Children’s Art Lessons at Creative Arts

Fun classes for kids keen to explore and expand their creative side

Kids have some of the most fun while being messy, and one of the best moments in a parent’s life is when their little one does something to make them proud. The Durbanville-based Creative Arts school marries these two prospects and gives children the space to enjoy themselves while producing something amazing from nothing.

The Northern Suburbs store teaches children from as young as six years of age about the art of making art and the joy of exploring and experimenting creatively. Though the shop has gone through several changes over the years (it was a niche ceramic store for a while), in 2011, owner Melinda Claassen decided to put the focus on the teaching side because, as she says, “Crazes come and go, but I wanted to do something that would last, something for the kids.”

And today, the passionate instructors at the studio find it incredibly rewarding to watch the positive change in, what they call, “their”children. “In the first week they’ll come in and fiddle with everything but their canvas,” says Melinda, “and then a few classes in they can sit down and paint for nearly two hours!”.

What’s more, the classes also reveal hidden talents and build self-esteem. For instance, one little boy was told by his school teacher that he couldn’t draw. Flash forward a couple of months and he had created a beautiful charcoal drawing of a wildebeest. “His father was so blown away that he hung the sketch in his office,” says Creative Arts instructor Mel Reynolds.

It’s this emphasis on building kids up and instilling them with important lessons that makes the school so special. Aside from having lots of fun, the young’uns learn significant life skills, like how to focus and share and how to practise patience.

As there’s a maximum of 12 children in a class, the teachers are able to dedicate personal attention to each little one. So, rather than lessons being a painting frenzy where children pump out a work per session, at Creative Arts, the warm instructors encourage the kids to slow down and work on pieces for at least two weeks. “I’ll tell the children, ‘no, you’re not done quite yet,’ and encourage them to add more colour here or another coating there to get them to focus on the work for longer,” says instructor Revalle Beaton.

The exact pieces that the children create depends on the age group that they’re in. Little ones aged 6 to 13 years work in various mediums: paper, clay, charcoal and acrylics. In addition, they are asked to bring along a picture of anything they like and are then taught to paint it on canvas; after a few weeks of artistic fun, then can enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Teenagers (from 13 to 17 years of age) have two different weekly classes to choose from: one for painting with acrylics and one focused solely on drawing. They are given the drawing lessons in charcoal, pencil and graphite and have the added responsibility of looking after their own sketch books.

What’s more, there are also one-on-one and group lessons for kids (five years of age and up) who have been diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome or learning disabilities like ADD. “These children tend to enjoy the structure and routine that the art classes offer them and they like having a channel to explore and express themselves more,” says Riaan Vosloo, the experienced art therapy teacher. There have been a number of success stories. For instance one autistic 18-year-old boy began his stint at Creative Arts as a very hesitant student but now he confidently comes to class and works on his drawings. Riaan remarks with compassion that, “Just being in this environment is therapeutic.”

The shop-cum-art school really goes the extra mile to give kiddies a memorable and positive creative experience and to instil pride in them about their pieces. Once a year, the venue holds an open exhibition and mounts little ones’ paintings and sketches in the library hall for everyone to see. The display works just like the adult version does: there’s an opening night and an auction that features real money. All in all, the expo encourages some healthy competition and is a fun way for children to complete their time at Creative Arts.

After years of being taught right and wrong in black and white at school, kiddies find it refreshing to be shown the full spectrum of colour and to be pushed to work in every shade. And the final highlight for both children and parents is that the little Picassos ultimately get to take home their work – moms and pops must just be sure to have enough wall space for all of the treasures their cherubs will make.

Tip: Parents are asked to pay for 10 lessons at a time either before or during the term. But if you just want to see what it’s all about, you can book a single class and sus out which one best suits your tyke.

The Bill: Children’s lessons are either R70p/p or R80p/p per class and 5% of the total fee is deducted if you pay for the term up front; paint and brushes are included in this cost. Teenagers’ lessons cost R85p/p per lesson, and this price excludes paint and brushes.

Opening Hours: Children’s lessons: Monday and Thursday: 3:30pm – 5pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 3pm – 4:30pm; Teenagers’ lessons: Wednesday and Thursday: 3pm – 5pm

Shop 2 | 44 Oxford Street | Durbanville| Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 975 5373

by Ondine Mond



Want to do something outdoorsy with the kids? Why don’t you go get up, close and personal with big cats at the Drakenstein Lion Park in Paarl.


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