Earlier this month, J and Little E were invited to a trial lesson at My Art Studio, a private art school that aims to enhance early childhood development and learning through creative expression and discovery.
My Art Studio was started by a group of Singaporean parents who were looking for a way to encourage their own children to be imaginative and innovative through the exploration of various artistic techniques and materials. The course teaches children toappreciate visual art (and maybe a little art history too!) and to be confident in their own ability to express themselves through craftwork, drawing and painting. The Learning Palette, which is My Art Studio’s inhouse programme, is aimed at children from 3-12 years of age, with different levels matched according to each child’s age and ability.
This means that the work produced by the children during class at My Art Studio is 100% their own effort, which is something that is very important to me.
I never expect my children’s artwork to look perfect – what matters to me is that the work is entirely their own. Some of my friends who have sent their kids to art classes have reported that the children return home with incredible, beautiful pieces of art, but when given the same tools and asked to create another picture, they are unable to do so. To me, this means that the child has not learned to create art independently and to be inventive – but only how to copy. This is why I appreciate art schools like My Art Studio that firmly believe that the process of creative discovery, interpretation and execution is more important than the outcome.
During the art lesson, the children present were divided into two levels – INTROductory (3-5 years) and FUNdamental (5-8 years). They were then given a short briefing on single-line portraits in the style of Pablo Picasso. Afterwards, each child was given paper to draft a few very quick sketches of themselves from memory and using only a single unbroken line. This gave the children the opportunity to reflect on their sketches and try to improve their own work with each subsequent drawing.
The art instructors, all qualified professionals in design and art, then floated around the room, either demonstrating the technique again on a separate piece of paper, or giving verbal instructions. I noticed that any hand-holding that occurred was only for the tots around Little E’s age – and this was mostly to correct their pencil grip!
After making a few rough sketches on paper, the final image was transferred onto canvas that had first been primed with gesso – clearly some very high quality materials are given to the children to work with – then, a black marker was used to outline the sketch.
The younger children in Little E’s group were given tempera paints to work with, which are water-based paints that are non-toxic. This is in keeping with the fundamentals of the INTROductory programme for preschoolers, which only uses safe and non-toxic materials. The bigger kids in the FUNdamental group (for 5-8 year olds) used acrylic paints instead, which have a bolder colour.
J and Little E were really absorbed in their work, quietly and conscientiously focused on their own paintings. The teachers were very good at guiding and encouraging each child in such a way that none of the children felt obliged to look over their shoulder at someone else’s work and compare it to their own. What a wonderful way to encourage individuality in self-expression!
My Art Studio encourages a multidisciplinary learning programme and during their lessons. Children will also explore concepts in math, science, music, nature, language and literacy, all cleverly hidden within a fun environment. At the end of the lesson, J seemed to have some idea of complementary and contrasting colours, which is definitely something that he did not consider before. I’ve also noticed that he has started drafting his ideas out onto scrap paper before deciding on a final image! Little E has also started identifying different shapes that can be added together to make a complete picture, which is a technique that she definitely picked up during the lesson.
There was also plenty of opportunity within the class for the children to interact with each other and the room was filled with friendly chatter. They were each encouraged to appraise each other’s paintings in a positive manner and spend a few minutes in a show-and-tell. Even the very shy children had warmed up by the end of the lesson, and were happily talking with the instructors about their works!
Here are my kids with their finished portraits! Not bad, huh? I’m impressed!
Oh, and here’s another thing about My Art Studio that impressed me – this private art school is registered with the MOE and not only offers art classes to preschools and primary schools (as part of the school’s art programme – not as an extracurricular enrichment class), but are also open to providing art therapy sessions and working together with organisations that hope to bring joy to children and young people from challenging backgrounds!
The studio also holds art parties, modular art classes for adults, teacher training workshops and corporate events both onsite at their studio in Serangoon Gardens as well as elsewhere. I am personally looking forward to attending a Grown-Up art-jamming session with them in the future!
My Art Studio (Serangoon Gardens): 45 Burghley Drive, #01-13, Burghley Lifestyle Hub, S(559022)