Extra-Curricular Activities: The Value of Art Classes

After hearing about The Studio @ KL through a friend and seeing the kind of paintings her daughter has been painting, I was inspired to give Gavin a go… Gavin, too, has been pestering me to set up his trial class.

The Studio@KL


The Studio@KL has moved. It is still located in Publika (Solaris Dutamas) but on a different level:

D1 – G4 – 09 , Solaris Dutamas
No 1 , Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel : 03 6211 3840
Email : info@thestudioatkl.com

When I first called, Jennifer, the owner, told me they didn’t do trial classes but she suggested I bring Gavin around to take a look and see if he would be interested to try painting. I thought it would be a great idea because I figured that once he was surrounded by paintings, he would be keen to paint. Unfortunately, being around professional art work had the opposite effect on Gavin.

When we arrived, there was a class in progress. The children painting were not that much older than Gavin. They were painting scenes with animals on canvas (yup, they use real canvas – not art blocks!) under the guidance of Jennifer and her assistant Faizal (not sure if that is how you spell his name). I asked Gavin if he wanted to take classes and he said, “No.” I was stunned to silence. Gavin who had been pestering me all week to bring him here was suddenly cool and loof. I took him aside to talk to him and asked what caused his sudden change of heart about painting and he replied, “I can’t paint like that.” He felt intimidated by all the professional paintings and even the work that was being done by the other children.

It is a problem I have begun to notice in Gavin which has been bugging me a lot lately. Whenever he faces anything difficult, he balks rather than rises to the challenge. He will insist it is too hard and he won’t even want to try. And yes, I have been thinking a lot about the kind of praise he has been hearing and clearly whatever I have been doing is either not enough to overcome the damage or there is something else in the mix. And then I think about what Sir Ken Robinson said about schools killing our children’s drive to learn and I worry about Gavin who is only 4 years old and already beginning to show a disinterest in learning.

What is the problem? Has Gavin had it too easy? Is he so used to being good at doing things that the moment he feels he isn’t “the best” at an activity, he isn’t interested to do it? Because he clearly enjoys painting. It was only after he saw how those children were painting that he felt his paintings were inadequate and he no longer wanted to paint.

After some encouragement, Jennifer managed to coax Gavin to paint a picture at The Studio. He finally agreed to paint a rainbow and this was the end result:

The Benefits of Art

Here’s why I think art is beneficial for the development of a child like Gavin… There is no right or wrong in art, just a different perspective. If schools are killing our children’s creativity, then surely art will help to restore it. Part of being creative is to think of things not as they are but as they could be – how else did Edison invent the light bulb if he couldn’t envisage something that could be? In art, you can have pink skies and blue grass and it wouldn’t be “wrong”. Art classes help to break down the rigidity in our thinking that there can only be black and white. Because who is to say that what we know to be “fact” truly is “fact”? Science uncovers new findings all the time that challenge the very fiber of our beliefs. If we get locked into thinking that the way things are is the only way it can be then who will ever make these discoveries?

See more: The Benefits of Art

So Gavin has agreed to come back and paint again. In his next class, he will get to use a canvas and he will be painting dinosaurs. Let’s see how that goes. At the very least, we’ll have some nice artwork to put up in our new pad…

In the mean time, if you are interested in learning how to paint at The Studio, here are the details:

Telephone: +6012 321 0828
Website: www.thestudioatkl.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002366002277

What they offer:

  • art classes for all age groups, from 4 years old onwards
  • Art Jamming – it is a 4 hour gathering where you can paint and mingle with other artists at the same time (something I would love to do if someone would watch the kids for me…)
  • Corporate Team Building
  • Art Exhibitions For Artists
  • Painting Parties For Kids – which you can use as your child’s next birthday party theme…

Art class fees for children (at the time of writing this post):

  • Registration – RM50 (lifetime)
  • Monthly – RM300 (4 classes)

What I liked about The Studio:

  • The children are taught to be responsible for their own paintings and the tools – they get out the paints on their own, they get their own washing water, they pack up after themselves, and they learn how to handle the art equipment with respect so they don’t wreck the brushes or make a mess.
  • The abstract artwork and other professional paintings that show you don’t necessarily have to paint everything the way we see it in the world.
  • That they use canvas to paint on.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

10 thoughts on “Extra-Curricular Activities: The Value of Art Classes

  1. Hi Shen Li, just wanted to say that it was very insightful of you to probe about the reasons why Gavin didn’t want to sign up on the class. Your boys are blessed with a mom with high EQ.

    And my, what responsibilities parents have, to make choices for kids. Everything may be good, but not everything is beneficial.

    Again, can I also ask if you are familiar with whether such extra curricular classes are popular in Australia, and what sort of institutions would run them?



    1. Hi Denise,

      I am sure there are plenty of extra-curricular classes in Australia. You probably have a greater choice in terms of physical activities with Australians being very pro-sports. As to which institutions, you should be able to find listings easily with a search on google. Most businesses are on the net these days. You should also try talking to other parents in your neighbourhood. Also try your local community center – they would definitely be more helpful than the ones over here. In fact, I remember the local community centers sometimes run their own programs with little to no cost.


  2. Oh, he has done it really well, I am suspicious Venus can do that bc I am rather lax with her in this area, even though art was one of my best subject in school back then…thank you for detailed insight, will definitely list this art class in my radar, I just need to let child to learn art’s basic skill from someone more professional in this area. Thank you.


    1. FZ – there are so many things we can teach our children that it is easy to be lax in some areas. I, too, never really focussed on art. I just let Gavin splash paint around and called it an art session. I never really taught him about how to paint or draw (not that I am any good at it myself).


  3. Hi Shen, Recently I enrolled Ben in a nearby art class as well. When I enrol, the teacher asked me to wait for one month as she wanted to form a new group. The reason being is that if Ben joins a group who has been doing art for a few months already, he may feel that he is not as good as the others and then will not even try. So I think you do not need to worry about Gavin and maybe try to find a “newer” group?


    1. Hi Irene – the good thing about The Studio is that Jennifer told me since it is school holidays, it is much quieter and Gavin would be able to experience art classes with much smaller groups so it is less intimidating. The teacher has agreed to let Gavin’s first session be one-on-one so he can build up his confidence.


  4. Hi Shenli,

    Gavin can draw and he can draw pretty well to his age judging from bright colors, way of displaying rainbow image, BIRDS and the cloud, I merely speak from my experience and follow my instinct looking at pictures. I was good in art and started to draw at P2, no one taught me and every teacher would notice my talent back then and I was always chosen to represent schools without failed.

    Drawing is a strange activity, we just dont want anyone to tell us what to do because we know we arent accept anything under ” instruction”, we already have ideas of how we should present our picture and all the images just get into our mind like an opened floodgate, we only need someone there to supervise n making sure our pictures are completely filled up with colors. Perhaps that explains why back then I couldn’t accept uniform, couldnt accept rules including computer rules when it came to existence as it would made me puke and lost interest immediately the moment I knew I had to follow instruction by computer. That’s why I could never be good with computer.

    That’s also why I never teach V art and coloring, it is something that either you know or you don’t… I close my eyes every time I see her colors…”no eye see”.


    1. Hi Fz – thank you. I think having art class will help him express himself better with his drawings and it will encourage development of his creative side. In some ways it also helps to develop right brain imaging ability because you have to see the picture in your mind that you want to paint (at least if you aren’t copying from a picture). I have generally adopted a fairly relaxed attitude towards his colouring as well. If he colours out of the line, I let him. If he wants the picture all blue, I let him. I never tell him it can’t be like this or like this because I feel this is one of the few areas of expression that he can decide how it should be – no right or wrong – and I want to encourage that. Even when I tell him he is not allowed to do something, I have always said to him that if he can give me a good reason why I should let him, I will. I want to encourage him to come up with ideas and I am happy for him to show me I’m wrong.

      Adults always make young children think they are right all the time, but we aren’t. We are humans and we make mistakes, too. I want Gavin to see that so he knows that he should challenge if he knows something is amiss. I don’t want him following blindly when he knows it isn’t right just because an adult says, “xyz”.


  5. Hi Shen Li,

    Thanks for the suggestion on the community centres!! Will definitely look out on the activities there as well!!


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