A letter from founder, Jaya S. Raja

Dear Friends,

Varnam began 12 years ago, as a fun little class for kids. My kids, then aged 4 and 2, had a keen interest in art and creativity. While there was a bounty of drawing and coloring classes for kids, there was a dearth of art instruction. As I tried one class after another for my kids, I found that almost none of them were actually nurturing the skills and talents of my kids. Having always had a passion for the arts and crafts from a very young age, I decided to do something to fill this void of proper art instruction. As I gathered 4 young children in my small makeshift classroom in my house, we started an adventure that has blossomed and grown in ways I never imagined.

In my experience, art has always been a process of discovery and expression, yet I felt children need some specific direction and information to help them channel their abilities into visual works of art. In this age of internet there is a plethora of information and visual aids available for children, that it is quite easy for the kids to be overwhelmed by it and shun away from it even. A child’s inability to create much of what they imagine, comes from a lack of knowing how. This is interpreted by most children and even some parents as an absence of talent rather than a lack of instruction.

With this in mind I developed an original curriculum of a structured step-by-step method to teach children drawing, the fundamental skill of all visual arts. The Varnam method focuses on teaching children to draw, using demonstration and a structured step-by-step process. Through the process of weekly instruction students are exposed to a wide variety of subject matter, artistic concepts, and mastery of their materials. The development of foundational skills for preschool and elementary students is critical. There is a common misunderstanding that creativity happens without instruction, that artistic creativity comes forth naturally from a child or adult. Varnam believes true creativity comes forth when mastery of core skills is combined with original thought.

The method was flexible enough to accommodate children with different skill levels. This meant that every child had a unique experience, while still in-line with the method. This has helped foster the interest of each and every child and nurture their creativity in unique ways. This has also encouraged the children to be comfortable with their skill levels, resulting in higher confidence levels.

Varnam now has over 70 students and has become a recognized leader in art education in Chennai, India. Students of all ages gleefully create their own masterpieces, which is displayed in an Art show for public viewing. This art show has become an annual event, currently in its 5th year.

I am proud and excited to announce that we are spreading our wings to New Jersey. This new venture is the brainchild of my sister Geetha, who shares my same passion and ethos of art education. She herself is an accomplished do-it-yourself blogger, now gearing up to carry on the Varnam art education method in America.

Jaya S. Raja

Founder, Varnam Art Class.