When you’re a talented artist with the drive to put your skills to use but you’re also the mother to three young kids, what’s a girl to do? Finding a balance between work and parenting can be challenging but when creativity is at the heart of everything you do, you find a way to make it work. Nicole Smedley of Squirrel Studios is no stranger to juggling work and being a mom. After finding the perfect space, the lightbulb went off – kids’ art! Now your kids can explore different art mediums and discover their own personalities through Nicole’s classes and parties.
Q. We think you’re pretty great, tell us about yourself?
A. My name is Nicole Smedley, Im a work-at-home mom to 3 little girls and wife to an amazing local Chef! I own and operate Squirrel Studios Art Studio. I have 2 art degrees – one in Fine Art and another in Art and Design from ESU. I love being a part of a community that loves art! We have so many cool resources in this area and I’m so happy to be one of them!
Q. Is there a particular artistic medium that you specialize in or enjoy most?
A. Yes! I really enjoy acrylic painting! I love the way the paint moves around the canvas and how I can create just about anything with my paint brush. It’s also so much fun to watch the kids explore with the paint. You really get to see more of their personality when you let them freely paint.
Q. What led you to your decision to open Squirrel Studios?
A. I always wanted to have my own studio but I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted it for myself or to open it up to others. I was in the middle of building my family so I always kept it on the back burner until 2 years ago. We had bought a new house and I had this sweet little studio space, 3 sweet little girls and it kind of hit me – Kids’ Art!! It was a way for me to be with my kids, help my family and follow my schooling and passion for art.
Q. Tell us about Squirrel Studios.
A. Squirrel Studios is a Fine Art studio that specializes in kids’ art and painting parties. I offer 6-8 week kids’ classes that focus on all different types of art mediums. Some of the projects we do are acrylic painting, water color painting, drawing with pencil, marker, colored pencil, oil pastels and chalk pastels. We also create 3D artwork out of paper, clay and mobiles using wire and string. We explore so many different materials and also talk about famous artists, art genres and art techniques. I always try to incorporate an educational aspect in most of my classes. As for my painting parties, I travel to you! These parties can be for anyone. I offer birthday party packages and also Wine and Design nights! There are so many different options.
Q. Typically, what are your class sizes?
A. My class sizes are from 1-4 in the studio. I want to make sure I can offer a personal experience with all the kids so I can teach them without much distraction.
Q. Are the classes for a particular age group?
A. Yes! I offer classes for ages 3 to 5 and a second group for ages 6 to 10. I also offer private lessons for older kids or small groups for older kids if I can build interest in a specific time.
Q. What can a new student expect to do during class?
A. New students will be introduced to the basic elements of art and then we’ll jump right into the daily project. All of the projects are step-by-step so the students can follow along. After each class the student will have an awesome art project to take home!
Q. You teach classes at your home-based studio, but you can also travel for classes, correct?
A. Yes, I will travel up to an hour away for art classes or art parties.
Q. What do you enjoy most about juggling a business and mom life?
A. I love that I can include my kids in my business if I have to. Being an art teacher to children allows me to teach my kids and make sure I’m there for them too. Not only am I building a small business, but I’m doing it in front of my kids. They see all that I do to prepare for my art classes, so I feel like they’re learning about hard work and devotion to a company. I’m so lucky I can expose my kids to this and I hope they learn and grow from it. Maybe one day they’ll want to open their own business and be their own boss!
Q. The juggling act isn’t easy. What are your challenges?
A. I struggle with making sure I’m not keeping my kids from things they want to do because of my busy schedule. I want to make sure they make it to their extra-curricular activities but sometimes work calls. Kids also get sick, and being the only one running my company I occasionally have to cancel classes to take care of my family. I cant pass it off onto a co-worker because it’s just me! Luckily my husband is so supportive so he jumps in as much as he can to make sure everyone is getting where they need to and tucked in when they are sick. I’m so grateful I have such a wonderful guy to fall back on when things get crazy!
Q. What is the best way for our readers to find out more information?
A. They can check out all the studio has to offer on the Facebook page! Facebook.com/kidsartsquirrelstudios