Students at artspark develop skills in problem solving, collaboration, and innovation, through art. Image courtesy Andrea Rollins
by Jamie Siebrase
Situated just off the main strip of Historic Downtown Littleton, ArtSpark Creative Studio is more than an art studio. “We are nurturing independent thinkers, and helping students develop skills like problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation,” says the studio’s co-founder and co-owner, Michele Hardesty.
Hardesty and her business partner—co-founder and co-owner Andrea Rollins—worked together for six years in an elementary school before launching ArtSpark last summer. They wanted to foster an environment where kids can bring their own ideas, and materials are taught in context, says Rollins.
You won’t find copycat art projects here. Drawing on elements of Montessori education and TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior), Hardesty and Rollins crafted a community-based art lab where artists of all ages and skill levels can “work in a way that makes sense for their unique ideas,” Rollins says.
Classes begin with a lesson on technique. “If students are interested, they can try it,” says Rollins. “But we give them plenty of space to execute their artistic vision.”
As students work, Rollins and Hardesty roam the room, and provide one-on-one instruction. This process-driven method is applied in adult workshops, too, which are offered monthly in addition to a grown-up meet-up on Thursdays.
Rollins and Hardesty put on about 25 classes weekly for ages one and up, beginning with parent-tot Spark Art classes rooted in experiential art and sensory play. At 75-minute-long Little Sparks sessions, toddler and preschool participants ages three to six are dropped off, and given freedom to explore a variety of art tables equipped with materials for activities, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and fiber art.
An after-school Spark Club is held daily for kids ages five to 13, and Tuesday and Thursday class themes incorporate sewing and Legos; tweens and teens are invited to the studio in the evenings, from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m., for a big-kid version of Spark Club.
Hardesty and Rollins invite guests to play on Saturdays during open studio hours. “This is a time to come with the whole family or drop off kids ages five and up,” Hardesty says.
Keep an eye out for ArtSpark’s school-day-off and summer camps, and forthcoming homeschool classes. Artful birthday parties cost $150 for the first four kids, and $12 for each additional child.
Check it Out
5743 S. Prince St., Littleton
Need to know
Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and after hours by appointment.
Prices vary by class; drop-in sessions start at $15, but first-time guests can try any class for $8. Packages are available.
On first Fridays and third Saturdays, parents can drop off their children for two hours at Kids Art Nite—an evening packed with creativity and pizza for ages five and up.