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Art and Children: 5 Minutes with Angela Darling Faidley

Angela Darling Faidley is a radiant woman – her crystal clear eyes are bright, with her smile releasing a beneficial energy. We didn’t get the chance to meet her in person due to confinement but this feeling was palpable. Having exchanged messages with Angela, it was easy to sense that this Pennsylvanian woman was a force of nature.

During quarantine, as schools remained closed, Angela decided to share her love of art to children all over the world.  She started uploading on her YouTube channel, Out of Our Minds Art Studio, some art lessons for students at home. These videos included an array of topics, including how to draw a train, an Easter bunny, a fox, and even Winnie the Pooh. Simple subjects that evoke moments of escape and entertainment for children to wander into a dimension far from isolation.

Tell us a little bit about who you are and your path in the art world?

I always had a love of art since I was a small child but did not turn it into a career until the ripe old age of 42. At that time, I was hired by a small parochial school to teach art. I remained an art teacher for them for thirteen years. In that time frame parents had asked if I could teach their children art after school, and just like that, Out of Our Minds Art Studio was born in the basement of my home.

Within a few years I rented a small 600 square foot room to test the waters of a studio as I juggled both jobs. Soon the studio flourished so I decided to jump into a studio full-time. With my husband’s support I left my teaching job and ‘Out of Our Minds Art Studio’ became my life. Within nine months I outgrew the space and we purchased an old church that would not only house the studio, but also become our home.

How did you come up with this idea?

When we were given the ‘Stay at Home’ orders I had to close the doors of my studio for the safety of my customers. The hardest part was contacting all the children that were scheduled to celebrate their birthday at the studio. Adults understand the crisis and why their classes were canceled but children only knew that they were no longer going to celebrate their big day with their friends. It did not take me long to come up with the idea to do free drawing classes for children online – I thought: “If the children can not come to me, I will go to them.”

I wanted to keep the drawings simple so anyone could join in the fun, also making sure the supplies were simple so that almost everyone would have them at home. I not only have children drawing with me every day, but adults that swore “they could not even draw a stick”, only to come back to me to say that they can now draw much more than a stick!

What do you think the kids miss the most right now?

I think the children miss the interaction between each other. When holding my children’s art classes I do not place an age limit on the group. I teach children as young as four and as old as 13. It is always wonderful to see how the different ages interact with each other. They help one another, give tips, and build friendships – all through art. It is an amazing thing to watch.

How do you think art can help the little ones during confinement?

I have received many emails and letters from parents all over the world, telling me how their child waits everyday for the videos to be posted. The parents are thankful for the diversion, the creativity, and for keeping their child happy and not so worried about the outside world. I wanted to keep these art lessons light and fun for this reason too. The crazy lighthearted costumes are a way to make the children smile, look forward to what I will be tomorrow, and to take away the worry and fright.

What role do you think art can play in these times?

Art is playing a huge role in this time of confinement and uncertainty, not only in children, but also in adults. It is a way to express ourselves, to release tension, and to remove ourselves from the troubles of the world. You see this not only in visual arts, but music, dance, and theater.

What are the children’s reactions? Do you have any stories you’d like to share?

The children are loving these art lessons. They send me requests of what they would like to draw, but the very best part is when they send me a photo of them holding their drawing. They are so proud of what they have accomplished and their smiles melt my heart.

I received a letter from one parent that said her daughter is very shy and will not show anyone what she draws. She said her daughter does not think she is very good. However, she went on to tell me that after my drawing lessons she wanted her mom to send me the photos! She said that Miss Angela told her, “You are an artist and you draw it your way. There are no rights and wrongs in art.” Who would think that those two simple sentences would change the way a small child feels about herself and what she creates!

What are your inspirations in the art world?

I am inspired by the world and people around me. I have many friends that are artists and their work makes me catch my breath with its beauty. But I also see beauty in my youngest of students to my senior citizens. So, you see, art does only come from the Masters or the art world, it can come from the people around you – from the youngest to the oldest. The simplicity of the love that they create on canvas is my inspiration.

Do you have any artistic reference points in the contemporary scene?

You would think this is where I would list a famous artist like Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, along with Van Gogh – and of course they are by far my favorite famous inspirations – but my inspiration comes from closer to home. My grandfather Archibald Darling, whom I never had the honor to meet, was an amazing painter. A large painting of a deer hung in my grandmother’s house that I would stand in awe over. The details that my grandfather captured were breathtaking. My brother Dennis Darling, photographer and professor at the University of Texas, is also one of my great inspirations in the art world. His black and white photos invoke thought, depth, another side of life that many of us will never get to see, but only through the lens of his camera.

Be inspired…