GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — In 2016, Christine Anne Fiala opened an art studio located at Alte Amberger Strasse 2, 92655 Grafenwoehr. The studio is a continuing pursuit of her life-long dream, which she began with her first class of four students in 2014.
Creative Art Fundamentals, LLC offers a variety of formal art education lessons and art-making classes in the technique disciplines of: drawing, painting, printmaking, modeling, assembling, textiling and imaging. Each class varies in price, although she strives to keep the prices low, so that parents feel comfortable to come back often.
Some lessons are monthly, some meet weekly, for a month or six-week semester, and others last longer, for special workshops. Depending on the lesson, the classes can last anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours. They all have a cap of eight students per class session.
Fiala holds her master’s degree in Communication Arts, with distinction, and Bachelors of Fine Arts, summa cum laude, from the New York Institution of Technology.
I had the honor to meet with Fiala. Here is what she had to share.
My studio is a fulfilment of my dream. From the fourth grade, I wanted to be an art teacher. And in fact, my parents are very big on academics. That is how it was in Jamaica where they came from, so in order for me to do art, I had to have stellar academics. When I graduated high school I was 17, I kind of did a detour and enlisted in the military and that pathway kept me for 35 years. But I always wanted to do art. So, when I retired, I came back to my art. And this studio is sort of God sent, a blessing that came. So now, I live my passion, my part time job, my full-time job, and my retirement job. And it’s not really a job, it’s like… some people wake up in the morning and breathe. I wake up in the morning and I think art, and I think my studio.
It is a small building so the classes are intimate. Eight students per class, so there is a lot of individual attention. You come to the studio, it’s sunny and light. The first area is more like a gallery. We show student work and the studies that we do. You come in further, there is the adult classroom that is set up a little quieter than the children’s classroom. And then when you come down the hallway, you’ll see the handprints of the students that we’ve taught since we opened the studio in November 2016. You’ll look on the shelves; the shelves are organized by the art disciplines that we teach. Go through a little bit further; restrooms, my small little office, and then you come into the back room, which is the children’s art room, which has children’s art all over. There is a small storage room and drying racks, and if you go through the back you can hang up your coat. It also has a back door so if the parents drop their kids off on the side street they don’t have to stop on the main street. It’s like home.
All through my military career it has been obvious that the military thinks and does things one way, but I did things another way. But I was very fortunate and blessed that I had commanders that saw that. And so, they encouraged me to be me. And in doing that, I went through 35 years, from the rank of E-1 to E-5 and then O1-O6. I retired and in never losing my passion, never losing my art, I returned to what I have always been. When you retire from the military, you still have a little spirit of energy in you and it just made sense to take the service that I loved and use it to fulfil the passion I love. So that’s how the studio came about.
As children are growing and their knowledge is growing they need structure, and many of their other classes are very structured, and they need to be. But the two classes that I think are most important to a child’s development are music and art. It feeds a different side of their brain; it allows them to expand beyond. It allows them to find who they are and gives them an identity that enhances and complements the knowledge gained in other areas of school, for fuller retention of both. And then when we get older, we stop calling it art and imagination and we start calling it innovative leaders! Art speaks to the child. All the other subjects will speak to the mind, which is important, but art speaks to who they are as individuals and they need it.
Painting. I am a painter, and I love the color. And I love laying the colors down and seeing how the colors interact. If it’s realistic or not, it’s not really the goal. So out of all the lessons, I like teaching about painting.
Recently I have gotten a contract with the Tower Barracks Post Exchange. A new program is called, “Drop and Shop.” The whole idea, is that when parents walk into the PX, they can drop the kids off and they can create a bit of art with me, for two hours, maybe three if we are painting. The parents then go to the PX or go to the commissary, and after they come back with their goodies, their kids have their art; families have another opportunity for an incident free shopping experience. Just another way of serving the community, in addition to helping with the set designing at the Grafenwoehr Performance Arts Center.
For the adults, I think it is the “Sips and Brushstrokes” class. I have been asked to change it from Wednesday night to Friday nights; so, it’s not in the middle of the week. We will restart that class again in July. For the children, I think it is “Home School/After School Art.” I took a poll from the children and what they stated was art at the studio wasn’t just about production. It is about experiencing the art, explaining the art, letting them explore the art, testing out the feel and use of the materials; we have lots of laughter… sometimes we get off track, but it is all in the spirit of art. And we teach each class using the correct art terms from the very beginning.
One of our teachers Tatianna, works full time, and she is a wonderful artist. Her passion for art is strong, but the opportunities to teach art here are limited; those who have that joy do not rotate Stateside! Here, she gets to teach to her passion! So, even if you are a full-time whatever, but an artist at heart, you can apply for an opportunity to teach art here at the studio. Additionally, as requested by current and potential students, I am reintroducing the art journaling classes in July, which is basically putting writing and art together. I have also been asked to put together a painting workshop, so that will be offered soon. We are offering a summer camp that recognizes both the American and German summer breaks, and more. The key is to visit our website or read our Facebook posts to know when the lessons are – and if you want a lesson not shown; just request it! We are new and growing, with lots of opportunities for children of all ages; students come for art lessons at any level and we meet them in their art, then we expand it beyond there. People should come and check it out. If nothing else, come in, look at the studio and get a cup of coffee!
Studio Website: www.caf-artlessons.com
Studio Facebook Site (Public): https://www.facebook.com/CAF2HBB/