Spring is almost upon us, and that means a new session of creativity-packed classes with Arts Umbrella. We have been speaking to our faculty to provide families with an idea of what children and young people can expect in the studio this Spring.

Riba Kalb has been an art instructor for over 30 years in Mexico and Canada. She has qualifications in education, art for children, and creativity and education, as well as being a Certified Expressive Arts Therapist. Riba brings a love of the arts and deep understanding of creative education to our Drawing & Painting and Mixed Media classes for children.

Here, Riba gives us insight into her process in classes, the relationship between creativity and imagination, and why it’s good to make mistakes – or “art-cidents” – in the studio.


What’s is the importance of arts education?

Art education allows children to be creative, to use stories and imagination, to better process and express their feelings, and reflect on their inner world. I love for [my students] to make choices, to make mistakes, to take charge and control of their actions. That’s how they become proud of what they are doing.

We create a safe environment, one of acceptance. If [children] want to paint a pink elephant with purple dots, it’s accepted. I want them to feel confident and secure about their personal choices. There is no right or wrong. It’s an environment where they can be whoever they need to be.


How do you approach each class?

I want the children to learn about art history, so there will always be that component in my class – a focus on a theme, a period, or an artist. But I also want always to have personal expression in what I’m teaching.

Whether the subject is Henri Rousseau or animals, the way I present the materials allows the children to express themselves. I will never be forcing them or telling them what to do, they will always make the choices.


Talk us through the creative process

I always like the creative process to allow [[my students] to make mistakes. I call them “art-cidents”. I want children to make mistakes then use their imagination and creative process to turn them into new things; to make better things than they were expecting.

I want them to be creative, flexible and original. It’s personal expression. I like them to share a story when they’re doing things, to tell me what they are doing, for the experience to be meaningful.

With TV, media and computers, sometimes we can be very blocked. Children sometimes don’t have time to play or use their imagination, so I want to offer that opportunity to create. To use their imagination and connect the mind with the hand.


What sort of techniques and ideas do you explore in class?

I talk a lot about texture, theory of colour, shape, shades, how to blend colours, how to overlap, how to mix colours, how to make shapes. Cool colours, warm colours and complementary colours. We use pastels, watercolours, tempera paint, watercolours inks, and collage.


How have you found delivering classes online during the pandemic?

We thank the parents so much for helping them to participate in the online classes. Here, we are still able to show personal attention to every child. Every child participates, opens up, and tells their story. Students are not quiet in my classes – they are able to share and talk about their work.


You can register for Arts Umbrella’s Spring classes here on our website.