When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be an artist. Specifically, I wanted to be able to draw cartoons and comics. However, I was also the kid in kindergarten who bribed another student to color my coloring book for me. You see, I couldn’t color within the lines. Those were the best cookies I ever spent. But … I still can’t color within the lines. Or draw ANYTHING.
Perhaps I would have been well served by a place like KidzArt Raleigh. It’s the North Raleigh location of a chain that specializes in teaching kids art with the aim of making it not just creative, but also relaxing.
Check out the website and you’ll see this: “The KidzArt classroom is a non-competitive environment enhanced by soft music that allows children to focus and enjoy what they are doing.”
And if you go a little deeper, you’ll find a page listing the life skills the program teaches. Things like “How to relax, go within, and reduce stress.” “How to see the world differently.” “How to welcome, work with and resolve ‘mistakes.’ ”
I’m sure that growing up, I would have been well served by all of that.
I talked with Tanya Baskerville, one of the co-owners of KidzArt Raleigh. She and her partner took over recently after six years running Rock It Learning, a science-based camp in Raleigh. Rock It Learning was their original creation, and they still run it, but they wanted to expand their reach by moving into the art realm.
She said at Rock It Learning they try to give kids the ability to do the activities they wish they could do in school.
“When I look at KidzArt, it’s very much the same,” she said. “The kids get to focus on what they enjoy.”
There are camps and after-school programs. Every day the children come in, sit down, and the instructors tell them what they will be working on that day. They show the children a version of what they will be drawing, and then the instructor starts the drawing with them. At some point, however, the children are free to let their creative whims take over. The child can continue to do the picture in the style of the original, or they can do something totally different – whatever they can imagine.
“Sometimes the kids say, ‘Oh my gosh. I need a pencil. I might make a mistake,’ ” Baskerville said. “And we say, there are no mistakes.”
Camps like Rock It Learning and KidzArt are important, Baskerville said, because they fill a niche that is sometimes left open in the Triangle.
“You can do anything you want in this town,” she said, referring to the number of sports options there are for kids. “Not every kid is geared toward sports, though.”
And she also thinks that sometimes the priorities of the marketplace don’t match up with the desires of children.
“There are so many interests that kids have,” she said. “And because of the society we live in, it’s hard to tap into them all the time.”
With camps like Rock It Learning and KidzArt, Baskerville hopes that all the children in Raleigh can have a place to pursue their interests.
“There are a lot of kids that like science,” she said. “There are a lot of kids out there that like art.”
And if your kid is one of them, you might want to check out one of Baskerville’s camps. If I had when I was a kid, maybe I’d be able to color within the lines by now.
Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.