Classical art school teaches kids fundamentals

TAMPA, Fl. - Who says kids aren’t reaching for the stars these days?  In a West Tampa art studio, a group of budding young artists offer proof.  They’re studying at the Vosler Young Artists Studio, a classical Atelier, an art school for kids under 18 years of age.

It differs in many ways from a typical kids art class. These young ones aren’t expecting to take a piece of artwork home every day. Instead, they are learning all about the very structure and foundation of drawing, in the same way the great masters did, like Michelangelo and Da Vinci.  No instant gratification here, but lots of structure, and practice, and the reward of learning something new each time they’re in the studio.

Kerry Vosler, an accomplished professional artist, started the program with her husband, Colonel James Vosler, in 2010.

“We started it because it’s very important for kids to have a place to go to get fundamental art lessons. To learn the classical arts is very important,” said Vosler.

This is a skills-based program. Students learn all about measuring, and angles, and ‘seeing’ in such a way to draw something from the natural world with truth and precision. They first learn to draw basic shapes, and will eventually learn to draw from casts.

“We actually slow kids down. We want them to really learn the craft of drawing, and you can’t paint well without learning the craft of drawing first, and you must get very good at it,” said Vosler.

The Atelier method is modeled after art schools in Europe many centuries ago.  Atelier means ‘workshop’ in French.  And indeed this is a working studio. Each student has his or her own easel and space in which to work, and the comaraderie of other young artists who are serious about learning.

William Yeats Ihrig is a third year student, who has some impressive artwork on display around the studio. He now continues to study with Vosler, while also assisting younger students.

“It’s like learning a language,” said Ihrig. “A writer doesn’t write without knowing grammar, that’s impossible. So an artist needs to know these things in order to convey their ideas.”

Ihrig believes this Atelier has made quite a difference for him.

“It’s been like, almost life-changing. I love it so much!” said Ihrig.

The Vosler Young Artists’ Studio is located in the Santaella Studio for the Arts building in West Tampa.

Pre-teens study on Saturday afternoons, teens on Sunday.  Each class costs $30.  The school is looking for corporate and private sponsorships for talented students needing financial assistance. For more information, contact

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