Posts Tagged ‘arts instruction’


Amy Manson Puts the Fun in Functional Pottery

December 15, 2010

by Kimberly McCann-Pierce

“It found me,” says Amy Manson when asked how she settled upon pottery as her artistic medium. Talking over wine during an ice storm Amy agreed to take a pottery class with a friend. “It was pretty instantaneous,” she says, describing her kinship with pottery.

Amy draws her inspiration from nature. “I really like things that are found in nature. Clays and colors that are earth tone.” When she started, Amy strove for geometric perfection, the perfect clay pot or piece with contours and lines without flaw. As her artistic voice grew, she began to experiment in what she describes as “the fun and funky hand building” side of pottery.

Her Leesburg, Virginia studio is spotted with both the specificity of wheelwork and the hand fashioned clay shapes of funk. Amy describes hand building as “more instant”, giving the creator something useable right away. The flexibility of hand building permits patterning or free flowing creativity. While traditional wheelwork is strong in identifiable shape and contour, giving an easily recognized piece an immediate sense of place, hand patterning is different.

Amy’s hand patterned clay art ranges from twists, bends, speckles, and colorful dollops to delicately filigreed images inspired by birds, trees, Earth. Display shelves in her home studio boast trays with funky splash, artfully jagged lines, and trendy backgrounds. Next to the hand-patterned creations, geometrically perfect drinking cups line the shelves, popular pieces Amy designs for weddings and gift giving.

She sees herself moving more in the direction of creating the perfect imperfect piece, blending different artistic modalities to create something both fun and functional. I spot some pieces haphazardly placed on a bottom shelf and ask about them. “Oh, those are just my seconds,” she smiles. In looking around her studio, I find nothing but first rate artistic expression.

In addition to transforming clay, Amy also teaches several pottery courses throughout Loudoun County. Currently her work can viewed and purchased at the Gateway Gallery at: For more about Amy and her artistic journey visit the Gateway Gallery home page biography at:

Her teaching venues include:

The Round Hill Art Center, Round Hill, VA 2010
Children’s Ceramic Instructor
Handbuilding Instructor

The Old Furniture Factory, Round Hill, VA 2010
Adjunct Advanced Wheel Instructor
Beginning Wheel Instructor

ArtSquare, Leesburg, VA 2010
Children’s Ceramic/Art Instructor
“Get Me Started With Clay” Instructor

You can also follow Amy’s pottery adventures on her blog at


Member Spotlight: ARTLINGZ

August 16, 2010

By Allen Pearson

Love art, have or work with children or grandchildren?!? Want to create an art lesson but avoid the headaches and expenses? Check out – an art resource for parents, babysitters, teachers, grandparents, anyone involved with children ages 4 – 12!!

Artlingz is art instruction for children. My inquiry to the owner, Lori Schue, gave me several pages of information about her program. Prompt replies were more prompter than prompt, I was impressed. I read the material and became fascinated with the program.

To begin this journey, go to and look around. The website is user-friendly and designed to catch your attention and keep it. You want to investigate. Being adventurous, the Explorer link immediately got my attention. I clicked on it and took a virtual field trip around the world to many well-known art museums by websites.

An email address is needed to access materials which you can select and purchase. As stated several times, Artlingz keeps your email private and does not share! Not sharing is a good thing, in this case.

I entered the Lesson Vault where I found an incredible selection of projects you can choose. Projects are based on Artists, Technique, Topic, Medium, and Adaptive Art (art for children with disabilities will be launched soon). Move your mouse over one of the topics and look to the left at the canvas, a brief description appears giving a general idea for the plan. On the right side of the screen are links to information where you can learn to effectively use this valuable resource. I checked out the Mixed Media and Native American Indian links and quickly learned about making a headdress.

And, there’s a gallery where your children’s work can be posted. How cool is that?

An important note, teachers anywhere in the universe can purchase and use the curriculum offered as it goes beyond National Standards for Visual Arts guidelines needed for instruction in schools., created by Lori Schue, Visual Communications degree, taught and written children’s art curriculum for over 20 years for schools and international programs such as Scholastic. Authored “Art Works for Kids,” series of books published by Evan Moor Publishing.

Allen Pearson is a Nature, Dog and Cat Photographer and a Loudoun Arts Council member and volunteer, for which we are most grateful. You can see his work at


Happenings! A Summer Art Camp Primer

April 19, 2010

Hey, guess what? Summer’s almost here and the kids will be out of school!


Just kidding.
But what are the kids going to do all summer? Video games? TV? Whine?
I got two words for you: SUMMER CAMPS.
I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest you broaden your child’s mind with some creativity by attending an art camp. Following are some great choices for Loudoun children.

Loudoun Parks and Recreation has a host of Performing & Visual Art Camps for kids aged 3 – 17. They start at page 11 on the PDF, including the BIRDS OF A FEATHER ART CAMP out in Purcellville, VA. This art studio will provide a truly unique art experience for child. For pictures and more information about The Birds of a Feather Art School, read this month’s Member Spotlight on the Loudoun Arts Directory

Kidz Act – If your child has a flair for the dramatic, perhaps a summer camp at Kidz Act will fit the bill. For more information, go to 

ArtSquare, Loudoun’s premier arts destination, announces SUMMER CAMPS 2010. We offer a vast array of summer camps for ages five through teens. Registration is now open! For more information, check out our Summer Camps schedule at or call us at 703-777-8043.   

Franklin Park Arts Center offers a variety of arts education programs for all ages which provide a way for the community to get involved in the process of creating visual art, theatre and dance and much more. They’ve especially got some fun-looking theatre camps for your little actor or actress. For more info:  

KidzArt offers a summer camp schedule with cool names like 3-D Camp for Middle School, Secret Agent Camp, and Out of this World Camp. Check ’em out at 

Treehouse for Creative Kids. TCK provides fine arts, theater and singing in weekly themed workshops. In addition to themed workshops, each week is filled with fun activities such as water games, fitness, sports, face painting, group & individual games and outdoor activities. Summer Camp Themed Workshops (June 21 to August 27) 

Lisa Zadravec Rodriguez offers various art camps at Claude Moore Rec Center. Art and Fun for a variety of ages and interests 5yrs – teen: 6/21-25 Great Little Artists (6-10 yrs); 6/28-7/2 Amazing Art Magic (7-11ysr); 7/12-16 Big Art World (5-9 yrs); 7/26-30 Art Obsessed @ Twilight (teens); 8/2-6 Mystery Art Detectives (8-12 yrs). All camps held at Claude Moore Rec Ctr. in Sterling. Go to for complete descriptions and registration information or call (703)404-2977. To register call (571)258-3600.  

Loudoun County Public Schools Summer in the Arts Camps. Summer in the Arts (SIA) is an enrichment program sponsored by Loudoun County Public Schools for county youth going into grades 6th – 12th during in the fall of 2010. SIA consists of workshops in the performing, literary, visual and creative arts. Offerings range from beginner/introductory to advanced/intensive workshops. For course descriptions and registration, go to  

Round Hill Arts Center has a full offering too! Classes like “Animal Art in the Dog Days,” Venetian Paper Arts Card Workshop, Introduction to the Pottery Wheel, and Felted Flowers Workshop make me want to sign up! For more information and registrations, go to  

Abrakadoodle Art Camps inspire kids to reach beyond and create art that is unique to them. By doing so, kids feel empowered to be creative and expressive. It’s amazing to see just what kids design when given the freedom to explore and to express themselves creatively! Imaginations soar!

Whew!  Sorry if I missed any…send me a note if you’re offering summer art camps, or better yet, submit them online under CLASSES at



Two Purcellville Arts Instructors Teach Much More Than Art

April 15, 2010

I first met Darcy Swope and Trent Carbaugh at last year’s Loudoun Arts Forum. Darcy, in a colorful outfit, sporting a huge smile and Trent, a grizzly lumberjack of a man, stood out even at an artists’ conference. I soon found out that they were both teachers at their own school, The Birds of a Feather. During introductions, they spoke about a refurbished studio in the country and workshops for people of all ages and abilities. Something about them intrigued me and I wanted to see for myself.

Earlier this spring, I invited myself out to their studio. Just a few minutes outside of Purcellville, I found myself on gravel roads in Loudoun’s lovely countryside. When I turned onto their driveway, I immediately noticed that this was not your average art school. Set on several acres and bordered by a gurgling stream, the location is idyllic.

The Birds of a Feather Art Studio

Darcy came out and offered another big smile and began the tour. Inside, I was greeted by Trent and found myself entranced with the playfully eclectic decor. No white walls here. Trent, a master carpenter, had restored this old structure himself and his whimsical side showed through in interesting places. From the patterned, carpet-tiled ceiling, to the restored wooden floor, it was obviously a labor of love.

Interior - Birds of a Feather Art Studio

When asked about what they teach, it’s quickly understood that while these teachers are interested in traditional arts instruction like color, design and composition, there are other lessons that they strive to convey that are less tangible. According to their website, “Being at the school, there is opportunity to instill tolerance, hope, joy and acceptance and understanding of differences as well as likenesses.”

Trent Carbaugh & Darcy Swope

Trent enjoys sharing his love of history, designing camps around medieval times, pirates and mechanical gadgetry. Carbaugh’s inner child is readily apparent in  his fanciful drawings of monsters, dragons, and superheroes. Swope, once a recipient of the National Art Education Association’s award for “most creative art teacher in the United States” and retired from 31 years as an art teacher loves to use her experience to help everyone think creatively, but absolutely lights up when speaking of her desire to use art to reach people with learning or physical disabilities.

“I love the idea of making the arts accessible to everyone, everywhere, of any age and ability,” Darcy states.

Recently, they worked with over 100 employees at AOL in a creative thinking seminar. Swope and Carbaugh led the employees through team-building exercises, using “art” as a tool to prod employees to think out of the box to create something together utilizing AOL’s core beliefs.

AOL employees creating "art" together that reflects AOL's core values.

At the Carver Center in Purcellville, they are currently teaching art to memory-impaired, vision-impaired and blind senior citizens. This is the kind of work that most warms their hearts and Darcy hopes to expand upon this program and offer it at other locations.

For the youngins’, they’ve also got a summer camp lined up through Loudoun’s Parks & Rec called “Birds of a Feather Art Camp” for ages 6-12.  Offered at their Purcellville studio, the camp offers chances to sculpt, collage and even print on one of the county’s few printing presses. For more information, please call 703-737-8031.

One of my favorite things about my job is having the opportunity to meet my arts community. I thank Darcy and Trent for reminding me that it’s not only about the art…it is just as much, if not more, about the journey.

To learn more about The Birds of a Feather Art School, give them a call or drop them an email:

The Birds of a Feather Art Studio
15671 Ashbury Church Rd.
Purcellville, VA 20132

~ lee