Aided by two instructors, young artists age 6 to 8 carefully crafted collages of the sun, water and a sea turtle in the style of famed illustrator Eric Carle.
The students are part of the Apprentice Academy, taught by Gig Harbor-based sculptor Mardie Rees. The program launched this summer, featuring four-day classes that teach the basic fundamentals of the fine arts for students up to age 12.
The class on Carle uses the artist’s unique collage style to teach color theory and shapes. It aims to make the work feel professional to the young students. There’s no mass market crayons in this studio — all materials are the same as would be used by any older artist.
“For the most part, this is exactly how (Carle) does it,” said Jeremy Broderick, Rees’ husband and administrator of the program.
The summer program is the result of Rees and Broderick seeking to fill a need they see in youth programs. With two young children of their own, ages 3 and 5, Rees and Broderick are aware that the arts are falling by the wayside as public schools are strained for resources.
There are so many opportunities in athletics, Rees said, but sometimes that leaves children that thrive in an artistic environment behind.
For Broderick, giving children tools in the arts can set them up for a lifetime.
“It’s obvious, as a parent, that you want to chose what’s right for your kids, which is to mold and instruct them,” he said.
Rees, 34, knows how important a creative outlet can be.
“Everybody needs a way to use art as an outlet,” Rees said. “Art is always about expressing yourself.”
Rees showed an interest in art around age 3, but she became serious about it later on. When she was 14, she moved to South America.
“I was at a point where I realized that art was how I was dealing with all the challenges of living in a Third World country,” Rees said.
The Apprentice Academy aims to do more than just keep children busy with arts and crafts. The couple wanted to craft a curriculum that centered on the main points of art: sculpting, drawing and painting.
The goal is to push the limits without going over students’ heads. The curriculum is built to be achievable but still challenging. On top of that, subject studies in classes based on Eric Carle and another on sculptor Giacometti are created to have intrinsic artistic value.
It’s not about a coloring page to be temporarily taped to the refrigerator. Students will have sculptures set in plaster and clay pieces kiln-fired.
“There’s legitimate reason to believe that some of the projects that come out of this class can and will be appreciated in the home,” Broderick said.
Classes conclude Aug. 27. Should the pilot program this summer be successful, Rees and Broderick are considering an after-school program and possibly classes for adults.
Each session costs $150, with up to a $30 charge for materials. All classes are taught in Rees’ studio in Gig Harbor.