- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - It took only a split second for 8-year-old Aiden Hoft to select his color choice.

“We can make the witch green,” he said as he took the brush in his hand.

The second-grader was more than ready to start painting the first of three pieces he had molded over the last two weeks in David Pushkin’s after-school clay sculpting class.

Pushkin, a former college professor and elementary level guide at Mountaineer Montessori School, opened Charleston Studio School, on Bigley Ave., in early October.

“It’s a good starter space,” Pushkin said.

He was encouraged to offer his own classes by the parents of his former students and believes that he’s filling a void in the area where he grew up.

“I went to art school in the ‘80s and I grew up in Charleston, and I’d really like to be the person in a child’s life that helps them discover that part of themselves,” Pushkin said.

“Looking around at Charleston, we’ve always had a very arts-supportive community, but I don’t think we’ve had a really serious art school. We have art departments and people that do projects here and there. I thought that there was a need for something a little more serious and more skill-oriented.”

Currently, Pushkin teaches children’s clay sculpting on Wednesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. He also offers after-school watercolor painting, basic drawing and figure drawing classes, and adult figure drawing classes on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

“I’m going to stick with drawing, painting and sculpture,” Pushkin said.

“There are a lot of performance opportunities around, but I don’t think there are a lot of fine arts opportunities. That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this.”

Classes are divided up into three-week sessions.

“I designed the classes to be in three-week sessions, so if someone comes just for three weeks they can still get a progression of the classes, but anyone could add along the way,” Pushkin said.

“It’s no problem for me to have one student working on a coil pot while another is working on a portrait, as long as the class sizes are small.”

Pushkin uses the time while the students are working to teach applicable terms and concepts.

“I can kind of slide things in there that normally they wouldn’t be interested in, but if it helps them work on their project then they’re more in tune,” Pushkin said.

“It’s not a kind of talk-down instruction where they have to be quiet and listen to every word and repeat what I do, but it’s also not just a creative experience where everyone’s coloring.”

The studio environment provides students an opportunity to develop problem solving, public speaking and critical thinking skills and hand-eye coordination.

“It’s an opportunity to teach direct experience in a culture where everything is mediated,” Pushkin said.

For more information on Charleston Studio School or register to for classes, call 304-205-4660, email [email protected] or visit www.facebook.com/tcss.org. Enrollment is open, but seats are very limited. The cost is $85 (materials included) per three-week session.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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