Queens gives aspiring artists warm welcome

Queens gives aspiring artists warm welcome
Photo by Merle Exit
By Merle Exit

While many say that creativity is inborn, it is quite possible for people to begin cultivating their creative side as adults. Several venues in Queens offer classes in arts and crafts that promise to enhance the talent within, help students learn a new skill or simply encourage them to have fun.

The Paint Place, which recently opened a venue in Astoria, is one of those places. Marci Freede is the owner of the enterprise that first opened in Manhattan. “The Paint Place came into being about two years ago, when myself and some friends went to a class and it just clicked that we could really offer something amazing to people in New York City while we also try to teach them a bit about art history,” Freede said.

On the evening that we went to try the Paint Place out, Central Park was the subject. We were equipped with a “palette” of primary colors plus white and black, brushes of different widths, a jar of water and an apron. Blake was our instructor. A painting is shown so that you can get an idea of what your work should resemble.

The process of painting your picture is taught step by step, with the goal being simply your interpretation, and all in fun. The idea is not to compare your finished product with the original, or whether you have a steady hand or not. In this case I learned how to paint a tree, grass, bushes, buildings, sky, water and shadows. What you ultimately learn is how to use brushes, strokes and colors to achieve a creative goal.

The Paint Place runs classes seven days a week, and is also available for private parties. It is located at 31-21 31st St. Check out its calendar on www.thepaintplaceny.com.

The Potter’s Wheel, located at 120-33 83rd Ave. in Kew Gardens, gives aspiring potters and sculptors a chance to do some hands-on learning. Grace Anker is the owner, as well as one of the teachers, there.

As a first timer at The Potter’s Wheel, I chose to create a medium-size serving dish. The clay was rolled out and I was given various stamps and rollers with indentations to decorate the inside. There is no end result to copy. Once the piece is completed, a push plate is placed on the clay for tracing. It is then pushed down into a piece of foam that forces the sides to rise, creating the depth. The finishing touches are added when your pottery is fired and “colored” via heat and chemicals.

A hand-building or wheel-throwing 1-hour class for one to four people is available at a cost of $50 per person including the materials. Go to www.potterywheelny.com for more information.

“From glass fusing to painting your own pottery” is how Oliloli Studio (www.olilolistudio.com) describes the arts and crafts at their community space at 103-23 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills. This venue has an open studio, where you can simply drop in and paint a ready-made ceramic that has not been colored or fired up.

I chose one of a fairy queen on a moon. Given colored discs, I chose the color of the paints that would result from the piece being fired up and glazed. An example of a finished product is given if you want. It’s all about imagination with no teacher and doesn’t have to come out perfect. Great for relaxing.

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