ARC AND INSPIRATION
People often ask what inspires me in my artwork. The answer is never simply put. There is always nature and literature making an appearance in my paintings. There is also something bigger. The notion that art should be accessible to all, that it celebrates inclusivity and diversity, and is so beneficial to so many is something that surely drives my work. Sharing my love of art is, by far, my most favorite inspiration.
Since July 2022 I have had the distinct privilege of teaching art classes at The ARC (Autism Resource Center) of Litchfield County to students ages 12-18 that have autism. This inclusive Art Club meets every Monday year round. Once a month, I provide a specific lesson which focuses on the principles of art using various mediums. The director, staff and I facilitate art lessons to foster social skills, listening, communication, building peer relationships, and friendships through creating art. These social skills are so important to children on the autism spectrum who navigate life differently than those without autism. The benefits are numerous, and I feel so lucky to be a part of this wonderful program where I am lovingly referred to as "The Art Lady."
I have also facilitated a mixed media collage workshop for young adults with autism. These students were in the process of moving into their own apartments, in order to live independently for the first time, and the event was designed to meet their neighbors while creating a piece of finished art to hang in their new places.
I am currently working as a middle school educational assistant in Special Education, and have been for the past 25 years at Northwestern Middle School in Winsted, Connecticut. My career, in addition to coaching sports there, has given me many rewarding opportunities to connect with kids and families. I enjoy my work immensely! In 2015 I began painting after a long hiatus, which was a path to opening my own art business in October of 2021. However, I never dreamed I would get to teach art! My love of working in the field of education, along with my passion for art, has brought me to this incredible place, and I am so grateful! The experience of working with the students in this program at ARC has brought so much joy, and has given me an extra purpose. It truly has added unexpected richness to my life.
KINDESS IN MOTION
In May of 2023 I applied for a Kindness in Motion grant through Northwestern Middle School. This is an incredible mini-grant program that was started by Dr. Judy Palmer, Superintendent at Region 7. The original idea was started by Chris Rosati, a father who was diagnosed with ALS, and became determined to do something good with the time he had left. His vision was to create a "butterfly effect," or a chain of kind acts, by providing grant money with the recipient promising to do something kind. I was awarded the generous grant in order to create greeting cards out of the artwork made by students at ARC. It was my hope to sell enough cards to provide steady funding for art supplies for the art club at ARC. So far, I have been able to provide enough art supplies for two projects, with plenty of leftover materials to be enjoyed in future creations. 100% of the proceeds of the sales of these cards goes toward art supplies for ARC, and funds the cost of the cards themselves. Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in purchasing cards to support this very worthwhile cause.
Please watch this video for more information on Kindness in Motion, and Chris Rosati, who passed away at age 46 in 2017. His legacy will live on through Kindness in Motion.
Students in a young adult class created collages that were matted to be framed and hung in their brand new apartments!
If there is extra time, a cat is the thing to draw!
Students quickly learn that art can be messy! "It doesn't matter! As long as you're having fun!" this student exclaims proudly. These sponge-painted bookmarks turned out beautifully!
Students painted a step-by-step snowman scene with live instruction. This was challenging, but they had impressive results! One student proudly set their painting next to mine and stood back to admire their work. Another student managed to work through and overcome their frustration with guidance from the staff and myself. They persevered!
"Community" is a group painting by the students at ARC. Greeting cards of this artwork can be purchased to support art supplies for the Art Club. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to confidentiality, names of artists are withheld.
If interested in private art lessons for your child with autism, please contact me for more information at email@example.com.
For more information on the Art Club contact Jill Sahlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.