I used to think my son James was not particularly arty. He rarely brought pictures home from nursery and, when he did, figuring out what he’d drawn or painted was akin to a rather tricky Rorschach test. But four-year-olds never fail to surprise, and lately he has upped his game. Now he enthusiastically sketches sharks with gills, monsters with eyelashes, and meteorites plummeting towards to the earth. I’ve been so impressed that I wanted to both encourage and reward his creative efforts, and decided that it was time to get messy with a proper painting session.
Located in Scone since 2008, For Art Sake is a ceramic studio where both adults and children are welcome to come along and paint. Owner Pauline Smith wants to inspire and assist painters of all ages and abilities; you can benefit from her advice and ideas at a group workshop, or simply pop in.
James, my mum and I visited the studio on a dreich autumn day well suited to indoor activities. We drove from Perth to Scone, but a bus from the city centre would also get you there in no time. Despite the rain, the premises were light and cheery – a huge window runs along the length of the room – and Pauline soon had James all kitted out in his artist's pinny and eager to begin.
First, James had to choose a ‘bisque’ (a piece of unglazed pottery) to decorate. There was a wide range of bisque shapes, from little cars, dinosaurs, frogs and fishes, to vases, plates and several festive options. Prices vary, and some items can be personalized with your child’s hand or footprint. I thought James might like a cute wee lion to adorn our mantelpiece but, like every other child his age, James knows his own mind … and he picked a Day of the Dead sugar skull!
Kids can take their work of art home with them on the same dayPauline recommends that children use acrylic paint – it dries very quickly which means kids can take their work of art home with them on the same day. She explained that with non-acrylic paint the pieces are glazed and fired in her kiln for several hours and can be collected within a couple of days.
James deliberated over his colours before opting to cover his pottery skull in silver, using several other hues to pick out the detail. The bisques range from quite simple designs to those with very elaborate patterns. The skull that James liked would also have suited an older child or adult who wanted to spend a bit more time on the finer details. James used a small paintbrush most of the time, but also found cotton wool buds an easy way to daub on the paint.
I asked Pauline how she got started in this line of work, and she surprised me by saying that she was originally an insurance broker. She started painting at an evening class and enjoyed her hobby so much she eventually turned ceramic painting and teaching into her full-time occupation. Personally, I am always in awe of someone who follows their dream and makes it their life’s work, and it’s easy to see that For Art Sake is a labour of love for Pauline.
The studio offers group bookings for adults, which could be anything from a corporate team event where colleagues can spend time together in a relaxed and creative environment, to a BYOB hen party. There are also adult workshops on a Sunday afternoon where participants can unwind with a cuppa and a natter while they work on a chosen item. For children, For Art Sake will host private parties (bring along food, drink and birthday cake!) and also runs kids' club workshops – just drop the kids off for two hours of educational fun.
After a fairly extended period of concentration from James, and some welcome peace and quiet for Granny and me, our young artist declared that he was finished. His spooky, and slightly psychedelic, sugar skull was given a sparkly coating and was dry and ready to take home straight away. I’m not sure that my mantelpiece has a place for quite such an eerie ornament, but James was dead chuffed with his creation! I appreciated the gentle direction with which Pauline had guided his endeavours, as well as the warm and unhurried vibe of the studio.
For Art Sake is open seven days a week throughout November and December, and provides a perfect opportunity to create bespoke Christmas gifts for friends and family. Find out more details about For Art Sake in our directory.
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