Shula Klinger (photo by Shahar Ben Halevi)
When artist and mother Shula Klinger was searching for ways to inspire her own two boys, she learned how important it is to let a child find their own creative path. She has translated this lesson – and her artistic expertise – into a new in-home class for young children.
“I provide the space and the stimulations but I let each child discover what triggers him to create art,” said the illustrator and writer. “I follow a simple principle that art is everywhere, we don’t have to use our mind to find it, we don’t have to work our brain to call inspiration, we just need to open up our eyes and let our senses lead us.
“We are all different but we still use the same methods to express ourselves,” she continued. “I invite the child into my house, into my very own working space, where he can find his very own creative space. I let the child lead the process, I don’t follow common doctrines of art educators who show children a painting and ask them to paint the same way. I teach them to think about the process and not about the product.”
Klinger moved to Vancouver from England in 1997 to do her PhD in education at the University of British Columbia. She met her husband Graham Harrington in Kitsilano and the couple moved to North Vancouver, where they are raising their two young boys, Benjamin, 8, and Joel, 4.
Klinger has published a young adult’s novel, The Kingdom of Strange (2008) and illustrated a graphic novel, Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook (2010), with author Beverly Patt. At the moment, her focus is on the in-home classes, as well as the launch of a video series called Art is Everywhere, co-created and co-hosted with Andrea Benton of Raising Boys TV.
“We want to provide an alternative to the art children have been learning in commercial art schools,” said Klinger. “We want to let them explore, search, discover, play, experiment and learn – mostly learn the how and why of creating their very own art. This is why we are all here. Ever since the caveman left his handprint on the walls of his habitat, we are all looking for ways to leave our mark, sound our voice, tell our story. We just need the freedom to find our own path. That’s what I try to teach.”
Shahar Ben Halevi is a writer and filmmaker living in Vancouver.