Luzette Crossan has one term of children’s art lessons under her belt, and is loving it.
Possibly best-known in Oamaru for her face-painting business Pop Face Art, Crossan is also an accomplished oil painter and loves being upstairs in the Harbour Street Collective Cafe and part of its supportive community.
“Any sort of foot traffic that you get, I reckon is good,” she said. “People get to know what’s up here, and the more they come up here, and the more things there are here that can pique their interest, the better for all of us.
“There’s been so many people come up here for the plants, because they’re into plants, and they go realise there’s an art studio up here’, and then they start talking to me about what I do, and then before you know it, you drum up a few more customers, so yeah, it’s been awesome.”
She also enjoyed having fellow artist and retired teacher Phil Macgregor in the same space, describing the relationship as “kind of symbiotic”.
“It’s been a great space to be a part of, because, I mean, obviously the kids come in here and we do fun stuff, but they watch Phil here working too.
“They’re asking the questions about what he’s doing, and why’s he doing that, and we talk about other stuff .. which has been kind of nice.”
Crossan had the idea of running art classes after being invited into schools to share her skills and finding art education was lacking.
“I would just go in and give them a wee lesson, and I realised that, I would say about every time I went, about 80% of the class didn’t know basic art things, like primary colours and what happens when you mix primary colours, and you know . just really basic things.
“I started talking to the teachers about it and the teachers told me that stuff is not actually written into the curriculum any more, and if you don’t have a particular passionate teacher in that field, your child is missing out on it.
“It kind of sparked a fire in my heart, because I realised my entire life has always been about art, in one shape or form, and I’ve always been able to make an income off that, so the curriculum saying that that’s not important enough to teach our children was just not good enough for me.”
So Crossan curated her own curriculum, and decided to offer an after-school programme during term time.
It seemed to be going well, and she enjoyed watching the young artists develop.
“Everybody uses the same recipe to do something, but everybody comes up with a different thing. And you have these little wee bloomers, they just come out, and you’re like on with this’.
“So that’s so rewarding to get that out of children, and to be able to give them a safe space, where they’re not judged, their passions and interests aren’t squashed, and they can just kind of let loose and be free, and experiment with things that they probably don’t get to.
She also offered a school holiday programme which was less structured and fully booked.
“The holiday class has been a massive success. We’ve got 20-plus for each day .. A one-off art class is a lot more do-able than a massive commitment of eight weeks,” she said.
As for her own art, finding the time was tricky, between taking classes and raising her own three children.
“I think it’s probably my own fault that I haven’t been able to, you know, create those boundaries to make space for my own art, but yeah, I have started.
“And it actually has been really good to be able to paint alongside the kids, and go this is what I do. I don’t use black, look at my paint palette, you know, and for them to sort of learn from that as well.”
Crossan said she loved working with children.
“They’re not judgemental, they just take you for what you are. I love that.”