We love working with fabulous instructors here at Museo Art Academy. We know you don't get a lot of time to get to know them before or after classes, which is a shame because they're amazing! So we asked them all the hard-hitting questions we know you'd want to ask them yourselves.
First up is our director and fellow instructor, Ashley McDaniels. Ashley teaches weekly classes and special events (like Masters Night and Summer Camp), develops curriculum, and keeps the studio running like a well-oiled machine. Along with our founder, Marci Knutsen, Ashley is the heart and soul of Museo Art Academy.
What is your first memory with art?
My mom would put large paper on the fridge and give me paint to get wild with...generally I was not clothed. The pictures are priceless!
What is your favorite medium?
Who is your favorite artist (or art movement)? Ok, you can pick two.
All of them... but I very much enjoy Art Nouveau and the impact of the art created by Alfonse Mucha and Toulouse Lautrec. I also like Post-Impressionists like van Gogh.
Why did you become an art teacher?
I enjoy inspiring the same passion I have for art in my students and know it is something that lacks in the general education system.
What do you love about teaching?
That "aha!" moment when a realization or the teaching has sunk in. Also, watching them improve.
What are your hobbies outside of Museo Art Academy?
I have no life outside of Museo...(just kidding). Working on my own art, planning my wedding, camping, fishing (all kinds), hiking, being with friends, and cats :)
What advice would you give someone who loves art?
Follow your passion. Don't let "them" tell you you can't make it as an artist. If you have enough passion you will be just fine. Go to art school or major in art if that is truly what you love. At the end of one's college journey everyone gets a degree, it is what you do with that piece of paper that really matters.
You can read more about Miss Ashley here.
Museo Art Academy has been raising the bar in art education for over 9 years. And it's all because of our founder and president, Marci Knutsen. Marci is a fellow art lover and experienced businesswoman. Along with the teachers and directors you see at the academy, Marci keeps Museo running behind the scenes. We sat down with her to learn more about her background and interests.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I love spending as much time as I can with my family. My husband and I live in Sammamish and have two fabulous kiddos; one is a freshman at the University of Washington and the other is a freshman at Eastlake High School. They’ve all been very supportive in the development and growth of Museo Art Academy and I am incredibly grateful for all of them!
I have an adorable dog, Mozzi (part German Shepherd, part Golden Retriever), who I spend a lot of time with. He’s almost always by my side! I enjoy working on home remodel projects and spending time reading/learning, painting, drawing and skiing.
What's your artistic background?
I’ve been a designer since I was a kid. I think my first official gig was designing a logo for my girl scout troop around the age of 9. I then became a “professional” when I created some corporate branding work for several small businesses as a teenager. I have a BFA in Graphic Design and Visual Communications from Cornish College and worked as a designer, art director and creative director prior to moving into marketing. My fine art strengths lean toward traditional illustration, acrylic painting and pottery which proved to be very helpful in developing the curriculum for many art education programs.
What made you want to start an art academy?
Art has played an important role in my life from a young age; always drawing, painting and hand-lettering since I can remember. I endured a very abusive childhood and attribute art to "saving me". As a young adult, I had been heading down a self-destructive path when I enrolled at Cornish and my life changed. I completed a series of conceptual pieces that forced me to finally process, and thankfully begin to overcome the emotional damage from the past. Understanding first-hand how important creative skills are in a child's healthy development, I didn't hesitate when the opportunity came along to provide art classes to kids.
What is your favorite part about Museo?
I'm very proud of the fact that Museo Art Academy steps in where a lot of schools drop off. We avoid taking the "cookie cutter" approach to art-making in a group where it's all about the product, or end result. Instead, we focus heavily on the process and provide instruction in conceptual exploration and skill-building which cultivates creativity and individual expression in each of our students.
Who is your favorite artist?
I honestly don't have one. I'm drawn to the more modern artists—Picasso, de Kooning, Calder, Rothko and others; always intrigued by use of unique materials, color and texture but I also have a tremendous appreciation for the cultural story-telling aspects of the classical artists.
What do you see in Museo's future?
Museo Art Academy will continue to grow with our students. We're regularly adding new media and techniques to our curriculum in response to our students' interests. We have several students who have been with us for many, many years and we're honored to be able to experience their creative journey with them. We'll be expanding our access to students by opening additional locations as well as establishing an online class program in the near future.
What advice would you give parents? Students?
Students will benefit by listening closely to their instructors and asking questions when something isn’t clear to them. Even if a technique is confusing or complicated, it pays off to stick with it—practice, practice, practice. Buy a sketchbook and use it everyday. Once you have some good foundation skills established, it’s a lot easier to move into new ways to express yourself effectively.
I encourage parents to actively support their child’s learning process. Get involved. Chat with your child’s instructor regularly to better understand the work they’re doing in class and then do what you can to help apply those learnings to the everyday experiences around you. It’s fun and easy. For example, if your child is learning about warm and cool colors during art class, spend five minutes on the drive home identifying examples of each.