hello Lilly!

advanced art classes for kidsThis week, we continue with our feature interviews with our AFI 5 students, the first class of Art Foundations Intensive students to go through our program. We are happy to introduce you to energetic 8th grader Lilly; read on to learn more about this fun-loving art student.

body painting lily finished2What is your first memory of making art?
Pictures of me covered in blue paint making baby hand and footprints.

What does art mean to you?
A very special way to express yourself. It’s calming and relaxing for me.

nj art class for kidsDo you have a favorite medium (painting, pencil, clay)?

Is there something that you like to draw/paint again and again?

art studio for kids new jewseyHow long have you been coming to The Messy Artist?
3-4 years

 What is your favorite piece of art that you made at The Messy Artist?
Too hard to decide!

What do you love about The Messy Artist?
Everyone is so nice and the classes are more us just working together to learn and have fun. It feels very free and you learn interesting things you wouldn’t learn in a regular art class.tween art

What are your favorite things to do when you are not making art?
Play with animals.

What would you say to someone who says they aren’t good at art?
Everybody has their own way of doing art.

What is your favorite food?
Fruit.nj kids art class

What is your favorite piece of art in your house?
An abstract/landscape oil painting

Do you have a favorite color?
Any bright color.

the messy artistThank you, Lilly! We can’t wait to see what you create next!

Hello again Charley!

“My favorite thing about the class is the students because they make me laugh, and Miss Viviana because she is a great role model, teacher and artist.”

new jersy art class for kidsIt’s been two years since we last met up with AFI student Charley in October 2013. Watching her grow as an artist and a student has been a rewarding experience, and is especially meaningful to us as she is part of the very first class of Art Foundations Intensive students to go through The Messy Artist.

Here is a follow up interview with Charley, catching up with her latest news:

advanced fine art classes for kids new jerseyWhat grade are you in now?

I am in 5th grade now.

How has your art changed over the past 2 years?

My art has become more meaningful. I now have a reason for each piece, they are about my life or I try to tell a story.

Charley’s final project last year, displayed in the AFI Art Show: “Bucket List”, Paper/String. (Please click on photos above to open a larger slideshow)

I made a box with papers that has everything I want to achieve written on them and everything I want when I get older in life. There are papers everywhere and I had to make room for the more important things by hanging them up. It looks like there is a lot going on and it can be stressful. This is the feeling I want people to relate to when they look at my art. It tells a story.

What have you learned about recently at The Messy Artist that you found exciting?

My favorite recent thing I’ve learned was special effects makeup. I loved it because we’ve never learned anything like it before and I used it in my Halloween costume.

special effects make up for kidsIs your life much different from 2 years ago?

I have joined cheerleading and take swimming stroke lessons this year too.

What is your favorite part of AFI art class?

My favorite thing about the class is the students because they make me laugh, and Miss Viviana because she is a great role model, teacher and artist.art student feature kids art class north nj

Just for fun: don’t peek at your previous interview answers! It will be interesting to see if they have changed.

What is your favorite color? Perrywinkle (2013: light blue)

What is the favorite place you’ve been? Whistler, Canada because I love skiing with my family there. (2013: Puerto Rico)

What are your favorite things to do in your free time? I like to write stories, draw and invent things. (2013: When I am not making art, I love to play outside, swimming and diving is what I love the most in summer. I also like acting, I have been in a few plays and taken acting classes. I really like to make silly videos on the ipad with my brother.)

What advice do you have for adults?  I really like the song /quote “Live forever young” by Bob Dylan. I listen to him with my dad a lot. (2013: It’s okay to get dirty.)

Thank you, Charley. We look forward to seeing what you create next!nj art class for kids

hello AFI Art Show!

best art class for kids north jerseyWe had another very successful session of Art Foundations Intensives here at The Messy Artist, with an expansion of the program, now in its second year. This year, we grew to four levels of students who completed the comprehensive course, up from three last year. Our Art Foundations Intensive is an invite-only full-year course for the serious art student, with a prerequisite of taking our Art Foundations Class. The AFI students work for 35 weeks on drawings, paintings, and sculptures, in addition to learning the philosophies behind great art.

To augment their class, this year students also took a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Messy Artist instructors accompanied the students and discussed pieces of art on display, and students sketched in the galleries.

The students presented final pieces in an art show on Sunday, June 14th in our studios. On display were final projects, as well as a site-specific art piece created by the students before the show. The site-specific piece consisted of life size tape body sculptures lit by glowing paint in a darkened room.childrens art show nj the messy artist art studio for kids

There was also a participatory mural created at the show, where guests were given slips of paper with ideas on what to draw on the mural.art class camp and party new jersey

The students are justifiably proud of their artworks, and we are impressed with all the hard work they put in. We can’t wait to see what they do next year!

hello Anthony!

best art classes njInstructor Anthony Castellano brings a wonderful mix of art history knowledge, teaching expertise, and enthusiasm to his classes at The Messy Artist. His love of art is infectious and inspirational to the young students, and he keeps them laughing while they are learning.  Introducing cartooning classes to the curriculum has been a popular addition for older elementary and middle school students. Here’s a chance to get to know more about Anthony in this interview.

What are the first art experiences you remember as a child?

My first experiences in art actually started at my own kitchen table. At a very young age, I could be found drawing or coloring whatever I was inspired in at the time, whether it be animals or a favorite cartoon. When I was in Kindergarten, I won a Halloween coloring contest. That motivated me to continue art as a child. Eventually, I would go on to participate in the talented art program in elementary school. By the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to make art my career. In recent years, I have become an art teacher working in a variety of schools with nearly all grade levels.

Young Anthony drawing at his kitchen table with his Mom
Young Anthony drawing at his kitchen table with his Mom

What is your background in art?

I graduated with a B.A. in Art and Education from Caldwell University in 2010. There, I was enrolled in a variety of courses such as painting, drawing, sculpture, computer graphics, and art history. One of my favorite classes was a museology course, which focused on the operation and management of museums and galleries. My experiences in art didn’t stop there! Also in college, I was the president of the Caldwell Art Club and exhibited my work in several town art shows and on campus. Throughout my educational career, I worked as a set designer and stage manager for many musical productions, which included Once Upon a Pedistal and Bye Bye Birdie. While teaching, I became art club advisor for “Young @ Art” to a new generation of artists. I am now an active member of Art Educators of New Jersey.

At a gallery exhibit with his artwork
At a gallery exhibit with his artwork

How long have you worked at the Messy Artist? What classes do you teach?

I have been part of the Messy Artist family for 3 years now! It was like yesterday, coming to Messy as the newest addition in 2012 when we moved to East Hanover. In the beginning, I began assisting at birthday parties and quickly worked my way into teaching our studio classes. I started helping with Storybook Art and Art Foundations 101 classes. I then taught Cartooning for a year, which was a very enjoyable experience. This past season, I taught a variety of classes, which included a section of Art Foundations Intensive, Chagalls, Monets, and even a Picasso class! You can also find me managing our birthday parties on the weekend, at many adult events during the year, or around our studio working on our lifesize Artist Harvest sculptures.

What are some of your favorite projects or topics to teach?

My favorite type of art will always be two-dimensional. Drawing or painting are two of my favorite concentrations. I have a big interest in art history and enjoy incorporating art movements or famous works into my lessons. Abstract and Non figurative art from the 1900’s make for great open-ended projects with our students. Artists like Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Malevich are unique and kid friendly. They have inspired me, and I find that they inspire our students as well with their vibrant colors and fun shapes. In my opinion, any lesson involving analogous colors or the use of blending techniques really drives a lesson home. The kids love it when I sing “let it blend” or when I say “color in one direction, and not the band!”fine art classes for kids morris county The Messy Artist art studio for kids

What sort of art do you do on your own time?

Though I am very much inspired by abstract art, I always find myself creating representational art on my own time. It’s a very strange phenomenon! In recent years, I have created many colored pencil portraits of people or animals. I’m not the traditional landscape or still life type of guy. When I paint, I really enjoy using oil or acrylic, and when I draw, I can’t resist my Prismacolor pencils. In terms of subject matter, animals are still at the forefront, especially for my cartoons. One of my most recent paintings is called “A Flourishing Twist,” which features a combination of snakes and my favorite flower, the tiger lily. The piece is inventive, and borders 1930’s surrealism. I like the idea of fantasy meeting reality for my future work, and can’t wait to see where my creative juices take me.

What advice do you have for kids who say they are not good artists?

When a child says, “I’m not a good artist,” I reassure them that they are. I say that they have just developed their own style, but don’t know it yet. More often than not, I see students trying to be like the masses and create art like someone else, as opposed to being original. I always suggest to my students that they should be different. Sometimes it may be the medium that causes students to get frustrated. It is important to realize that we will not be the best at everything and that’s okay too! Some students may be stronger with 2D art as opposed to 3D art or more familiar with one subject matter than another. Sticking with what works is important as a foundation to good art! I tell my students that it shouldn’t stop them from trying something new. We learn by getting out of our comfort zone every now and then. Focusing on the process instead of the end product may be difficult, but I tell my students to continue and keep trying. I also say to the students that Art stands for “Always Respect (yourself) and Try. We are our own work of art!Anthony with a student at Messy Artist new jersey art classes for kids art class for toddlers in nj

What advice do you have for parents to help them to encourage their children in art?

My advice to parents looking to get their children involved in art is to make the first step. Sign up for a trial and take class at the Messy Artist. We want our children to have fun and discover art through the process, and still make beautiful art. It is important to immerse a child in art at a very young age. So many things can be learned from playing and experimenting with different materials in new and exciting ways. Social skills, communication, and fine motor development are all incorporated in the making of art. As a child, I was very fortunate to have been surrounded by family that encouraged me to use my skills and talents. Likewise, I recommend that parents do the same for their children. It is important for guardians to devote art-making time together. Take a trip to a museum! It will allow a child to become inspired and have an authentic real life art experience. Enter a child’s work in a contest. Save the work made in school, and display it. That shows a child that they’re not only important, but reinforces that they are an artist!art class for children new jersey

Do you have a favorite food?

Eating is an art, and yes, I can eat! My favorite foods will always be tasty and colorful. Any eating experience that speaks to the senses makes my tummy smile! I love to cook and bake on my free time and I pay close attention to the presentation of my food. Sushi, especially maki rolls, have so much texture, and eating them is like a performance art piece. For my sweet tooth, ice cream is not only flavorful, but colorful, and the design made by a soft serve swirl looks great on a hot summer day! I guess one could say I turn my eating habits into a masterpiece.

How about hobbies?

When I’m not “arting,” I’m either singing or listening to music. Being involved in the performing arts has also been a hobby. In college, I was part of the choir and musical theater workshops. I’m a baritone by nature. My messy artist coworkers know me as the “human radio” who is always breaking out into random song. I enjoy collecting and playing music for my friends and family too. They know me as DJ Tony C. Currently, my ipod has 8000 songs and counting; I see no signs of slowing down. Other hobbies of mine include working out at the gym, adventuring to new places to eat, or traveling.

Favorite museum/gallery/online place to look at art?

My favorite museum to visit is the Museum of Modern Art. Seeing Pop Art from Oldenberg or Warhol in person is always exciting! I think that the best exhibit I ever saw was at the Guggenheim in 2010 for the Wassily Kandinsky exhibit. Coincidentally, the show occurred at the same time I was completing my senior thesis on how Kandinsky “made music” through the elements of art in his work. Taking a random trip through the Chelsea galleries in New York has kept me in tune with the contemporary artists of today. Though I love art, I am equally inspired by the historical and scientific nature of things from animals, to plants, geology, and the planets. The Smithsonian Museum will always be number one destination for a little history or science.

Favorite place you have been or would like to go?

Italy! Greece! Spain! France! If there is any place I’d like to go and visit, that one place would be somewhere in Europe. I’d really love to tour as many European countries as possible and immerse myself in the art, food, and atmosphere of each. When the time comes, I’d love to see places like the Parthenon, the Sistine Chapel, or the Eiffel Tower. I know it sounds cliché, but Europe is where many of the master painters made their mark! Here at home, there are still many states I’d like to visit too, which include Western coast. Hawaii looks like it will be in near future! No matter where I go on my artistic journey, I will always make my traveling experiences part of my art.Anthony Castellano the messy artist

hello Victoria!

This week we have another post in our “Meet the Staff” series, with Victoria Plummer. You’ve seen her photos on our Facebook pages, read her blog posts here, and perhaps gotten an email created by her. As our Marketing Associate, she does all that and more to help spread the word about The Messy Artist. She’s been part of The Messy Artist Staff for over 6 years.

victoria plummer the messy artistWhat are the first art experiences you remember as a child?

My Dad was always doing some kind of art when I was growing up: pen and ink when I was young, and blacksmithing later. I always liked to draw and paint when I was a kid.

What is your background in art?

My background is in filmmaking: I got my undergrad and graduate degrees from Temple University in Philadelphia. I made a bunch of student films and worked as an editor before starting a family.

How long have you worked at the Messy Artist?

I started working at The Messy Artist as an assistant teacher in 2009. After a while I became a head teacher, and transitioned over to marketing associate in April 2012. I enjoy coming around to different classes each week to take photos. It’s always fun to see what projects kids are up to and capture their energy.

the messy artist art studio for kids best art class camp and party north nj childrens art classes new jersey art classes for kids NJDonna originally asked me if I was interested in teaching because I had been taking classes with my daughters at The Messy Artist for a few years. We live in the same neighborhood, and she knew both my kids went to the Millburn Co-op, where the parents spend a lot of time in the classroom and are used to being around a lot of kids. I enjoy teaching art and love to see kids experiencing the power of creativity.

What sort of art do you do on your own time?

I started printmaking about 10 years ago through classes at the Visual Art Center in Summit. There was a class I used to take on Thursdays nights which got me really enamored with it. I eventually started going to the open printmaking studio on Fridays and did that for a few years. I’ve been working too much to do much printmaking recently, but am looking forward to getting back to it. You can see my works on my website, victoriaplummer.com. Some of my photographic work is also on there; I’m self-taught but learned a lot through cinematography classes while in school that applies.

Printmaking is definitely one of my favorite things to teach when I am teaching art to kids.

What advice do you have for kids who say they are not good artists?

I always try to emphasize the uniqueness of each person’s creation: they are the only person in the whole world who can make the piece of art that they just made. That is something special! Anyone can learn to be good with enough practice; they should celebrate what they can do and their own personal style.

What advice do you have for parents to help them to encourage their children in art?

Just having art supplies around that kids can get to easily is a wonderful encouragement.

Do you have a favorite food?

I have a terrible sweet tooth, so pretty much any candy, baked good, or ice cream would be a favorite food.

Favorite museum/gallery/online place to look at art?

I think MOMa is my favorite museum. I love living so close to NYC so that it is easy to get in and see often. But I really enjoy seeing art anywhere, especially when I travel. And of course, I love to see all the wonderful artwork created by the students at The Messy Artist!