Biography: Claire Nicholls
With two busy toddlers in tow, I couldn’t imagine returning to the corporate world of graphic design, so I swapped my computer mouse for a paintbrush and a corporate boardroom for an atelier. On the advice of friends, I began teaching art classes in my backyard studio in 2005. “I’ve always loved working with kids and have been told I have the patience of a saint,” … “Whenever I hosted playdates, I’d get the kids creating something fabulous. Friends encouraged me to teach art classes, so I went for it, starting with a three-week session of summer camp. I can’t image not working with kids. It’s been wonderful combining two things I’m passionate about: working with kids and creating art.”
I have a background in illustration and fine art and hold a degree in Graphic Design from OCAD University in Toronto. A graphic designer by trade, I have designed logos, identities, collateral, websites and branding for corporate clients including Ironside Technologies, IBM, Scott Paper and Sprint Canada.
My Studio is called PICASSO’S GARAGE and is proud to celebrate 13 years of inspiring creativity. The initial three-week camp session in the summer of 2005 blossomed into a thriving art school comprising three 11-week-long after-school art classes five days a week, plus an additional five-week-long session of summer camp annually. I have a loyal following of students, some of whom have been with me since the beginning. “They are a constant source of inspiration and have challenged me to broaden my own knowledge of art history. I’m so grateful for a job that doesn’t seem like work most of the time.”
To date, I have taught 600 students in 50 sessions covering 300 different artists over the last ten years. Enrollment continues to flourish thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations from my students and their parents. In fact, demand for additional classes prompted an expansion into a larger venue at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works during the summer camp months. Once again, children attending summer camp will be exposed to a variety of artists and techniques, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking. In addition to three-and-a-half hours of hands-on creative expression, children will take advantage of the Brick Works’ tranquil, natural surroundings.
PICASSO’S GARAGE was recently recognized as one of the Best Summer Day Camps in Toronto by SavvyMom.ca, and as the number 3 best place for Kids at Play in Toronto Life’s Top 300 Places to Eat, Shop and Hang Out. For more information, visit PicassosGarage.com.
The experience of running these classes has shown me first hand the positive impact of the creative process for both kids and adults. I have had great success working with several children with ADHD, ADD and Autism resulting in a transfer to a more positive experience for them at school in the classroom.