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J. Wang, age 14

Welcome to ActonArt

YOUR STUDENT HAS BEGUN a very special creative journey and we would like to share some information about our program with you. ActonArt offers a year-round drawing instruction and fine arts program for students of all ages and skill levels. You can read through this entire overview, or simply browse for specific information. If you have any questions there are additional resources on this web site to assist you. Please check out our FAQ page, Class Descriptions, Contact Us page and more.


ActonArt uses email for all communication with students and families, including information about re-enrollment, important deadlines, the student art show, other studio events, etc. In the process of registration you have automatically "opted-in"* to accept email communications from ActonArt. You may request to "opt-out" but you will not receive any notifications from us regarding class weather cancellations or other such last-moment information. Only the primary email address you supplied during registration will be used to send you messages. We also post signs on the bulletin boards and occasionally give hand-outs in the studio. Open Studio dates will also be posted on the bulletin boards and the web site calendar page. This web site contains a great deal of information and can provide answers to most questions. The studio phone may not be answered during class times. If you must speak with someone, check the schedule online and call during the interim between classes. Teachers can NOT interrupt a class to answer the phone.

*You can opt-out at any time by using the Unsubscribe link found at the bottom of all our broadcast email communications. Please be aware that if you choose to opt-out you will not receive ANY messages from us including class cancellations due to weather or illness, schedule changes or information specific to your student's class. ActonArt is not responsible for any miscommunication that occurs due to opt-outs.


EACH WEEK your student will join us in a project designed to demonstrate a specific learning objective that is important to the development of perceptual skills needed for realistic and representational art. They will also learn how to use and control materials so they can achieve the results they desire and learn new techniques in the process.

Age appropriate learning objectives include identifying EDGES or contours, LIGHT AND SHADOW tones, recognizing positive and negative SPACES, understanding RELATIONSHIPS such as scale, proportion and perspective, and learning about COLOR relationships and impact. We have developed a high-level curriculum which allows for the incorporation of all aspects of drawing, from simple flat objects, to highly complex, layered scenes, human forms, portraits and much more.

Classes for BEGINNERS, the youngest students, emphasize learning to see edges, anticipating or planning a drawing and learning to control the materials used to complete the artwork. BASIC drawing students are introduced to the range of visual perceptions including edges, spaces, dimensional relationships, light & shadow and color. INTERMEDIATE level students study all the material covered in the lower class levels, but with increased complexity, longer classes and greater independence.

More experienced students can participate in classes such as Mixed Media where new and sophisticated materials and techniques are introduced, or Portfolio classes, where students who wish to continue into arts related higher learning can work independently, but with guidance, to develop and enhance their soon-to-be needed portfolios.

Our most advanced students can join Advanced Studio Drawing and Painting as well as Advanced Painting, three high level class for students who can work completely independently. In addition, Faces, Features, Figures is an instructed figure drawing class that provides students with teacher led exercises and demonstrations not typically found in figure drawing environments.

Manga drawing 1 and 2 provide an alternative approach to drawing instruction by combining a comprehensive curriculum of drawing instruction built exclusively around topical subject matter. Adult drawing and painting programs are designed to provide a more flexible schedule of instruction with a focus on adult interests. Finally, THE ART YEAR, a remarkable class designed to help transition students into artists!

Drawing is a skill that anyone can learn with practice and application, but skill development alone does not produce creativity. That requires the addition of interest, opportunity, and resources. Each week ActonArt classes present projects that are designed to stimulate imaginations, offer encouragement toward personal expression, and provide visual references and art materials necessary to produce artwork. We are particularly attentive to finding subject matter and background information that engages kids, builds upon their interest and teaches them new things about the world, its inhabitants and nature. While creativity is rarely produced on demand, we believe it can be encouraged, stimulated and invited.


We maintain a noncompetitive, nonjudgmental learning environment. This is reflected in the neutrality of our teachers when they assist or guide students. There is no “better” or “best”, no right or wrong, no line that is truly a mistake. While we will always assist students who need help, we prefer to guide them to look inside themselves for answers and solutions instead of handing them easy fixes. The more independently they can work on their art, the more it truly belongs to them. We promote cooperation among the students by sharing ideas. We want students to appreciate the differences in their style and finished artwork.

Along with successful development of drawing skills, our goal for your child is to provide a well-rounded art experience using many approaches and materials that have grown out of our involvement in art education and child development. We find that art lessons are very similar to music lessons. A student who practices, makes continual effort, and is exposed to art, advances in artistic skill and experiences increased self-confidence. Consistent participation in drawing classes is essential so your child can take advantage of his developing perceptual skills and intellectual growth over the years. However continual classes may fatigue some children. Many families find one or two trimesters per year to be the ideal pace for their children. Please do not feel that it is imperative to maintain unbroken enrollment. It may actually be better for some students to take breaks so they can integrate their new skills independently and return for further instruction on a recurring schedule.

We have observed that nearly all children must achieve age-related and developmental milestones before they can understand many aspects of visual perception. Moving children between the ages of 5 to 9 years too quickly will put them in classes with projects they cannot understand or complete. Please do not hesitate to ask us for advice on appropriate classes for your student.

We want every student to have a positive experience that helps them better understand drawing, art and their own creative insight. Thanks for your support and interest in the ActonArt drawing and fine arts program. We invite your questions and suggestions and any project or other ideas you might have.


The ActonArt teachers have been working together as a group since 2006. They collaborate enthusiastically, and individually offer a rich combination of talent, rapport, dedication to their students and the highest quality teaching standards. You can learn more about everyone on our Teachers web page.


To support and improve your students experience you can help them get ready for each class. Ideally, students should come to the studio relaxed, settled and mentally prepared for a challenge. That's not always easy to accomplish after a hard day at school, but if you encourage them to always have an open mind they may discover they can enjoy every project they work on.


ActonArt classes ALWAYS START ON TIME and students need every minute of the class time to work on projects. We must take a strong stand on delivery and pick up of your children at the designated times of the class. It is essential to arrive on time. Late arrivals are disruptive to every other student and penalize them even though they arrived on time. Students who arrive late risk being denied admission.

STUDENTS WHO ARRIVE LATE SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY A PARENT OR GUARDIAN. LATE ARRIVING STUDENTS MAY NOT BE DROPPED OFF AT THE DOOR. EACH STUDIO DOORWAY WILL REMAIN OPEN UNTIL 5 MINUTES PAST THE PUBLISHED START-TIME OF THE CLASS. ONCE THE STUDIO DOORS ARE SHUT NO LATE STUDENTS WILL BE ADMITTED. Students must be picked up promptly at dismissal time. Parents of children age 8 and under should come into the studio at the time of dismissal and accompany their children. We have arranged for a limited number of drop-off /pick-up parking spaces at the rear of our studio building to facilitate a quick transition.

We do not wish to impose inflexible policies on our students or families but the impact from late arrivals is serious enough that we must enforce this consistently. Every week, the first minutes of class are important to introduce the project, explain the learning objectives and teach students how to organize their thinking around the "process" we will follow. To accomplish this the studio environment must stimulate and engage them, allow them to focus without distraction and integrate information about both the drawing and the process. Late arrivals can negate all of these desired results for the entire class. Timely arrivals will go a long way to help us maintain the quality of our classes and give students all their allotted time to finish up projects in class. Please allow adequate time to arrive at the studio on time for the beginning of the class.


If students are slightly fatigued it will usually not have a negative impact, but if they are exhausted from a non-stop day they may not be able to maintain the focus or concentration needed to draw. If your student seems to be yawning through class you might want to inquire about the possibility of a different class time.


As each class ends, the studio doors are opened and parents/guardians are welcome to enter and see what their students have drawn. We suggest that you ask your children to tell you about their artwork. Ask them questions like:

  • Was this a challenging drawing?
  • Did you like this one?
  • Are you happy with your picture?
  • What parts do you like or dislike?

You may be surprised by their responses. Kids can be very thoughtful when talking about their artwork. Let them tell you about their experiences first, and then congratulate them on their successes and remind them that they learn the most from the parts that are unsatisfactory (or, as they call them, "mistakes"). Beauty does not require perfection!


ActonArt does not provide credits or refunds for missed classes. If a student is unable to attend a class, a family member may take the student's place (they must be age appropriate). Alternately, STUDENTS MAY REQUEST ACCESS TO AN ONLINE VIDEO PROJECT IF ONE IS AVAILABLE, OR THE STUDENT MAY ASK TO ATTEND A DIFFERENT CLASS DURING THE WEEK OF THE CURRENT LESSON PLAN. THE MISSED PROJECT MUST STILL BE THE CURRENT WEEKLY PROJECT. MAKE-UPS ARE AVAILABLE ONLY IN CLASSES WHICH HAVE OPENINGS DUE TO AN ABSENCE OR ARE NOT FULLY ENROLLED, AND MUST BE IN THE SAME CLASS LEVEL. This is a limited, first-come, first-served arrangement and once a class is full it is closed for additional make up students. ALL FULLY ENROLLED CLASSES ARE CLOSED FOR MAKE UPS. We have surveyed a number of local organizations and believe that our policy is among the most flexible. Many art or music organizations offering group classes simply state that there are NO make-ups available. ActonArt students MUST receive permission to attend a different class day from the school director. Please DO NOT simply show up at a different class. Please call us at 978-266-1600 to arrange for make ups OR you may email us a request.

ActonArt will provide one (1) video make-up class per trimester to students who have missed a class as a courtesy. Many students do not miss any classes during a trimester and a smaller number miss only one. ActonArt may, or may not be able to provide more than one video per trimester depending upon how many videos are available for each class level and how many videos are being requested by students.

During the winter trimester weather conditions may force ActonArt to cancel classes. ActonArt will provide all students who have classes cancelled with make up classes either in-studio or as online videos. Because those video classes are recordings of the identical project that was missed, there will be a time delay to produce them before they are available to students. Videos will be provided via emailed links even if the trimester has ended and students are not in class when the video becomes available.


We strive to create a quiet, non-judgmental, safe environment where students are free to explore and create their art. If you choose to remain at the studio during your child's class you are welcome to wait in our lobby/gallery. Our studios have been designed with windows to provide clear visibility to permit viewing both in and out. Please try to remain discreet, and do not allow siblings or other children to gather at, or peer in during class. If the class is distracted by outside activity we shall have to ask observers to leave.


Managing student talking is always a challenging aspect of teaching a drawing class. There are both positive and negative aspects of conversation in the studio. Conversation stimulates creativity, encourages cooperative problem solving, and provides a sense of comfort among friends. However during the planning and drawing stages of the class, conversation is disruptive and can defeat a student's concentration and focus, ultimately leading to an unsatisfactory result. Also, it distracts other students as well, which we cannot allow. Students who talk in class when quiet is needed will be asked to stop. Since everyone who attends class at ActonArt comes by choice we expect that they will respect the needs of the class and maintain a quiet environment. If students cannot or will not control their conversation, we will contact parents to discuss solutions.


The bathrooms at ActonArt are public bathrooms directly outside our studios (in the hallway). We encourage all parents to make sure that children use the bathroom prior to class. ActonArt staff cannot accompany any children to the bathroom in the event that they need to use the facilities.


We are often open for class on public school Snow Days! Always call ActonArt at 978-266-1600 or visit studio weather conditions to find out if we are open or closed due to weather. Telephone announcements may also be available. We do not alway follow the Acton-Boxborough public school closures. Even if local schools are closed for the day, ActonArt may be open. If classes are cancelled due to weather, Make-up classes will be scheduled.


IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS or concerns please feel free to speak with me or your student's teacher. Conversations prior to, or after classes can be difficult as teachers may be very busy. The following email addresses are provided if you wish to arrange a time to speak via phone or in person. We look forward to seeing you all in the studio in the coming weeks.

John Goodnough
ActonArt Director

School Manager
Chloe Goodnough:

Chris Parent:
Roxanne Vanslette:
Julie Ripley:
Jackie Musto:
John Goodnough:
Sahar Ghavimi: