Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Drawing Room

A few months ago, a pretty young girl came into my store and asked if we could hang a flyer up about The Drawing Room. I said we would and I didn't really think about it beyond that. I wasn't looking to sign E up for anything else. We are already committed to Taekwondo, tap/ballet, and improv class in NYC. And I work. I don't really have time for anything else. In the back of my mind though, I'm always wondering what other "outside-the-box" activity he might be missing out on. But, I have to be discerning because all these classes cost money and truthfully, I've sent him to some that I didn't think were worth the time, money, and/or running around.

Our partner at work noticed the flyer and said it looked like a cool place. I looked it up but I couldn't really find any information on classes so I sent an email. Christine Zaccardi, the owner got back to me. She told me to bring E in to try a class. I made a date for January 31.

E's print making


I didn't know what to expect. Honestly, I was kind of worried it was just going to be like the kind of stuff he brings home from school. Not that what he brings home currently isn't "good" but it's not "serious art". It's more "arts & crafts", which is what he SHOULD be doing in preschool, but I don't need to pay for basically just more paper to come into the house. However, he had been expressing more of a serious interest in art, spending hours drawing freehand, tracing, and building out of materials like wood and paint. So I thought this could be interesting. I asked what they do there for his age group and Christine explained that they work on different things every week. That was very intriguing to me. It sounded like he wouldn't get bored because he'd be learning something really new every week. For the class E would be auditing, they'd be doing "print making". I didn't even know what that was, but it sounded cool.

I brought him to their studio which is in Midland Park. It's really amazing. When I got there, there was one little girl that would be taking class with E, but there was also an older class, being taught by Patti Spinnler, of four tweens- one girl and THREE boys. All twelve years old. I found that to be really interesting because when you think of art class, just like with dance, you kind of expect the girls to outnumber the boys. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many boys. And they were REALLY into what they were doing, as was their teacher. What I also want to add was that these boys weren't stereotypical anything. Not nerdy, not goth, just typical, seemingly normal kids. I add this because someone actually ASKED me- "Were they nerdy?" I didn't even know what exactly connotates "nerdy" these days. But I used my own definition of what I would think nerdy could be and it wasn't any of the kids I saw there creating their art.

Patti Spinnler showing off some recent projects
 
Christine took time to talk to me while Ethan took class with Jaclyn Woudenberg, the same pretty girl who came to my store to bring the flyer. Christine gave me a quick history and explained that the major part of what they do is help kids do their portfolios to get into schools. Middle schoolers trying to get into a school like Bergen Academies and high school students applying to art colleges. Kat Rutler was working with two high schoolers while Christine was showing me around. She was helping them figure out what to put into their portfolios and critiquing their work. It was an amazing process to watch. One of the students was a senior boy who decided on the later side that he wants to go to art school and needed a portfolio ready, quick. The other was a really pretty blond ex-gymnast, senior, turned photographer and fine artist.
 
After I was shown around and given a lot of information to digest, Christine went to work with her students. She is focused and serious about getting them and stuff ready for whatever they need. I just sat quietly and watched her photograph the girl student's work with her for her portfolio.


Christine working with her student on his portfolio
The class E was in was either 90 minutes or 120 minutes depending on the students. I was told there are normally more students in that time slot, in his age group (5-6 yrs old) but the schedules are pretty flexible since Christine and the other teachers are there pretty much all the time. The girl that was with E that day was there for 90 minutes so that's how long he was in class for. He loved it. LOVED. He is pretty amenable to any activity. I tell him we're going here or there and he usually doesn't have an issue, but some things are more appealing of course. I didn't know what to expect from him. I know he likes drawing and creating but he's never taken a serious art class and/or for that length of time in one sitting. When he was finished, he immediately came out and said, "Mom! I LOVE this place! We can come back
here, right??!"

Jaclyn teaching the little ones how to do print making

Basically, classes seem to work like this: There is a slot of time open- 2 hours. Depending on who is signed up, they break it up by age. Jaclyn took the little ones and Patti took the bigger kids. I'm explaining this because on the class schedule brochure, classes are broken up into three categories:

Mommy & Me- ages 2-4
Budding Artists- ages 4-6
Art Experience- ages 5-11

I was confused because the Budding Artists age and Art Experience age groups overlap at the younger end of the scale. I asked how it works having five year olds and eleven year olds in the same class. Then I saw firsthand that it's not actually all of them together, which makes sense. The difference between the Budding Artists and the Art Experience, from what I can see, is the amount of time. Budding Artists is one and a half hours and Art Experience is two hours. I can see some 4-6 year olds having hitting a threshold at an hour and a half, but it's nice that the ones five and up who can handle it, have the two hours.

I was mostly interested in the classes for E's age. Because that's what I'm personally dealing with. But I didn't even know there was a service available for what they do with the middle and high school kids. They also do scout programs and birthday parties. I think the birthday parties would be an awesome thing to do in the seven years old and older age groups when it's less kids and they can make something really awesome to take home with them. They also do afterschool programs which they work with the school to get involved with.





Kat showing me a portfolio





I love that it's six women working together to help kids learn about and create art in a very supportive environment. Especially at a time when schools are losing funding for the arts left and right. When I was at The Drawing Room, one of the women who teach was out doing a school program.

There are so many extracurricular activities to pick from for our kids but this is one you can definitely feel good about. I told E that we can sign him up in September, when he goes to kindergarten. We're just overcommitted right now on all fronts. But, after having him take the class, I think it's 100% worth it! It's awesome to see kids really enjoying & excelling in something so worthwhile. E was so proud of his work.

I know I put a lot of photos in this entry but there was just so much to see and take in. This wasn't even the half of it!



There is so much more I could tell but I don't want to make this a novel. In addition to classes, they also have quite a list of services including- portraits, custom artwork (like for businesses), murals, graphic design & printing, wedding illustration and face painting! You can check out their newly launched, revamped website for much, much, more information. http://www.drawingroomllc.com/

About us page: http://www.drawingroomllc.com/about-us/
Classes page: http://www.drawingroomllc.com/classes/
Programs page: http://www.drawingroomllc.com/programs/

The Drawing Room, LLC
27 Central Ave 2nd Floor
Midland Park, NJ 07432
201-447-7272


Student's artwork outside the classrooms of The Drawing Room classrooms


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