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April 3, 2012 > Young Rembrandts encourages art for youths

Young Rembrandts encourages art for youths

Story and photos by Julie Grabowski

Young artists, parents, and friends gathered at the Nile Cafe on Sunday, March 11 to celebrate creative work generated through the Young Rembrandts program and witness its installation in the cafe. "Meet the Artists Day" showcased 22 pieces of art by 17 kids who delighted in their displayed artwork, and signed their poster board pieces with a giant pencil. Blue cellophane wrapped gift packs were waiting for the artists, containing markers, colored pencils, a Sharpie, and pencil, all the necessaries to keep creating art.

Sunflowers, reindeer, snowmen, fall leaves, pumpkins, a cartoon horse, mechanical friends, and even Rembrandt himself will now be a permanent part of the Nile Cafe. The original art was copied, scaled down and applied to three tabletops in support of the Young Rembrandts program and the promotion of art.

Young Rembrandts is an international franchise which serves to enhance the academic success of kids ages 4 to 13 through art education. For over 24 years the program has offered instruction in the basics and fundamentals of drawing, also focusing on how to properly hold a writing implement and improve penmanship. It is highly structured and has specific teaching methods including step-by-step instruction and time management, requiring students to complete a drawing in one hour.

"With Young Rembrandts, children learn how to better observe and experience an increasingly visual world, build confidence and self-esteem, solve problems and set and achieve goals," says East Bay and Lafayette franchise owner/director Sadhna Sharma. "It also helps children develop fine motor skills and attention to detail. Documented evidence shows a direct correlation between art and increased academic performance."

With the arts hard hit on all sides, increasingly cut out of schools and frequently dismissed as unnecessary, Young Rembrandts is a good option for parents to enrich their children's lives through creativity, as well as enhance learning by using their creative right brain with the left analytical brain. "Extensive research shows that in order to maximize learning, children need to participate in programs that engage both the left and right hemispheres of the brain," says Sharma. "Young Rembrandts' step-by-step drawing method takes the right-brained, non-verbal activity of drawing and breaks it down into a left-brained, verbal explanation of shape, relation, and order sequencing. That way, every child, regardless of natural artistic talent (right brain dominance), can experience the pride and satisfaction that comes from creating artwork."

Instructor Robin Humrick teaches elementary drawing and cartooning. "They just have so much fun," she says of the program's impact. "They're just so excited about learning new things - art terms, props, they just love it." Humrick says seeing their eyes light up makes her day.

Nine-year-old Evelyn Weston has been drawing with Young Rembrandts for one year at Niles Elementary. Her mother, Michelle Coutant, says Evelyn brought home a notice about the classes, excited to participate, and just loves it. "It gives her another outlet to express herself," says Coutant. "It is something that she talks about, that she's excited about." The art class also serves as a great motivator and an alternative to day care. Coutant says it gives her daughter something constructive to do after school, that she's learning, and tells the story behind each of her pictures. Evelyn collects all her work in an art binder and proudly brings it out to show people.

This is the second year that Sherry Higgs has had her 9-year-old daughter Sofia in drawing classes. Higgs says she was actively looking for an arts program and had tried many before Young Rembrandts. She loves the program for its on-campus location, the colorful and positive pictures it generates, as well as how Young Rembrandts supports the community and issues bigger than just drawing. "This program gets her excited," says Higgs, adding that with extras like "Meet the Artists Day" Sofia "gets to see the fruits of her labor." And the benefits are apparent. "Her brain is like a race car," says Higgs of her high-energy daughter, stating that in creating art her focus increases, she slows down, and becomes meticulous.

Classes cost about $15 per session with supplies included, and are held for one hour once a week at various location during the school year. Classes are conducted in the safe environment of school campuses, day care and community centers, and have a maximum of 20 kids in each class in order to provide a good quality experience.

Young Rembrandts has recently established a national partnership with Michaels Arts and Crafts, and will also be offering adult classes later in the year called "Design by Drawing." In addition to individual adults, Sharma says they hope to bring their curriculum to companies to use as team building exercises.

Spring and summer workshops will be starting soon, offering a variety of drawing experiences. The Eric Carle Drawing Workshop for ages 4-6 treats kids to a reading of Carle's popular stories then creating creatures inspired by the books. Explore the far reaches of space by drawing planets, aliens, and spaceships in the Junior Space Workshop for ages 5-7, or venture beneath the waves with Junior Under the Sea. Kids 9-14 can learn about different artists such as Henri Matisse and Paul Cezanne in Pastel - Art History with the Masters, and reproduce their famous masterpieces. Or learn the Anime style and create your own characters in Anime Cartoon Drawing (ages 7-13).

Excitement and discovery await! Sign up for classes in Fremont through, or visit to learn more.
For more information, contact Sadhna Sharma at (925) 353-1704.

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