Students at two local schools are learning first hand that they have what it takes to be artists.
Art Innovators, an after-school program is running at both John Mahood and Riverside public schools.
Paul Field, who is running the local Art Innovators franchise, said he has been looking for years for an art program that would encourage this kind of creativity in young kids.
Field comes to the program with a background in social work, where he has used his own interest in art to develop art programs for troubled youth in group homes, with much success.
"Art is incredibly therapeutic," said Field. "I use it for myself. When I've had a tough day, I go home and paint."
At John Mahood school last week, the young charges in Field's care went from a blank white piece of paper to a vibrant beach scene, with surfboards resting in the sand.
Field, along with Jessika Fiorillo, showed the students the various steps they needed to follow, by drawing straight lines and curved lines to replicate that night's project.
And while all of the students had the same general instruction for their projects, that's where the similarity ended. One girl, Fiona Dewar, decided that half of her beach was covered with snow — and that was just fine for Field and Fiorillo.
"We let them see everything doesn't have to be perfect," said Fiorillo.
When Fiorillo or Field are drawing the project for the students, they often model mistakes so that the children can see it's not the end of the world. A funny crab becomes a crab from outer space, a blotch on the paper becomes a rock. Anything can be used.
This philosophy is seen throughout the program — the beginning exercise at this week's lesson had students close their eyes and doodle on a page, and then turn their doodle into an actual picture.
Throughout the class, students are encouraged to use a variety of materials, including pastels and markers, another way to bring their own individual feel to their project.
Field said that students often feel intimidated at the beginning of a class, thinking there is no way they can draw the picture that he is asking them to draw.
But by the end of the class, they find they can.
"Whether they are in senior kindergarten or Grade 8, they can do it," said Field. "This program breaks it down into parts they can achieve."
For the students in the program, however, it's a little more simple — they are just enjoying themselves doing something they love.
"I like that I get to do a whole lot of art, because art is fun," said Emily Morden.
Art Innovators is running a program at both schools until mid-December. Registration for January will begin soon.
For more information, contact Paul Field at 226-338-8588 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.