WHITMIRE — Main Street in Whitmire looks quiet from the outside but on a late Wednesday afternoon, young people are brewing up creativity in Charlie Wilbanks photography studio.
The Creative Hands Arts and Music Studio has had a couple of classes so far and meet every Wednesday in Whitmire at Wilbanks’ studio toward the end of Main Street.
Wilbanks is in charge of organizing and publicizing the event and she has a teacher come out to show the young artists instruction on art principles.
Mid-Carolina High junior and artist Maggie Riddle merged with Wilbanks and teaches art classes to two age groups — 5 to 11 and 12 and up — every Wednesday. The younger group meets at 4 p.m. and the older group meets at 5 p.m.
Riddle and Wilbanks’ connection runs deep as Riddle’s mother, Newberry College art professor Paula Riddle, taught Wilbanks art at Newberry High School.
Wilbanks said that Riddle is great with teaching and showing the kids techniques and tips and also explained that Riddle has won many awards.
Her awards are from Newberry Ag Expo 2012, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Reel Art Competition, S.C. State Fair 2011, S.C. Governor’s School 2011 and other achievements.
However, Wilbanks also commends Riddle for her ability to relate to the kids.
“She’s laid back, easy going,” said Wilbanks, “plus, this gives them someone to look up to. She’s a good mentor.”
Riddle said that even though her mother is an art teacher, she never thought about doing it herself but enjoys the interactions with the kids.
As far as teaching art for a career, she’s not too sure about that. For the present time, Riddle is focused on helping children learn more about art and producing art work they can be proud of.
“My mom suggested I try this for experience. It seemed challenging, but it’s helped me interact with the kids and the parents some,” said Riddle, who said she’s not one to back down from a challenge.
Riddle does get suggestions from her mom, she adds, emphasizing how “it’s all new to me.”
As for lessons, Riddle said she also thinks about what she’s learned from her art teacher, Debbie Murphy at Mid-Carolina High School.
In addition to the experience that Riddle gets from teaching the art classes in Whitmire, she’s also earning money for her school trip to Italy this summer with other art students from Mid-Carolina High.
Riddle will continue teaching through the end of this school year but art classes will resume. While Riddle isn’t sure about teaching after this school year, Wilbanks said she intends to keep the classes going every Wednesday and also have a summer art camp.
She is looking for teachers as well as business sponsors who can help cut down on the cost of $40 a month plus a materials fee for the young artists.
“Some kids can’t afford that monthly fee,” said Wilbanks who doesn’t want a child to be left out for that reason. She said that with sponsors, she thought it would be a good idea for businesses to display the child’s artwork as well.
While the children are still in a classroom like setting, there is still a laid back atmosphere where the kids can let loose their creative energy.
On Wednesday, the children were working on a second part of their shading exercise in which Riddle was teaching them about the direction of light and the study of shapes.
She also wants to do a mixed media collage, watercolor and sculptures.
One student, Baylee Strickland, exclaims that she “loves art” especially painting as she focuses on her shading exercise.
Another student, Price Alexander, said, “I’m a really good drawer and I want to excel at art,” in addition to plenty of other activities he wants to conquer.
Jessica Martin also proclaims her love for art: “I learned about shading and making things look 3-D.”
The excitement is contagious for the children as they learn about becoming better artists. They will get a chance to showcase their work in May with an art exhibit.
For more information about the art classes, contact Wilbanks at 864-542-5429 or visit the Facebook page Creative Hands Art and Music Studio. Classes are every Wednesday starting at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.