When a couple of moms and their toddlers walked into Julie J Studio, owner Julie Latayan immediately went into artist mode.
She set the children up at small easels where they could express their creativity through some finger-painting. They also had a chance to color and play with "Moon Dust."
"(I enjoy) seeing the kids so excited about what they make," said Latayan, a Grayslake resident. "They're just beaming."
An artist from birth, Latayan said her own talent really took off in eighth grade.
"My teacher was a real artist and she really took me under her wing," she said.
Latayan went on to spend five years teaching art at Wilmington High School near Joliet. She also displayed her art street fairs and art shows. She even opened her own studio but eventually sold the building.
She decided to open a studio in Libertyville because "the opportunities were here, the culture is here.
"It's a really friendly town," she added.
A Sea of Color
Julie J Studio is a colorful environment. Students' paintings hang on the walls. The floor in the back part of the studio is splattered with paint. Latayan repurposed an inexpensive large, round table and painted a large peacock on it. Even the chairs at the table have been repurposed; she covered them with green spray paint and then painted peacock feathers on them.
Latayan admits that the studio is still a work in progress.
"It's just like a painting—it's always going to change," she said.
Though she opened her studio just a few weeks ago, Latayan has already seen a steady stream of budding artists walk through her door at 117 E. Cook Ave. in downtown Libertyville.
"It's word-of-mouth," said Theresa Rice, Latayan's sister who came from Colorado to help open the studio. "And it's the way Julie takes the time with each student."
Variety of Classes
She offers classes and lessons for all ages.
There's a drawing class for children ages 6 to 12, where students learn basic shading techniques, use of line and perspective. There are acrylics and watercolor classes for the same age group. Each class is $90 for four weeks and includes all materials.
Adults can also take acrylics, drawing and watercolor classes. The fee is $110 per four-week class.
Latayan is also planning a Spring Break Camp from March 25-29 that will feature drawing and painting lessons.
Budding artists can also take hour-and-a-half drop-in painting classes where the cost is based on the size of the canvas, paper, glass or wood. Julie J Studio also offers group parties, including birthday parties and Glow in the Dark parties.
"Anybody can learn (to paint)," Latayan insists. "It's a process. And if you start with a good drawing, you'll get a good painting."
For more information on the classes offered, visit the Julie J Studio website.