My Dreams for Teens

Today my elder son, Sam, turns 11 years old, and I’m feeling, more than ever, how very quickly our babies transition to their teenage years.  So many of our Art Steps kids have also transformed into teens, then, adults, before I know what’s hit me. And these teens have such changing needs. While my son still enjoys quite a bit of childhood innocence, adolescence is sure to become a turbulent time for him soon in one way or another, as it was for most of us.  For artists, creative experiences at this time can prove crucial in setting life’s direction. This is when self-consciousness collides with the need for experimentation, and confidence comes in waves, often hand-in-hand with measurable accomplishments.

Many of our teens have grown up with Art Steps, and while I hope that many will use their classical skills in a wide variety of applications, trying their hand in programs far and wide to stretch their potential, I am thrilled that so many stay with us and work toward mastering their craft through our amazing classical painting program.  I also feel a special responsibility toward our teens, as I remember how my artistic surroundings shaped my identity in my own youth, and want to provide them a well-rounded experience, in addition to ever more useful weekly classes.WC

Advanced Teen Curriculum:   With consultation from college admissions counselors, art teachers, professional artists, and counselors specializing in portfolio prep (see below), this individualized program takes a step beyond rendering to develop creativity, heightened classical skills, conceptual drawing skills, and critical thinking.  

Teen Only Classes: Professional artists in their own rite, all with fine art degrees, our head teachers have a deep understanding of what’s next for older artists from teens through adults.  Thanks to their amazing responses to teens’ needs over the years, special age 13 and up classes also provide the opportunity for sensitive listening to teens goals, fears, hopes, and expectations, in order for us to truly encourage and bring out the best of where creativity meets skill.

Teen Summer Workshops: Also, this year, we have expanded our summer camp experience to include (at teens’ request) individualized, uninterrupted painting time, illustration classes, perspective lessons, and more sophisticated cartooning/anime design time.

Portfolio Review: As the Director of Orange County studios, I am excited to announce that I also personally now conduct portfolio reviews for our students, to advise students and help their teachers work with them toward their artistic goals, including building a portfolio for art or to help with academic college admission. Contact Lyndsey to set up an appointment.

In fact, if you or your teen is now building an art portfolio for school, and you’d like the best possible resources at your fingertips, I also strongly recommend the services of Lorainne Serra’s company, Chiaro Design, which works directly with teens to focus intensively on creating an outstanding, competitive portfolio, with the goals of admission into the college of their choice, as well as maximizing personal artistic expression.  See her website at 

4f9b9825-d813-46d2-930b-b400a6539f9cWhat’s to come: Still, I feel that for teens, we at Art Steps have only just begun.  Teenagers have such a strong internal creative world, and tapping into that is crucial to those who seek artistic fulfillment.  In the months and years to come we intend to hold annual art exhibits based around a theme, where students curate, critique and hang their own shows, as that experience can transform the way students feel their work is seen.  We will be providing an online database of teen-friendly art resources including college-related summer programs, exhibits, contests, camps, and more.  In a year or two, I also hope to add museum field trips to our list of artistic offerings.

What I wish for most, for all my teens and for teen artists everywhere, is that they take personal joy in the art-making process, and, so often, the company we keep matters most. Teens will have a great time going out and visiting art museums, painting independently, and including their friends in these experiences, as what artists often need most is a community to share the give-and-take that’s essential to any creative process.  It’s an honor to be a part of that community for so many.  Look online for places and ways to connect with creative people.  Whether teens or adults, a creative community feeds our souls.  Even if it’s just sketching in the park with a friend, have fun out there, both in and out of class!  I look forward to the years to come, watching my teen artists, like my own soon-to-be teenage boy, grow, live fully, and shine.

Sam and Mom
Sam and me

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