art classes | Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

art classes

Every kid should take an art class. It teaches them flexible thinking and to be a careful observer of the world. I can’t think of a profession where those two skills don’t come into play.

Teaching Artist Holly Rosario knows how to connect with young artists. “My philosophy is to create as much of an authentic studio environment as possible. When you offer the studio environment, studio materials and the opportunity to explore, you discover that without a lot of strict guidance kids do the most amazing thing. Kids are natural artists. They don’t need to be coached as far as artistic thinking; it’s just teaching the skill,” says Rosario who teaches parent and child classes up to age 13.

Rosario’s own life as an artist began at an early age. “I’ve been drawing since elementary school and it was always in the corner of papers or tests or wherever I could fit it. I thought of it as a nervous habit for a while. Then, in high school I discovered it was what I loved to do and wanted to do,” she says. As Rosario’s interest in drawing transitioned to painting to papercuts to anything she could get her hands on, she learned art was an immense stress reliever and something she could spend hours on top of hours doing. “I realized if that’s what I wanted to do all the time, I should pursue it professionally,” she says.

After getting her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Maryland Institute College for the Arts (MICA), she went into the Masters in Teaching program. “What I loved about the MICA program was its focus on holistic education and art as a bridge to children understanding themselves,” Rosario says, “In an educational system where everything is so to the numbers and whether kids are proficient or not, art is the one place we have left where kids can express themselves and have it not be right or wrong but about growth and understanding themselves.”

Rosario started her teaching career in public schools in 2012 and has been teaching at Maryland Hall since 2016. During her first year of teaching in public schools, she made her mark in a school that had not previously had stability in its art program. From a classroom in a trailer with no running water, Rosario led her students to present a schoolwide art show at the end of the year. “It was one of the biggest events ever at the school and we got to display a piece of art from every single student. Everyone in the school attended.”

For Rosario, art is a way to connect with others. “Art becomes a bridge to talking with people you never would have spent time with before,” she says. Working with children especially is what drives her. “We don’t make enough room for emotional education and teaching children to be kind to each other and themselves. Having to critique art teaches kids to grow and be critical without thinking anything is their fault or a struggle to succeed; it’s not putting yourself down to see where you can go. The beautiful thing about teaching art is seeing that self-reflection and growth.”  

Rosario’s classes focus on teaching skills, connecting with students and personalizing her teaching. “With the age level that I work with, the hardest part is getting them to understand there is a beginning, middle and an end to making artwork. And the most important part is the struggle that starts in the beginning. Getting the child to hold on, not crumple up their paper and see mistakes as part of the process – the struggle is the learning process. In the end, they’re so happy they didn’t give up! That’s when I’ve succeeded as a teacher,” she says.

Rosario gets animated when talking about the classes she teaches at Maryland Hall. “We get into really interesting classes like handmade animation. It’s really fun to see the process of animation and then see what the kids create on their own.” She’s especially excited for a painting class she’ll offer this summer called “Beyond the Brush.” The class is about being as experimental as possible with what goes onto the canvas and seeing where the skills go when students lose tight control. “I find it so fulfilling to see what their awesome little minds come up with,” Rosario says.

Check out Holly Rosario's Summer 2019 Classes for Children Under 6 here and Children 6-12 here.

 

“My favorite thing about teaching is the feeling I get when someone lights up and says, ‘Oh, I get it.’ To share that with someone else and see them feel joy over creating something beautiful; that’s why I do it. The joy and understanding of how you got there is what it’s about.”  

For the 30 years Andrea Olney-Wall has taught art classes at Maryland Hall, she’s ended every class the same way: with an art show. “It’s really important to reward kids for their work,” she says and so on the last day of class she hosts a reception with food and a display of the students’ self-selected best work. Olney-Wall’s own passion for art took off in the 5th grade making doll clothes, weaving belts and creating all kinds of things by hand. “I would see something in a museum like an African belt and go home and try to re-create it,” Olney-Wall says. When asked what inspired her arts career, she reflects for a moment and says, “My grandfather was an artist and even though I didn’t get to meet him, I inherited several of his paintings. I think that’s where it came from.”

Olney-Wall continued her path as an artist through high school and college where her fiber sculptures, weavings and paintings were featured in many shows. Alongside her visual art, Olney-Wall was also a dancer. When she reached a point in college where she had to choose between art or dance, she chose art. “I have a Bachelor’s in Fine Art, not in Art Education because I never believed in telling a child their work wasn’t good enough for an A. I found the grading process counterproductive to how you should feel when you create art,” she says. After graduating from the University of Iowa, Olney-Wall and a friend opened a Fiber Arts supply store and Gallery in Iowa City, IA. Six years later, she met her husband and moved to the Annapolis area and began teaching at Maryland Hall in 1986.

Her first classes at Maryland Hall included tapestry weaving, graphic novellas for kids, clothing design for children and acrylic painting. For nine years, Olney-Wall was also an Artist In Resident with a weaving studio and painting studio that she kept with open doors as much as possible while raising two young daughters. “I’ve never had a day where I didn’t want to go to work,” she says. When asked what students can expect in her classes, Olney-Wall says, “Students will find something, a feeling, they can’t get doing any other kind of thing – except maybe from a dance class – and they will improve immediately, learning more than they can use. It’s all up to them; I’m just showing the way.”

In Olney-Wall’s Open Studio classes, students come in with work they’ve started or ideas for new things. She guides them with questions like what are you doing, are you having trouble and what about trying this? The supportive and open environment helps students take a step back and focus on making their work better. For students who don’t know where to start, she employs a trick, “I have them paint with their opposite hand so they lose control and get a little looser.” This semester she’ll introduce new pastel and fiber arts open studios.

Olney-Wall’s past students have gone on to become Elementary Art teachers, parents who bring their students back for classes and, in the case of Christian Siriano, an internationally known fashion designer. “If you love what you do, you’ll succeed and if you love what you’re working on, you’ll be happy,” Olney-Wall says. When she isn’t teaching at Maryland Hall, Olney-Wall can be found creating in her home studio and working on a set of educational books for drawing, painting and pastel. But you’ll have to take a class with her while you can…she and her husband have a dream to move to Greece or Italy where they’ll host week-long workshops for travelers.

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