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Homeschool Art Class fosters kids’ creativity

ARTHURDALE, W.Va. — A Preston County based nonprofit organization – Arthurdale Heritage, Inc. – is hosting an art class that is open to all members of the community.

The Homeschool Art Class program opened Wednesday with meetings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Teacher Raquel DeLoach is active in the local arts community, occasionally hosting Paint and Sits in Kingwood and working with the Preston Community Arts Center.

The building that housed the Preston Community Arts Center (among many other tenants) is owned by Peterson Ventures, LLC, a single-member LLC of which JoAnn Peterson is the sole member and manager. The owner decided to sell the building last fall and has accepted an offer on the building with an anticipated closing date at the end of this month.

Peterson said that one of the conditions of the future owners was that the Preston Community Arts Center vacated the building by the end of June, as the organization was not paying full rent – it paid less than half of its rent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and has paid less than one-fourth of its rent since the onset of the pandemic, with the stipulation that it would pay the difference when it could.

The organization agreed to vacate the premises by the end of June, according to Peterson.

Since then, DeLoach has become something of a “traveling art host.”

DeLoach said she started the class so homeschool students would have a creative outlet, but participants don’t have to be homeschooled to attend.

Part of DeLoach’s interest in championing the arts lies in her family history. Her grandmother was born, raised and is now buried in Preston County. She described her grandmother as a kind and generous woman and wanted to honor her legacy by providing enriching the community her grandmother was a part of.

“I love what I do, I love the children. It makes me happy to be able to give back to the community,” she said.

Through the class, DeLoach teaches her students basic art skills. The class focuses mostly on painting because the children love it, but DeLoach also teaches them to draw their subjects before getting started with paint.

DeLoach also exposes her students to various mediums like watercolors, acrylics and modeling paste. After providing a simple demonstration, DeLoach checks in on her students in case they need guidance throughout the class.

Each meeting will have a different theme. On Wednesday, each student painted a “magical mushroom house.”

DeLoach said the program provides children with art education and socialization.

“They’re taking art out of public schools, so those children that come that do attend public school, they’re still getting to participate in art. Those who are homeschooled … they come here, the kids can make a mess and I clean it up, and everyone goes home happy,” she said.

The Arthurdale Heritage Center also benefits from the class, said DeLoach. At Wednesday’s class there were 30 participants, who were not only able to engage in creativity, but also visit the historic center itself.

“Each time a new person walks through the door, they’re exposed to the other things that the [Arthurdale] Heritage Center offers,” she said.

There is no set age limit regarding participantion, although DeLoach recommends the class to individuals aged 4 and up. She said sometimes parents want to participate in the class, too, which she doesn’t mind.

Homeschool Art Class will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each Wednesday at the Arthurdale Heritage Center, 18 Q Road, Arthurdale. The class costs $7 per family regardless of family size.

*This story has been updated. Due to a source error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Preston Community Arts Center sold.

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