Our Philosophy


Who We Are

At The Messy Artist, art is a platform for learning. Our station play for 1.5 – 5 year olds is not only fun, but serves a specific purpose in promoting social, emotional, and intellectual growth. Our approach is rooted in the research of some of the greatest thinkers in child development, such as Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, and John Dewey.

As students advance, they enter our Studio 356 program for ages 6 and up, where they begin learning principles of art, art history, and technical skills using a variety of media. In addition, we offer intensive art classes for students who qualify, where we expand our skillset and explore the dialogue between artist and viewer.

Adults can indulge in our Wine Dine & Design workshops, where they can select a painting to create with friends while they enjoy refreshments and an evening of socialization.

Children 2 and up can even celebrate their birthdays here. We offer a wide variety of art projects, party packages, and add-ons for a fully customized experience.

Regardless of age, we encourage students to explore, create, and grow.

I Can Do It!

All Messy Artist activities and kids art lessons are developed to be age appropriate, and therefore encourage independence. As your children progress through the class and realize their successes, they become more willing to try out new ideas and become more self-assured. We teach a variety of kids art classes, including sculpture, clay, and drawing and painting for children.
The process of expressing their own artistic vision builds children’s self-esteem.

Hands off my Art!

We follow the “hands off” rule for our children’s art projects.  Even at the age of two, children take great pride in their work, and may become annoyed when we “help” them by painting or gluing on their picture.  Young children may need some basic instruction on how to use materials. However, we can instruct and provide gentle guidance without doing the project for them.

At the Messy Artist, there is no wrong way to do art. The “right way” is the way the artist (in this case your child) thinks the materials should be used.  We love to see them experiment and come up with new and wonderful ways of using art materials!

It’s All About the Process

At our studio, art is about the “process” rather than the end result.  Adults tend to think of art as artifacts to hang on the wall or display on a shelf.  If children are primarily concerned with what the completed object will look like, making art can become a chore, a task to be accomplished in a specific way.  It can also be frustrating when the final product does not match what the young artists picture in their heads.

The Messy Artist’s focus is on the act of creating art – the thinking, planning, and doing. We view art for children as a creative journey, rather than as a product.  Through the “process” children grow and flex their creative muscles.  They experiment with new materials and techniques, develop new skills, and feel the rush of creative joy!  Come discover the joy of art with your child.

Station Play

Station Play is a set of self-directed, open-ended activities. Each station is a sensory-rich learning environment that encourages exploration. Children are free to be decision makers; they decide which stations to explore, how to engage with each one, and how long to play. Station play provides both familiarity and variety. We keep the same stations every week, but change the materials.

Adults: Join the learning process alongside your child. Try to see the materials through their eyes. Create, play, and get messy – but allow your child to be the decision maker!

The Easel Station

The Easel Station provides upright surfaces – a set of easels – enabling children to reach all corners of their tableau and to see their results at eye level. We use tempera paint, glitter paint, markers, crayons, and chalk. We vary the easel surface from week to week. Sometimes it’s paper; other times it’s dry-erase boards or plexi-glass. Children get to exercise their creativity and use a different set of muscles by standing.

Adults: Feel free to paint and color alongside your child. Don’t instruct, but draw simple strokes your child can imitate.

The Messy Station

The Messy Station is where children use their senses to gather information about their surroundings. Varied materials facilitate exploration of color, texture, temperature, density, and fluidity. Children experiment with our stretchy goop, drippy slime, icy frozen paint, airy shaving cream, and much more.

Adults: Talk about what your child is sensing to establish a connection between language and the experience. Some children crave messy sensory play and dive right in, while others will shy away or poke at the unfamiliar substance at first. No matter – all children will learn and develop their senses while at this station.

The Project Station

The Project Station is the place for children to use familiar tools in non-traditional ways. Here it’s all about the work of creation, not the creation of works. We encourage young artists to think differently, to view everything with an open mind and wonder, “what if?” Children have their own ideas and learn best when they are free to test them on their own. The sample project is just an example, not a prototype, of a creative process using the available materials.

Adults: Resist the temptation to influence your child’s artistic process. Explore the materials alongside your child instead of “helping” them.

The Sensory Box

The Sensory Box enables children to develop cognitive skills by observing, experimenting, and formulating solutions to problems. They use tactile, visual, and auditory cues to gather information and test theories. What happens when I tip over this cup of beans? How does it sound? Can I empty the large cup of rice into the smaller cup? Your children are developing fine and gross motor skills as they pour, sift, and sort, and they are developing language, social, and pretend play skills as they share tools and interact with their peers.

Adults: Make bean soup or oatmeal muffins! Don’t forget to put it in the oven and share with friends! For older children, sorting beans by color, shape, or size is a lot of fun!

The Sensory Dough

The Sensory Dough is a source of endless creativity and fine-motor development as children roll, flatten, and poke at the vibrant, scented material. There are boundless ways to play. We purposely only provide one color to avoid concern about mixing colors. Sometimes tools are provided; other times our hands are our tools. Our toys are open ended in nature to provide more opportunities for creativity. To that end, we do not use cookie cutters.

Adults: Imitation is the key to language development starting with simple motor imitation. If you pound the dough and then your child repeats, that’s an important proxy in language development. Remember to always pair simple language with your actions, like poke, squeeze, or pull.