Inside the Window

Installation Art is not the most recognizable visual art medium.  According to The Tate Museum, “The term installation art is used to describe large-scale, mixed-media constructions, often designed for a specific place or for a temporary period of time.”  There are many notorious installation artists and sometimes you unexpectedly find yourself near or even in an installation without realizing it. One of our favorite annual events, that is Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, is creating nature installations in the park in the Fall.  It’s so fun to see what you can create out of everyday materials in a space for others to enjoy.

 

Once we moved into our studio in Hillsboro Village, we had a new area for installation art: the window display.  This is something that has been a surprisingly fun, creative part of our job. Planning out the composition of the materials and exploring themes for our displays has been a way for us to stay creative and show some personality.

In an attempt to illustrate our excitement for the the new school year, our window currently displays wooden pencils, rulers and sketch books- a funky way to show some of our everyday tools in a new way.  Using fishing line, tying them together in a variety of ways, and figuring out how the placement of the knot affects the balance of each piece presented whole new types of challenges. It was also another example of seemingly mundane objects transformed  into interesting medium for art.

For kids, you can have fun in a play room by creating installations with at-home objects too.  Whether it’s pencils, books, paper or string, there are an infinite number of ways to create art for a specific space and there is a comfort in knowing it’s temporary.  You can play around and change it as often as you’d like and find new ways to consider the same space and found objects. One of our favorite items to use for quick, entertaining and creative installation art are post-it notes. They can be stuck and re-stuck in different nooks and on objects many times in many ways. We encourage you all to utilize your windows or a corner and create some installation art!

Trial Classes vs. Class Pack

Our parents always encouraged us to explore our interests.  Though they did require us to finish what we started each year, we were allowed to try something new if we wanted to.  From horseback riding to basketball, from cheerleading to mock trial, from dancing to even a beauty pageant, nothing was off limits.  It is with that adventurous and exploratory spirit that we wanted to give the opportunity to those looking to try out one of our classes before committing to the 6-wk class pack!

From August 20th  to September 7th, we will have our regular classes available at the Class Pack price but you can come to one or more of them!  Of course, you’re welcome to come to all 3 as well :) This way, you can see which class is the best fit for you and your family’s schedule.

Trial Classes will be the same as our Class Pack classes in structure.  Mini Makers is a great for siblings and our youngest artists (10mo-4yrs).  After free draw, we read a book, and create a multi-step project based off of the book’s visuals or concept.  At the end of class, students get to move to the mat for sensory play. In Petite Painters, 2-3yrs, students also read a book after free draw and complete a more complex project that takes most of the class.  The end of class is a sensory bin or playdough at the table. For both Mini Makers and Petite Painters, an adult accompanies the artists.

We have many after school options such as our Awesome Artists, ages 3-5yrs., where we typically read a book and create a project or two based off of an aspect of the book.  With Explorers and Creators, we lead students through projects that incorporate various mediums, art history, art elements and principles of design. The goal in these courses is to have a balance of education, success and art making exploration for our elementary and middle school aged students.  Our Portfolio Building Classes (Middle & High School as well as 3rd-5th Grade) are semi-private lessons, with max of 6 students and each student working on individualized projects to building personal portfolios. The teacher gets to know the students’ interests, abilities and goals so they can have more personalized success.

We are excited to be able to offer trial classes this year.  However, if you know your little artist wants to take weekly classes, go ahead and purchase the Class Pack to reserve your seat before it fills up.  You can also purchase all 3 of the trial classes to begin your weekly routine before the class packs begin!

Back to School Excitement

Remember the smell of new pencils and paper? We do! And it doesn’t matter how old we get - that back-to-school feeling doesn’t go away. In the movie You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan exhibits exactly how we feel with presented with a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. While everyone else celebrates the new year on January 1, we, as teachers, mark the new year each August.  There is just something about new supplies and the opportunity for new experiences that gives us a giddy feeling about starting a new school year.

There’s an optimistic feeling of wonder with what the new year will bring.  New year, new grade, possibly new school, new peers or students, new teachers, and so on - there is a lot of promise in all that new stuff!  It is just as exciting coming off of an amazing summer of camps and classes filled with amazing kids, some old and some new to the studio. As adults, we see now that it is just as exciting for teachers and grown ups too. We can’t wait to see who’s going to be in our classes this year and greet new and old students alike!

A new school year is a fresh start with a clean room, organized lesson plans, and high energy. It’s the kick off to all the new holidays, sports and fun things to come this year. Routines are back and we get to develop deeper relationships with our students.  Though everyone has moments throughout the year where the next break or day off can’t arrive soon enough, nothing beats the back-to-school feeling.

As we wrap up camps over the next three weeks, we will be behind the scenes purchasing new supplies and making plans for our Fall classes. It is never too early to decide which class works best for you and your family and we hope you find a day and time that works for you. August 20th through September 7th are our “trial class” weeks and that is a perfect time to give a class a try.  

For those who know which class they’d like to join, Class Packs are currently available and begin the week of September 10th though we encourage you to purchase the trial classes that fit in your schedule as well when you are ready to start your school year routine. We understand that our schools run on different schedules and we wanted to give everyone a chance to ease into theirs. We are jumping with joy thinking about our new and old students coming in to get started and we hope we get to see you too!

Structured for Creative Freedom

Artists are often portrayed as messy, eccentric, edgy, and sometimes a little crazy.  Like many stereotypes, it may only encompass a few artists. Art classes draw a variety of personalities and artistic approaches.  Some people are detail-oriented perfectionists while others tend to wing it a little more. One of our pedagogical beliefs at Little Art House is that having structure allows for more creative freedom for all processes of creating.  

As the teacher, we try to think of as many choices, obstacles, and creative ideas as possible so we can present a project to students in a way that they can feel successful as they’re creating.  One of the best parts of teaching this way is when students are given space to imagine, explore, and create in their own process, we also learn of new ways to see, consider, and create as well.

For example, one of our classes that highlights this approach is our Portfolio Building Class.  In these classes, students in 3rd-5th Grade, Middle School, and High School are guided through creating their own individualized works of art.  Each new student begins by completing a survey to provide us with information about his or her personal interests for mediums and subject matters as well as any struggles or areas they’d like to tackle.  As AP and IB art teachers, we thrive in this setting and love the challenge of helping young artists determine their vision and hone their craft.

The structure behind our teaching process allows for each student to work in the direction that best suits where they are as an artist and a person.  Each time a student begins a new project, we discuss what medium or subject matter they’d like to try next and why. We encourage students to try new things and venture out of their comfort zones, or offer an idea where they are likely to find fun and success again if that’s more important.  It all depends on the student and their unique experiences and goals.

While each student is different, community-oriented artmaking really surpasses any variation in where they are artistically and personally, and tends to drive everyone regardless of skill level. We value that interaction between different ages and personalities. As we begin this school year, we look forward to meeting our new students, greeting our returning students, and beginning the school year rooted in creativity!

Portfolio Building Classes are available by Class Packs only and are limited to 6 kids a class!  If you'd like to try a class before Session I begins the week of September 10th, be sure to sign up for one or all the trial classes (August 20-September 7th).  You can purchase the trial class and/or the class pack here for 3rd-5th Grade and here for 6th-12th Grade :)  These are a few of our most popular classes so be sure to reserve your spot while there's still space!

 

Related Arts

The term “Related Arts” is familiar to most people.  It usually encompasses subject matter like visual art, music, gym, perhaps theater, and occasionally a foreign language. These classes are typically lumped together in a school schedule as the special classes that are attended once or twice a week or, when you’re in high school, for a semester or two typically.  We know these classes have value yet they tend to receive the least amount of time in a school schedule.

There are countless articles and podcasts discussing the importance of the arts, exercise, and foreign language in schools.  While we may not have the influence to change how schools design their programs, we bare this in mind with our schedule and are determined to provide an interdisciplinary approach whenever we can. While Little Art House is an art studio first and foremost, we would be mistaken to think visual art is best created independently.

Much, if not all, of the most notorious artwork was created in conjunction with other arts, inspired by other places or utilize other areas of knowledge and education.  What kind of art would Kandinksy have created without listening to Schoenberg? What colors would Van Gogh’s The Night Cafe have had he not been inspired by the lyrical French language in the background while he painted in Arle, France?  How would Da Vinci’s portraits been different if he didn’t use a grid as a technique for drawing? The arts and core education subjects are intrinsically related and that should be celebrated and fostered.

Throughout this summer and fall, we’ve made a conscious effort to incorporate more interdisciplinary opportunities in our schedule.  We met a wonderful woman, Jessica, who is a writer and loves to spark the joy of writing in children. We planned our Creative Writing and Art Camp (July 30-August 3, 4th-8th Graders) for children who want to explore writing and artmaking together through imagining, exploring, and creating rather than strictly learning.  We want our children to play and see how an idea can grow into a story and a story into imagery.

For our younger learners, we are bringing in Kacey to introduce music as well as music related to art.  Her classes will begin with our fall quarter (late August) and will span ages 1 to 6 years old. Our kiddos can dance, drum, and sing. On Fridays, in the Artistic Musicians class, students can see how art and music go together.  

Just last week, we worked with Savvy from Vanderbilt University to teach kids how ratios and fractions are utilized in artmaking.  From using a grid for drawing to considering the Rule of Thirds when deciding on composition, there are so many ways math is utilized in art making.

The approach to connecting various subjects allows students who may struggle with some of the general education subjects to have a new way to understand the subject.  We love to see how we can relate art to all areas of imagining, exploring and creating. It is amazing how you can think outside of the box when making these type of connections!

 

Planning Ahead!

When we first started Little Art House, we thought we knew how to plan. After teaching for so many years, we would plan lessons and curriculums months in advance - even our whole school year plan - without stressing at all.  It was second nature and part of the joy of teaching as dreaming up the projects and how they can be well rounded and help our students be successful.  With that, we thought we could handle putting classes on a calendar and some special events but, boy, were we naive!

Over the last year and a half, we have been schooled in the business world’s version of planning ahead.  We were placing classes on the calendar about a month or two in advance, and then would wonder why the numbers were low.  We quickly realized that people, including us, like to know their options months in advance. This is why, after a year and a half of trying to plan/teach every day and run the behind-the-scenes planning, we decided to hire our brilliant summer teachers so we could finally get ahead of the game.  Between that dedicated time for planning and having learned some pros and cons of class structure along the way, we finally did it!  Our August-October classes for kids and adults are on the books!

 

We are thrilled with the classes we have lined up in the coming months.  For our younger artists, we have our Creative Play, Mini Makers, and Petite Painters back on the docket but with a few more sections.  We are bringing back the talented and wonderful Kacey Valezquez to teach music on Mondays (Mini Musicians and Petite Players) as well as a combination class of art and music on Fridays with our new Artistic Musicians.  We have no doubts that these classes will be a hit!  For our school age kiddos, we are bringing back our after school offerings for ages three to eighteen. We have added more sections of Middle and High School Portfolio Building due to high demand (snag a spot while you can!) and have kept our popular classes for 3-6 years, 2nd-4th graders, middle schoolers, and 3rd-5th grade portfolio. We are hoping to include some home school options as well so be sure to reach out if that interests you!

For adults, we are super proud of the artists we have on the team and the wonderful work that they do.  Our classes span multiple mediums and skill levels so we truly believe there is something for everyone.  We welcome those who are looking to create within a community and those interested in staying curious through lifelong learning as well as those looking for both!  

While we are having a blast this summer with our camps, we are very excited about about our upcoming Fall schedule. We hope you find something that excites you as well and that we see you in the studio soon!

 

Introducing OUR DAD!

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       We spend plenty of time talking about our sister bond and our mom since we are all teachers and artists. But, in the spirit of Father’s Day, we cannot forget the leading man in our pack - our dad (or as we call him Diddy).  He may not be an “artist” in the literal sense, but he is certainly creative and he has been a primary teacher in our lives. While he’s a lawyer by day, he is also our teacher, trusted advisor, contract reader, and so much more.

      We were lucky to have such an exceptional dad who prioritized us in every way. He still does and would do anything for us, but we have such strong memories of him that we now see were total and complete gifts that not everyone has. For example, throughout our entire childhood, Dad came home for dinner by 5:30 every single night of the week like clockwork. He made sure to head in early on busy days to be home by dinnertime and though his job required occasional travel, we don’t remember him being gone for more than a night or two at a time. We can still hear his specific footsteps bounding up the stairs two at a time to come tuck us in. On Saturdays, dad would scoop us up in our PJs and take us to get donuts (such a thrill!) and to visit our cousins.  We absolutely loved it, and we’re sure mom enjoyed the break! When we went on our big family vacations, cousins and all, our dad was always the one playing with us in the waves, on boogie boards, playing other games. Even when we tired of an swimming, he’d stay until the last of us was done and would body surf back to the beach on a wave with a huge smile. As adults, he is still the most likely to get a game or activity started when we’re on vacation or home for the holidays.

      While he is fun, which is a great personality trait, his other qualities are where we truly lucked out.  Perhaps the two words that stand out to describe dad are dependable and faithful. We knew with every paper we wrote, test we took, or idea we’ve described that he would listen, think on it (or read it), and provide clear, dependable feedback.  Not everything we’ve done or idea we’ve had has been amazing but he seems to always find a way to give feedback that is positive and encouraging. When we started brainstorming the idea of Little Art House, he first listened, than confirmed and encouraged our idea, and then set about writing a to-do list of things to consider which we definitely needed.  As we looked for our first location and than our second, he answered almost daily calls and went with us on site visits as a third pair of eyes and ears. When we received the lease for our current location, he thought it was excessively intense but heard us exclaim that it was important, so, lo and behold, a couple of months later the kinks were worked out and we have him to thank for it.  This is that dependable trait - we can depend on him to tell us the truth and stick by us no matter what. His faith is threefold, and shown by his intense commitment to his community of Columbia, Tennessee, his service to the Presbyterian Church, and, most of all, his faith in his family. We never once felt that we couldn’t do something or go somewhere or be someone because of him. He has always had faith in our choices and our goals.

    We could go on and on but for now, we want to end on this note. It is such a gift to get a little wiser as you get older. We are in this lucky position where we are old enough to realize how amazing our parents are and still have time to tell them and spend time with them. For us, we plan on making sure our dad knows how much we love him this Father’s Day and everyday, especially when we head back to the beach for the Fourth of July where we anticipate playing games, riding waves, and maybe still making a dribble castle or two :). Happy Father’s Day, Diddy, we LOVE you!

 

Our Favorite Sensory Toys for Independent Play

When we both obtained our Master in Arts of Teaching at Belmont University, we took quite a fascinating course on child development.  We learned the various developmental stages of children, including the typical abilities and limitations per age. It became apparent that we should structure our classrooms in a way that challenge our students but don’t exceed their current physical and mental abilities.  For example, we know inherently that giving a 15 month-old a marker to draw with may seem ridiculous but oftentimes in education we find ourselves asking students to perform a task before they are even capable of completing that task.

It is important to stay in-the-know and listen to your gut when asking your child or student to complete a task. We can make assumptions as parents and teachers about our children’s development but luckily there is a ton of research and literature out there that can help us determine what activities and new experiences or challenges we can produce for them.  Every day, interesting new discoveries and connections are made in this field.

As we dove into younger ages with our classes, specifically age 5 and under, we realized that while our education taught us a lot, we had to do some brushing up on our child development knowledge.  After reading and researching many different resources, we have become adept at creating lessons that are developmentally appropriate and fun for our littlest learners. One of our favorite things to do is create opportunities for them to engage all of their senses- sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste (though taste should often be avoided in art, but sometimes they can’t help themselves!).  

Below are some of our kiddos favorite toys and as a bonus - you can make these too so easily with items you may have already at home or can grab at a dollar store!  We are sure to incorporate some key words and questions when we play with these items and our kids. We hope this helps you little independent kiddos play throughout the day while also developing motor skills and curiosity mostly mess free! :)

SENSORY BALLOONS

  • Balloons (be sure not to get the water balloons or they will break too easily!)
  • Rice, Beans, Flour (pretty much any dry item that you can fit down a funnel)
  • Funnel
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This is such a fun and mess-free way to let you kiddos play with various textures!  Simply put the funnel in the balloon and slowly fill it up with various dry pieces. Once you’ve filled it as much as you can, let any extra air out and tie it up!   When introducing these, you can point out the textures (i.e. soft, hard, bumpy, smooth, etc) as well as having them guess what is inside :)

SENSORY BOTTLES

  • Food Coloring
  • Sparkles, glitter, pom-poms, beads, jewels, etc.
  • Washi tape
  • Hot glue
  • Water
  • Oil (optional)
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The options for sensory bottles are endless!  You can create a theme with color or imagery in the bottle or just random.  We like to have at least one thing for each color of the rainbow :) Once you’ve added the dry items of your choice, add water and food coloring (bear in mind the coloring can affect certain dry items such as a white pom-pom :).  Once the lid is put back on tightly, add hot glue to the opening and while it’s still warm, add your tape to secure the lid shut. You can use washi tape to match or just regular masking or duct tape too. Shake them, roll them, stack them and see what you can find in the bottles!

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PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS

  • Rice, Beans, Lentils, etc. (pretty much any dry item that varies in shape/size)
  • Duct tape
  • Clean cans, bottles, old plastic eggs or other shape container
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Possibly the simplest option and super fun, make your own percussion instruments!  Just add your dry item to you container of choice and secure it with duct tape. If you use an egg with two spoons, you can even make your own maraca :)  You can shake them, tap them together, tap them on the ground, and more to get a variety of sounds!

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POM POM DUNKING

  • Scissors
  • Duct or Masking Tape
  • Bottle (any shape really but the 12oz drinks work really well)
  • Pom poms
  • Container for pom poms

This is so great to help kids with motor skills and problem solving for how to get the pom-poms in and out of the bottle :)  Simply remove the label the lid (We add tape to cue that it is an opening). Cut a 2-3 inch hole in the front of the bottle and add tape to the sharp edge to prevent injury and to show the opening.  Fill another container with pom poms and let them get to dunking! You may need to guide them through putting the pom pom in and getting them out a time or two. After that, they will surely play with this for a good long time independently :)

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Our Wonder Woman

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We’ve shared before that our mom was our art teacher growing up. And not just figuratively - she was our actual teacher with Introduction to Art for nine weeks in high school and she was Leighton’s homeroom teacher for all four years. Many kids probably would’ve requested a schedule change, but not us. By the time we reached high school we knew that she loved us, respected us, and valued us enough to allow us freedom to grow, but also to be there when we needed her, like on Fridays when we really just had to have that king-sized candy bar to get through the day.  For this Mother’s Day, we’d like to go a bit down memory lane and share some reasons why we love her so.

When we were little, maybe four and five years old, a few friends asked our mom to start teaching little art classes in a church rec room around the corner from our house. There weren’t any other art teachers in Columbia and it wasn’t common practice at that point to have art in schools. We LOVED these classes because we knew the teacher (usually a perk), we were with all our friends, and well, it was art. Need we say more?  This original “Little Art House” that never had a name, business plan, or official space stayed with us as we grew up. Whether mom knew it or not, she showed us it is possible to go it alone and create something.

Throughout the years, she remained our teacher both officially and unofficially.  At home, she was a genius at creating study tricks that helped us with every subject matter including English (she has dyslexia, y’all, how did she do it?).  We never realized how hard and exhausting that must have been to help us for hours after teaching all day. She somehow had energy to constantly encourage us to pursue our dreams no matter how crazy those dreams might be.  When Leighton tried out for cheerleading in sixth grade, completely out of nowhere, and got the phone call that she made the squad our mom’s face went from a fleeting expression of disbelief to her exclaiming “I knew you could do it!”. She was at every game from then on out.  When Emma decided she was going to participate in her first pageant during her senior year (Miss Mule Day) after most girls spend their teen years participating, or when she decided to make her own dress for prom, mom just said “Of course! What do you need?”. Let’s not forget our brother who also benefited from her optimism when she encouraged him to run for office his freshman year of high school.  He was a bit shy, and seven years later he became Student Body President at Vanderbilt University.

We could go on and on with memories like this of the amazing support and faith she provided us with over the years and the example she has set for us as business owners, sisters, and teachers. To this day, we still call her to ask “how would you do this project?” or “what do you think about this idea?”. We may or may not call her multiple times a day but we assume she doesn’t mind :). To all of the mothers out there, THANK YOU. You may not hear that much when your kids are little but, if our experience is any testament, they’ll look back in wonder at how you did it all with a swelling sense of gratitude. To our momma, the beautiful Carrie Lancaster, WE LOVE YOU. Thank you for being our biggest cheerleader, study buddy, and teacher!  We’ll call you in a few!

 

Creating Space in You Life to be Creative

It’s funny how structure can provide space to be creative.  It seems almost counterintuitive but it’s the best way to be as creative as possible.  If you have a plan for certain areas of your life or schedule, you have more mental space for being creative.

Mark Zuckerberg was onto something with wearing a hoodie every day almost as a uniform.  We tend to eat the same thing for lunch all week so that’s one less thing to think about.  In our classes, we have a general structure for class so we can think of more amazing projects and processes for our students.  

With all the moving parts of an adult’s schedule - taking care of the kids, fixing dinner, exercising, working, and the list goes on - it’s important to save some space for whatever creative process feeds your well being.  For some it may be gardening, music, or baking, but for us it’s visual art! We try to offer a variety of art making processes for both kids and adults so there is something for all levels.

Our lineups for May and June are already amazing, and we’ve added some fun options to really celebrate the summer season,  like Family Friday Tie Dye! Our newest teachers, Elisabeth Braswell and Rachel Pritchett, are offering even more variety for watercolor painting.  The regular teachers are back as well, including Modern Calligraphy class with Molly, Acrylic Skyline Painting class with Douglas, and more!  We (Emma and Leighton) are also getting back into the teaching mode with adults with Linoleum Block and Encasutic Painting classes!  If there’s ever a time to carve out art making time in your schedule, this is it! We’d love to create with you this summer!