The Painting Workshop at TNCS: Kids Paint the Town!

Summer sessions at The New Century School continue with an exciting block of camps hosted by The Painting Workshop! The first week of this summer-long workshop was called “The Art of Charm City.” Artist-campers explored questions like, “What is a neighborhood? A town? Baltimore? They got better acquainted with Baltimore symbols such as the Domino Sugar sign and Chesapeake Bay crabs through painting, drawing, crafts, and sculpture. They also celebrated our local artists—from Paul Darmafall (a.k.a., the Baltimore Glass Man) to Grace Hartigan. (Scroll below for upcoming themes and to register.)

Charming Art

Baltimore! Inspired by the Inner Harbor

Baltimore! Inspired by the Inner Harbor

Led by two camp instructors from The Painting Workshop, Rachel Stein and Elisabeth Willis, kids made paintings inspired by all things Baltimore—the harbor, rowhouses, local food, etc. Each day they worked on one painting as well as had lots of free-drawing time and afternoon crafts. Their culminating project for the week was self-portraits . . . on actual canvas!

Rachel Stein, from The Painting Workshop

Rachel Stein, from The Painting Workshop

“Their self-portraits look great,” said Ms. Stein “It’s so exciting to see them pick up the techniques so easily.” Instructors demonstrated how to make eyes, noses, and lips and how to manage proportions. “But overall we let them do it how they want,” said Ms. Stein. This space to express themselves is part of Ms. Stein’s philosophy of instruction. An undergrad at Towson University, she studies art and psychology. “I like watching them expressing themselves, getting out what happened that day, their emotions. That’s how I see it—as a way to arrive at camp and not worry about anything else except just making art.”

The artist-campers really got the message. They experimented with colors, patterns, and actual brush techniques to their hearts’ content. They also “expressed” themselves in other ways—a table of several girls quietly sang “Let It Go” as they worked on their self-portraits (perhaps more than one envisioning herself triumphing over obstacles just like the beleaguered Princess Elsa). Meanwhile a table of boys sang “We Will Rock You” and did an admirable job of keeping even the drumbeats hushed so as not to disturb anyone else.

Despite all the “self-expression,” going on, the atmosphere was calm and productive. Spills were handled without fuss, and the kids were always reminded to keep working until they finished. “I want to work with kids and art in the future. I’m thinking about becoming a teacher,” said Ms. Stein. She has been with The Painting Workshop for 3 years.

Elisabeth Willis, from The Painting Workshop

Elisabeth Willis, from The Painting Workshop

Ms. Willis brings an impressive amount of experience to her role as well. She has both a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Art History and a Masters in Art and Teaching from Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA). She freelanced after graduating in 2011 to spend time on her art but would like to become a high school art teacher or work in the education department of a museum. She has been with The Painting Workshop for the last 3 months.

Typical Day

The day starts out with free draw (and each child got a folder to collect their drawings to bring home at week’s end). About midmorning when everyone has gotten the wiggles (and the squiggles) out, they move on to the main project of the day. For the self-portrait day, Ms. Stein and Ms. Willis gave step-by-step instructions involving sketching out the face with a pencil and then going back over it with a Sharpie to make the lines clear. After that, each child got a mixing plate with blobs of primary colors and went to work.

Hard at work, painting away

Hard at work, painting away

While the artists work, instructors move through the classroom, responding to questions and comments. “What do yellow and orange make? What about blue and pink and white?” asked one boy. “How about you and try it out?” replied Ms. Stein, encouragingly. “I know three ways to make purple!” he came back with. “Red into blue . . . blue into—well, actually I only know how to do it two ways—pink.”

“I figured out the category,” said another student, excitedly! “It’s all about Baltimore—the crabs, the harbor, everything!” “That’s right; you figured out the puzzle; you added it all up,” replied Ms. Stein. “Can I make my skin whatever color I want? Like brown?” “Of course!”

A finished portrait

A finished portrait

Once they finished their portraits, they were free to draw or read books until lunch. “At TNCS they get to leave the classroom to eat somewhere else, and they get to play on the playground. I like that,” said Ms. Stein, who is normally at the Mt. Washington Painting Workshop location. “It’s really fun [at TNCS]!” she said. “The kids here are really intelligent and have great vocabularies. One boy was painting an animal and told me ‘this animal is aggressive toward these other animals’, for example.”

Crabs in their habitat

Crabs in their habitat

For their afternoon activity, the artist-campers were going to make habitats for the crabs they had sculpted earlier in the week. Those are some lucky crabs!


“Creativity! Art Around the World Camp” begins 7/14 and continues through 7/18. Artist-campers will create their own passports and focus on the indigenous art of each country they visit, such as aboriginal paintings in Australia, pottery in Greece, rice paper and pagoda prints in Japan, craft papier-mâché maracas in Spain, and beautiful landscape paintings in France.

7/21–7/25: Penguins, Whales, and Surf: Oceans and Seas Camp

Water covers more than two-thirds of our planet. Within it, we find amphibious life of all description, and fauna and flora that exist only in the mysterious world of the sea. This camp celebrates the waters of planet Earth–through painting, drawings, sculpture, and of course the use of water in art projects! The geology of the ocean, the uses of the ocean, the wonder of the sea–it’s a watery week of imaginative fun!

7/28–8/1: Birds, Butterflies, Wind, and Sky: Art and Nature Camp

The outside world comes alive in this camp where we are inspired by nature. From leaf rubbings and clay pressings, to plein-air painting, and sponge paintings of trees, we celebrate nature through our art!

8/4–8/8: Dragons and Wild Things Camp

Who doesn’t love dragons? We will look to the art of Asia for inspiration, as well as Dragons in medieval times, and then closer to home with Maurice Sendak and his book, Where the Wild Things Are. Projects will include sculpture, puppets, jewelry, paintings, and more.

8/11–8/15: Hear the Sounds of Art! Art and Music Camp

Can you listen to the sounds of art? What is the overlap between the artistic expressions of music and visual art? Let’s find out in this multi-faceted camp experience.

We will create our own instruments, explore how sound and music affects our art, and have fun!

Would you like to register your child(ren)? Please go here.

2 thoughts on “The Painting Workshop at TNCS: Kids Paint the Town!

  1. Pingback: Immersed | TNCS Summer Camp Heats Up Under New Directorship

  2. Pingback: Meet the Art Teacher: A Portrait of Elisabeth Willis | Immersed

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