picasso's garage art therapy studio

Davisville Village, Toronto, Est. 2005

providing art therapy since 2017

claire nicholls, DTATI, RP (Quality)

Professional Art Therapist

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

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Biography:

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 imagine 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 17 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 summer camp session annually (2014-2018). I have a loyal following of students, many of whom returned year after year. "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."

Over 600 students attended the art programs over the years. These students explored over 300 different artists. Enrollment continues to flourish thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations from my students and their parents. Demand for additional classes prompted an expansion into a larger venue at Toronto's Evergreen Brick Works during the summer camp months (2014-2018). Once again, children attending summer camp worked on creative projects inspired by 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.

In 2017 Picasso's Garage expanded its services to include art-based Psychotherapy. Due to the 2020 Pandemic restrictions making it difficult to accommodate multiple students in a small space, I have shifted my studio practice away from group art lessons to focus exclusively on providing Individual Art Therapy.

As an Art Therapist, I work primarily with children. Specific areas of focus include; anxiety, self-regulation, social and behavioural issues, and children of divorce. I practice Art therapy using a Humanistic-based approach with a foundational belief that clients are their own best experts and given a nurturing, supportive environment encourages them to discover their inner strengths. In addition, I provide skill-building as a psychoeducational component with a focus on improving social, emotional and behavioural issues to strengthen resiliency. I also believe that being creative (not necessarily just artistic) is an integral part of a prevention model to improve children's mental health and actively promote creative expression in my studio and community.

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Picasso's Garage Art Studio was recognized as the #3 best place for "Kids at Play" in Toronto Life's Top 300 "the City's Best" (2014). In 2016 Picasso's Garage Art Camp ranked Top 5 "Things for Kids to Do this Summer" in Toronto Life Magazine and as Top 10 "Best Summer Day Camps in Toronto" by SavvyMom.ca. >>more in the news