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Unicoi Art Studio: Creating Art One Person At A Time

Sometimes, paint brushes can open up an entirely new world to a person. It’s especially awesome when that person is still a child. When they can feel free to express themselves in a way that is satisfying to them and not worry about what others may think. These types of options are given to young people ages 3-15 at the Unicoi Art Studio located in Roscoe Village in the great city of Chicago.

Unicoi is a pretty unassuming building if you’re looking for it. Right on the corner of Belmont and Hoyne Avenues, it’s a large one room studio set up with several tables covered with plastic and paper to doodle on (what art student doesn’t love THAT?!) Don’t think for a moment though that the atmosphere is anything that would make one think that this is just going to be random finger painting – and as a homeschooler, finger painting is what I’m absolutely comfortable with teaching.

Upon walking in, I was greeted with all types of colors, and smells (do you remember the smell of paint in art class? Yes, THAT smell, and it was wonderful!) There are pieces of art, done by the owner Nora Stewart and various students she has had.

The cellist had the pleasure of being the first child of mine to take a class at this establishment. The slot that we chose was the Young Artist Workshop that takes place on Saturdays for a two hour block. This class has a description of allowing your child to work independently on pieces while getting instruction on composition, proportions, color theory and concept. Sounds so adult doesn’t it? Yet, the cellist fell right into stride.

When we arrived, the other students were already choosing which pieces of art they would continue working with, or choosing another piece to start. They were also all girls. That didn’t stop my son. He quickly got to work with the teachers for that Saturday – Shannon and Kathleen and began the great Simba painting.

It’s amazing to me that all art starts with one line, or point, or squiggle.  One’s interpretation can be totally different from what others are seeing in their mind, yet be so right. From drawing to painting the piece, a total of two hours was spent sans mom, dad, the ladybug and the twizzlers. This was a time for the cellist to be alone and focus on something that he absolutely could. Music was playing, and the chatter was at a minimum because the students were totally involved in their pieces. However, talking is not frowned upon. The space is welcoming, not restricting. Art isn’t meant to be done a certain way, and Nora, the owner expressed that to me when I got a chance to sit down with her and talk a little about her studio.

She comes from a family of artists. Having a dad who did metalwork and a mom who focused on photography while growing up really influenced Nora growing up. She also danced while attending school to major in the arts. Now, she’s in charge of keeping it in the family as her mom and sister are also art teachers at the studio. Nora started the studio after parents from the school that she was teaching at, at the time, encouraged her to branch out. Before she knew it, she had a steady flow of students coming for a lesson each week.

I think that when I arrived back to pick the cellist up from his first studio experience, I wasn’t really ready for a finished piece. However, I was pleasantly surprised at what he was able to accomplish in that time alone.

I’m not sure what impressed me more. The fact that he was able to do something as wonderful as this in two hours, or the fact that he was able to grasp the concepts that they taught him quickly enough to do this in two hours. Yes, those sentences are almost identical, but I promise it’s two different thoughts.

This is not a dig on the art class that he takes at school. In fact, I’m grateful that he even HAS art given that our school system is having the arts cut drastically. This is art on a different level. He’s not competing with the rest of his class, or working to earn a grade. There’s something relaxing about being able to create art just because you can.

I know that he appreciates this time, as I appreciate him being able to have at least two hours where no one that he sees on a regular basis is around to comment on anything. This is his “him” time and Unicoi is the perfect place for him to spend it.

Right now, the Unicoi Art Studio has a couple of promotions going on that I think many of you will really benefit from.

I’m also excited to say that they are offering adult classes as well! And if coming once a week isn’t in your schedule, they do offer “night’s out” such as Girls Night Out, where you can order pizza from a local place, and relax with a couple of girlfriends and learn a couple of art techniques. Don’t be surprised if you see me post about one of those in the coming months.

Stay tuned later this week to catch a recap of how the ladybug (and I) did with her first foray into a drop off class. I’d like to say that I held up well, but I won’t. 🙂 SHE however, had a great time, even being comfortable enough to let her teacher know that she was HUNGARY. Yes, when she’s really hungry, there’s an extra syllable and letter in there.

This is the cellists’ post though, and with that, I bid you adieu.

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