Bennett loves arts and crafts and really has since he was just a little guy. It’s funny how they are always the person that they will be, isn’t it? Even at two he would sit for 20-30 minutes at a time working on “crafts.”
We have tried out several art classes, from Gymboree speciality classes to the local rec center. We enjoyed them all. And then we found 4Cats Arts Studio…WOW! They bill themselves as “the best, most fun art studio ever,” which is spot on, and kind of cracks me up because that is exactly how I would describe them. We go to the Berkeley Hills studio, but they have several locations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. They are a franchise, and man, if there isn’t one by you and you are in to art – I’d be seriously looking into the opportunity.
Walking into the studio is basically like love at first sight. There is artwork EVERYWHERE! Canvas paintings – a fun mix of famous artists and local students – cover every inch of the walls. There are papier-mâché fish hanging from the ceiling. There is a kiln in the corner on one side of the room, and bookshelves stocked with supplies on the other. And then there is the splatter room – a Jackson Pollock tribute of sorts where all of the painting is done. There are bright colors splattered from the floor to the ceiling (and getting more covered every day!). Even the bathroom is a creative spot – it is completely wrapped in silver paper a la Andy Warhol.
What do we love about the classes? First, it’s the quality of materials. Bennett is in the mixed-media class and throughout the session they paint on canvas (see that pic up there? That is my 3 1/2-year-old painting on canvas!), make several polymer clay sculptures, create and glaze clay animals, and draw with charcoal and Cray-Pas. Tempera paint and paper plates have their place – we do tons of those type of crafts at home – but when Bennett is at 4Cats he is working with materials and tools that true artists use.
Second, we love the level of instruction from the teachers, especially Sarah Chester, the owner and lead teacher at the Berkeley Hills studio. Sarah strikes the right balance with my preschooler by letting him explore and express his creativity with her expert instruction. They create projects step-by-step using shapes and colors that the kids know, making the connection in their little brains. They roll out “snakes” in polymer clay for the cat’s tail and draw ovals for the owl’s body. The kids also learn respect for the studio, such as no running, sitting down at tables while drawing, respecting the materials by washing out brushes right after painting, and the ultimate rule: don’t scribble on anyone’s work!
Classes are offered by age group (including adult classes!), special artist-themed camps, school-holiday classes, and summer camps. You can also host birthday parties there, which we can’t wait to do for our boys. The schedule is very comprehensive, but this past session the schedule didn’t fit our only free morning, and instead of turning us away, Sarah generously created another class for us! Luckily we found a few friends to take it with us, too. The class is about 45 minutes, and the moms (and dads) indulge in a little LUXE time with a coffee, a book, a walk, or just catch up on facebook.
Check out their site, find them on facebook, and try out a class. I know your kiddo will love it.
var _gaq = _gaq || ; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-39250154-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);