Aside from cooking class, Gavin has been really excited about the idea of taking art classes. After hearing about The Studio @ KL through a friend and seeing the kind of paintings her daughter has been painting, I was pretty keen for Gavin to give it a go. Gavin, too, has been pestering me to set up his trial class.
When I first called, Jennifer, the owner, told me they didn’t do trial classes but she suggested I bring Gavin around to take a look and see if he would be interested to try painting. I thought it would be a great idea because I figured that once he was surrounded by paintings, he would be inspired to paint. Unfortunately, being around professional art work had the opposite effect on Gavin.
When we arrived, there was a class in progress. The children painting were not that much older than Gavin. They were painting scenes with animals on canvas (yup, they use real canvas – not art blocks!) under the guidance of Jennifer and her assistant Faizal (not sure if that is how you spell his name). I asked Gavin if he wanted to take classes and he said, “No.” I was stunned to silence. Gavin who had been pestering me all week to bring him here was suddenly cool and loof. I took him aside to talk to him and asked what caused his sudden change of heart about painting and he replied, “I can’t paint like that.” He felt intimidated by all the professional paintings and even the work that was being done by the other children.
It is a problem I have begun to notice in Gavin which has been bugging me a lot lately. Whenever he faces anything difficult, he balks rather than rises to the challenge. He will insist it is too hard and he won’t even want to try. And yes, I have been thinking a lot about the kind of praise he has been hearing and clearly whatever I have been doing is either not enough to overcome the damage or there is something else in the mix. And then I think about what Sir Ken Robinson said about schools killing our children’s drive to learn and I worry about Gavin who is only 4 years old and already beginning to show a disinterest in learning.
What is the problem? Has Gavin had it too easy? Is he so used to being good at doing things that the moment he feels he isn’t “the best” at an activity, he isn’t interested to do it? Because he clearly enjoys painting. It was only after he saw how those children were painting that he felt his paintings were inadequate and he no longer wanted to paint.
After some encouragement, Jennifer managed to coax Gavin to paint a picture at The Studio. He finally agreed to paint a rainbow and this was the end result:
I know I said I would let Gavin choose which class he ultimately wanted to sign up for, but after recent events, I am beginning to think that art classes would be the most beneficial for his development. Why? There is no right or wrong in art, just a different perspective. If schools are killing our children’s creativity, then surely art will help to restore it. Part of being creative is to think of things not as they are but as they could be – how else did Edison invent the light bulb if he couldn’t envisage something that could be? In art, you can have pink skies and blue grass and it wouldn’t be “wrong”. Art classes help to break down the rigidity in our thinking that there can only be black and white. Because who is to say that what we know to be “fact” truly is “fact”? Science uncovers new findings all the time that challenge the very fiber of our beliefs. If we get locked into thinking that the way things are is the only way it can be then who will ever make these discoveries?
So Gavin has agreed to come back and paint again. In his next class, he will get to use a canvas and he will be painting dinosaurs. Let’s see how that goes. At the very least, we’ll have some nice artwork to put up in our new pad…
In the mean time, if you are interested in learning how to paint at The Studio, here are the details:
Solaris Dutamas is notoriously difficult to navigate so if you plan to visit The Studio, park in the orange section of the underground parking. Look for Lift D3. Go to Level G3. Once outside, turn right and walk a couple of shops down and you will find it next to Duduk Cafe.
- art classes for all age groups, from 4 years old onwards
- Art Jamming – it is a 4 hour gathering where you can paint and mingle with other artists at the same time (something I would love to do if someone would watch the kids for me…)
- Corporate Team Building
- Art Exhibitions For Artists
- Painting Parties For Kids – which you can use as your child’s next birthday party theme…
Art class fees for children (at the time of writing this post):
- Registration – RM50 (lifetime)
- Monthly – RM300 (4 classes)
What I liked about The Studio:
- The children are taught to be responsible for their own paintings and the tools – they get out the paints on their own, they get their own washing water, they pack up after themselves, and they learn how to handle the art equipment with respect so they don’t wreck the brushes or make a mess.
- The abstract artwork and other professional paintings that show you don’t necessarily have to paint everything the way we see it in the world.
- That they use canvas to paint on.
The original idea for letting Gavin trial a variety of classes was so that he could:
- broaden his experiences
- add some variety in his daily routine (while he was on extended school holidays)
- discover his passion
The intention is to let him sign up for the one class that he enjoyed most out of all the trial classes he attended. Secondly, even if he decides he doesn’t like these activities now, he may come to enjoy them later in life when he encounters them again. Thirdly, it might also help him open up to the idea of trying new things.
If you would like to follow us on this journey, this is the list of extra-curricular activities that have been planned so far (click the links to read about the activities we have tried so far; more links will be added as we get through the list):
- Gymnastics (alternative Gym class with Adventure Maze)
- Rock Climbing
- Metalwork – Royal Selangor Pewter School of Hard Knocks
- CT Workshop
- Speech and Drama
If you know of any other activities that might be fun for a child to experience, please leave a comment – thank you!
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