PINCKNEY, Michigan – Vivian Combs is already a talented painter at 15. She recently added “art teacher” to her resume.
Combs teaches children’s art classes at the Art Learning Center and Gallery, a new art gallery, arts and crafts studio, and educational space in Pinckney.
The art center offers art lessons and private lessons for adults and children.
It has a gallery for art exhibitions and an art studio at the back. There is a craft space in an attached building next door, the Livingston Daily reports.
Combs was recently installed on canvas and easel to work on her first portrait. The painting, inspired by LGBTQ + activist Marsha P. Johnson, features artificial flowers and a string of beads.
“For the kids, we do whatever is in their age range. We don’t want to push the little kids too much,” Combs said. “We try to find projects that are good for everyone.”
Co-owner Cindy Mitchell said she wanted to train the next generation of art teachers and provide a space for artists to show and sell their work.
Mitchell is a painter who previously taught at the Light of the World Academy, which has been located across from the art center for over 15 years and continues to provide art education for the charter school. She also gives private lessons.
She opened the gallery with her boyfriend Victor Bertl, engineer and photographer.
She said teaching in her new art center is different from teaching in a school setting.
“The kids who come here all have a real passion for it,” said Mitchell. “They don’t have to be here.
She said that three of her five art teachers are teenagers who are her students.
“My idea is to raise young people so that they can take it back one day.”
Morgan Doersch, 18, spends part of his summer vacation teaching at the art center before going to college. Mitchell was his art teacher growing up.
“She definitely influenced me. She’s the one who showed me all the mediums, oil paint, watercolors, pastels,” Doersch said.
She said she had learned more than how to make art.
“I definitely learned a lot of patience, and also with the teaching aspect, I learned relationship skills and how to work with people,” Doersch said.
Having the new art center also presents opportunities for professional adult artists.
Sarah Grusin of the Brighton Art Guild is exhibiting a painting created by her mother, retired painter Jane Coates, 90, until the end of September.
“It was a happy coincidence. All summer I worked on a catalog of his art,” said Grusin.
She said Mitchell kept telling her she wanted to come see Coates’ works in person.
Grusin said she wanted to do the exhibition to celebrate her mother’s award-winning artistic career and sell some of her work.
“I would like these jobs to find good homes,” said Grusin. “There are only a certain number that I can keep or pass on.”