Today, as Thanksgiving approaches, I am struck with gratitude to all of those associated with our art studios, who make the world a better place through repeated acts of kindness and generosity of spirit. Our students, their parents, their teachers, and so many others warm my heart now, as they do every single day. Here’s how:

You came through for Bright Artists: This month, over 100 families were able to participate in the Bright Artists fundraiser, placing 201 orders, which raised a record-breaking $3,651.00 in profit, 100% of which goes directly to providing high quality school outreach art classes for children who could normally never study fine art.  This program means so much to each child who gets the chance to participate. The improvement over last year’s totals has made it possible for an additional 24 children in need to become Bright Artists! And, as we I write this, a dozen more art studios in Los Angeles, San Diego, along the country’s west coast in California and Washington State have been kind enough to also start Bright Artists fundraisers of their own!  Wow.

Art Steps parents are amazing: There is nothing quite like witnessing parents take the time, week in and week out, to feed their children’s spirit through an artistic outlet.  Week in and week out, they carve out time during busy lives, get into the car, often packing up little ones in tow, and make their way from far and wide, into our studios. Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas and other loved ones take the time to walk in and check with teachers, spend time scheduling on the phone, and provide support at home, buy art supplies and more. Watching a child proudly bring a finished artwork to that supportive, encouraging adult warms my heart, every time.

Art Steps teachers rock: I am humbled to work with such an impressive group of kind, considerate, knowledgeable, passionate, dedicated individuals. At least once a week I come across teachers on their breaks, and almost inevitably, they are wrapt in conversation about one student or another; their progress, marveling how much they’ve grown, meeting a particular need at a rough time, appreciating their unique personalities, or brainstorming to maximize inspiration. If they’re not talking about a kid, they’re almost always sharing an art book, discussing a show, or getting together to exhibit.  Our teachers really, truly care about both kids and art, support each other phenomenally, and have my deep and ongoing respect.

Our teachers rocked their first session at the nonprofit: So that Bright Artists can have the highest quality of art instruction, Art Steps sends our highly trained teachers into schools to run the program.  Moy, Taylor, Dekota and our new Bright Artists Program Director, Allie, poured their hearts into teaching the first session of the school year, which wrapped up with their students becoming Bright Artists, indeed. I am immensely grateful for their hard work, enthusiasm, dedication, and heart.

All our staff forms an amazing team: Truly, you couldn’t ask for a more supportive set of individuals.  From our office staff, Debi and Ashley, to our accountant Pam, to our teacher’s aides who are also former students: Mia and Katelynn, to our extended network of partners in providing everything needed to keep our doors open and running smoothly, we are blessed to be surrounded with extremely hard-working, optimistic, cooperative folks, who feed our spirits by making each day fun. Thank you.

Last but never least, our students are the BEST. With faith in themselves and a love of art brewing in their hearts, our students, bit by bit, seek to develop an amazing skill.  And they succeed.  Their smiles, or better, looks of tounge-out concentration, indicate that they are experiencing focus, and are living 100% in the present moment.   Every time a child has persevered through a challenge, the world has become a little brighter.  Former students have returned to volunteer, have sent postcards, and have just stopped by to say hi. I see them on social media, getting design and fine art degrees, illustrating books, and generally leading happy lives.  Our teens’ painting skills are incredible, and when they stick around through high school and even into their college years and beyond, I am touched and struck with gratitude, that perhaps we have touched upon something in them, just as they have touched our hearts, each day.

We are so, so lucky to get to do this beautiful sort of work. We know that we are putting something truly good into the world. Thank you for being a part of it all.  Wishing you an abundant Thanksgiving, full of love.

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