For many aspiring artists, one of the biggest barriers is not having the proper space or supplies to successfully express themselves.
That’s why Napavine High School art teacher Jennifer Kinsman decided to open Dandelion Creative Space last month at 120 NW Pacific Ave. in downtown Chehalis.
Providing everything from paint, brushes and easels to canvases, pencils and scissors — and even a sewing machine — Kinsman hopes she has anything an artist would need to create their artistic visions.
Now, aspiring artists can simply go to the studio and pay for not only access but all the supplies within. An open studio session with materials provided is $24 for four hours of studio time, as just one example. For those with their own supplies who just need space to work in, there are even more affordable options.
Kinsman originally started thinking about opening Dandelion about two years ago after volunteering to start an after-school art program to assist with gaps in art education.
“I saw a lot of growth in the students that I was working with and I guess that was kind of the precipice to make the big jump. And in my own family and community, we eat and breathe art, so we wanted a place for kids to explore their creativity and socialize and be pushed a little bit with their ideas,” Kinsman said. “Basically I love art and the community and I feel like it’s an important thing.”
Originally, Kinsman tried opening an art studio in November 2019, but due to the COVID-19 shutdowns she had to postpone her plans.
Now, she’s finally able to provide artists with the space she had dreamed of.
“There’s something beautiful about kids using their imaginations and looking forward to something and having an outlet in the community,” Kinsman said. “I want things to be accessible. I feel like paint and Play-Doh and sand and clay, those are wonderful things to have in a home, but sometimes it’s not realistic in your own home, if you live in a smaller space or have grandma’s table that you’ve had for years and don’t want paint stains on it. These tables here, I hope you do get paint on them.”
For younger artists, there’s even a lab space for “tinker time” with supplies. It’s not just for kids to use for art but to create and build things using both materials Kinsman has bought as well as recycled materials.
“I gave this little girl a little box the other day and she spent three hours in here, just like building on her own ideas and having fun, and thinking, ‘Oh well I’ll add this to it now,’” said Kinsman.
Currently, Dandelion is only open on the weekends due to Kinsman’s teaching obligations, but over the winter break she plans to offer more in-depth and longer art lessons for kids.
“Right now, it’s winter break so I’m doing a little winter camp and teaching some more traditional things like acrylic painting and we’ll also do things like snow globe building and those types of things,” Kinsman said.
She added that over the upcoming summer break more art programs and classes will be included.
Dandelion also offers art classes for adults, no matter their skill level. And of course, there are open studio times for adults to attend if they just want to work by themselves.
Despite having started Dandelion by herself, Kinsman offers the space up for artists she knows to use for themselves and to teach their own art classes. She hopes to continue gathering more artists who want to use the space.
“It’s slowly growing and I want to have more artists here. Ideally I’d like to have a mini gallery as well for artists to show their work and celebrate local artists. There’s a lot of wall space,” Kinsman said.
She also hopes to help more women artists gain recognition by making her studio’s platform available for them to use.
This past Sunday morning, The Chronicle joined a royal icing cookie decorating class hosted by Anna Martin, of Rochester, owner of Anna’s Bakery. Normally she hosts her cookie decorating classes at Willie’s Sports Shop in downtown Centralia, which her father owns, but she is now hosting classes at Dandelion as well because of her connection to Kinsman.
“I actually graduated with Jennifer. We’re friends. And she reached out to me not knowing though that we were friends. Because we both had married names, we didn’t make the connection until we talked on the phone,” Martin said.
A total of 15 people showed up to the Sunday morning cookie decorating class, and Martin provided them each with a kit containing six sugar cookies and royal icing she had prepared and packaged in bags.
Over the span of about two hours, Martin taught the class techniques used to decorate and create different effects using icing on cookies.
A full list of upcoming classes, open studio times and tinker lab times can be found and signed up for at https://www.dandelioncreativespace.org/schedule.
For more information about Anna’s Bakery, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/annabakery98579.