For the past year, my daughters – ages 10 and seven – have been taking drawing classes with the Young Rembrandts here in Ottawa, and they truly love every moment of it. Like most kids, Elissa and Lily have been involved in a dizzying plethora of activities over the years…we’ve tried dancing, skating, gymnastics, baseball, soccer, drama classes, piano and swimming – to name a few (I’m sure I’m missing others!). As a parent, I think it’s important to expose my children to a range of activities – though I am very careful not to hyper-schedule them with too many concurrent activities – they also need time just to be kids! Every class or course my kids try brings different results; some have been more successful than others. But I can honestly say that the Young Rembrandts ranks among their top favourite extra-curricular activities to date.
As a parent, there’s nothing more frustrating than signing your child up for a new activity – and shelling out your hard-earned money for registration – only to find their interest waning by the third session. It pains me to hear the woeful, “Do we have to go today, Mom?” Hearing your kids ask, “How many more sessions till it’s over?” is another tell-tale sign they are not fully engaged in the activity in question.
Happily, that just never happens with their drawing classes. Although my girls have been attending several back-to-back sessions of the Young Rembrandts – both the ‘Elementary Drawing’ sessions as well as the ‘Cartooning’ sessions – they are always hungry for more. I think that’s because of a few things. First, the instructors always keep it fresh – they are never repeating the same, tired lesson from the previous session – rather, they are always introducing a new concept or artistic style to keep the kids engaged. Secondly, they are never harsh or critical – they offer their guidance, but give the kids creative license to make their art their own – without any pressure to make it “perfect.”
Most of all, I’ve come to see that drawing – that fundamental skill of the visual arts – is something that is always growing and dynamic. You don’t take a single course and master it; rather, it continues to evolve as you dedicate time to it and increase your confidence. I see that happening every week – when Elissa and Lily run out of their class, so eager to show me what they’ve created in their latest session. The drawings are piling up…which means yours truly has some organizing to do. But finding wall space for their latest masterpieces seems a small price to pay to encourage my little “artists under construction” to keep at it.
The next five-week session of the Young Rembrandts starts soon – Barrhaven, Stittsville and Orleans-based classes start on Nov. 15 and Kanata starts on Nov. 22. For more information and to register, visit the Young Rembrandts web site.