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Brushing up at Solon’s Corridor Arts

SOLON– Corridor Arts opened a Main Street studio in mid-October last year, and interest in art classes and painting lessons is growing.
Offering watercolor, acrylic and drawing lessons for children and adults, the studio is run by Susan Kennicott and Lianne Westcot as a space to practice art. Their lessons and classes are a great way for artists at all levels to set aside time and create with color, line, shape and the other components of two-dimensional aesthetics.
Westcot works as a graphic designer and teaches drawing and watercolors. Kennicott is an acrylic painter with years of experience. But both artists agree that students needn’t plan on becoming the next version of their teachers.
The pair helps students find their own way by encouraging exploration of new techniques and media.
“Art can be challenging,” Kennicott admitted. “A lot of people get to a hard part of a painting, don’t know how to get past that hurdle and quit.”
She helps guide artists past the challenge of a blank canvas to the final touch of a brush stroke that completes their works.
Getting them through the initial splash and spatter stages can be daunting but, “there is no wrong art. The only mistake in art is not trying,” Kennicott explained.
Corridor Arts has small classes to keep the focus on the student but also offers group events called “Coffee and Canvas” or “Bordeaux and Brushes” for families and friends who want to create in a communal setting.
For young artists, after-school lessons have kids visiting for weekly painting or drawing sessions with Kennicott and Westcot.
Kennicott began teaching a few years ago when the late Hal Hart opened a gallery in Shueyville. Gallery visitors were asking for lessons for themselves or family members. When Hart died and the building was sold, Kennicott moved to Ely until that building was also sold.
With Westcot’s help, she set up Corridor Arts in Solon in the former Solon Laundromat.
Their small studio is adjoined by the Solon Barber Shop where both artists display work that can be viewed during classes, by appointment, or through the barber shop.
Corridor Arts lessons are often given as holiday and birthday gifts. The no-obligation art school offers one-at-a-time lessons, or budding artists can buy a punch card with a month or two of pre-paid lessons.
In an initial session, Corridor artist-teachers bring materials that students can try out informally to get a feel for holding a brush and pushing pigment.
Later they might bring photographs from which to work, from family portraits to the family pet to other designs and images they want to depict. Kennicott likes to stress that it’s important to create from the heart but she doesn’t push a style or specific painting mode.
Both teachers feel it’s important to help students navigate the process of buying art supplies. Students begin classes by trying out provided materials, and then the instructors help build a list of supplies. The list is centered on student interest, budget, and a quality experience.
Kennicott’s students have been accepted into the Iowa State Fair and Kennicott herself is widely exhibited. She’s just received word of an exhibit at the Quad City International Airport Gallery where she’ll show 15 large works in early 2014. You can see some samples of her work at: www.susankennicott.artspan.com.
For Westcot, a member of the Solon school board, the classes have taken her back to her college days when, as a graphic design student at Iowa State, she studied painting, art history and other arts in parallel with her design classes.
Last summer she felt she’d come full circle when one of her paintings was accepted into the Iowa State Fair. In her senior year of college, two drawings were shown at the Des Moines fair’s fine art exhibit, one earning a merit award.
Westcot has a series of paintings on display at Cedar Ridge Vineyards outside Swisher until February.
She said Corridor Arts is looking for more teachers who can offer instruction and guidance in other media, including photography, pastels, glasswork and jewelry-making.
“People are excited about the new space,” she said, adding how great it is to see “kids walking over after school for lessons.”
The studio is located at 128 E. Main St.
Why take an art class?
For Westcot, family and other obligations can eat up spare time. She said scheduling an art lesson can motivate people to carve out a dedicated period of drawing and painting that they wouldn’t ordinarily devote to art, as family activities, chores and television eat up spare time.
Classes are ongoing and flexible. Interested students can find out more at the Corridor Arts website: www.corrarts.blogspot.com.