What's the best road to take if you want to teach children sensitivity and creativity?
Well, if you ask Mary C. Woodward, artistic expression provides a good pathway to walk.
As founder of the Creative People Visual Arts Workshop in Bel Air, the 73-year-old artist and teacher has focused on developing and tapping the creativity of children.
"They're exciting human beings who are so creative at thatyoung age," said Woodward in her New England-bred accent, which still comes through strong despite living in Harford for the past 30 years. "Nothing has harmed them yet," she said. "They don't doubt themselves like adults."
FOR THE RECORD - An article in Sunday's edition of The Harford County Sun about Creative People Inc., "Children color art instructor's life," contained an incorrect spelling of a child's name.
The correct spelling is Kaitlin Dorer.
Because children are less inhibited than adults,they often are more adventurous in their artistic works, said Woodward.
Exploring expression through art has been the focus of Woodward's life. In addition to teaching art, she is a painter, working in impressionistic and abstract media. Her introduction to artistic expression came while growing up in Massachusetts.
Woodward said she became an art teacher instead of a full-time artist because it would have been difficult to earn a living strictly by selling her paintings.
She taught art in Massachusetts and Rhode Island before moving toHarford with her husband, Arthur.
She has operated several art schools in Bel Air. Thirteen years ago she opened Creative People Workshop at 16 N. Main St. Five years ago, she turned the school into a non-profit organization.
"It's much nicer this way," Woodward said. "Everything goes into the children and the salaries. I just get a salary now like everybody else."
There are six teachers on staff -- Tracy J. Lyon, Robert C. Lynch, Anne McCarty, Chong Ja Rhee, Tamara L.Stickler and Carol A. Wolosik.
The school offers classes to youths aged five to 18, and has some classes for adults.
Tuition is $10for a 72-minute session and there is a $20 annual fee for supplies.
Wolosik, a Whiteford resident, says Woodward has an acumen for relating well to children that draws out their creativity.
"She is very dedicated to children and helping young people," she said.
To Woodward, developing artistic skill in drawing, painting, sculpture orother mediums, helps children form a strong self image and become sensitive to the nuances of people and their surroundings.
"Art is something that comes truely from within themselves," said Woodward. "Even though you may never be a Rembrandt, you will be more creative."
During the workshops, children work on independent projects at various tables. The workshop room is decorated with the creations of current and former students.
Justin P. Sheridan, 10, of Bel Air, is among the children currently enrolled in art workshops at Creative People. He's been designing a clay monster based on depictions of monsters he's seen in movies and books.
It took Justin a few hours to form the clay mold of a monster's head, complete with scars and fangs.
"I'm going to let it dry and then I'm going to paint it," he said."Then I guess I'm going to give it to my mom and she can use it as adecoration."
Justin has been attending Creative People for two years. He enjoys the classes because of the independence he has to create. "They don't tell you what you have to do," he said. "They let youdo what you want to do. And I like art. I'm good at it."
Kate Durer, 7, of Abingdon, is a two-year veteran of Creative People.
"I want to be an art teacher because I like art and I like school," she said.
Sitting in front of an easel that is adjacent to a pot of flowers, Kate was focusing on painting the flowers as realistically as possible, but plans to alter the pot. "It's my idea," she said. "I came up with it."
Students are allowed to create what they please anduse whatever art form they choose. However, if they spend too much time in a particular art medium, they are encouraged to try something else. But, while Woodward believes in encouragement and praise, she doesn't grade or award prizes for art work.
Explained Woodward, "I don't like judging, especially children's art. The world is competitive enough."