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Walnut Creek Magazine

Unleash the Artist Within

Mar 13, 2017 04:41PM ● By Deborah Burstyn

It’s all about the process at Walnut Creek’s new Rebel Art School. It’s about that exhilarating feeling of channeling your inner creativity, being in the moment and making something just for fun. Sometimes the results end up looking pretty darn good, too.

Like the black horse.  A dainty abstract sculpture on the shelf the day we visited Rebel Art School beautifully conveyed the swoop and grace of a real horse. If the piece was in an art gallery, you might be tempted to buy it. “An eight year old crafted the horse out of paper and paint,” Owner and Teacher Alexandra Hollingshead, age 26, revealed.  

“I teach the kids about observation and proportion and how these things work together,” she explains. “But I never tell them how something should look. There is no right or wrong in art.” That goes for grown-ups who take her classes too. “Adults have had many more years of being told they’re no good at art; that they can’t do it,” says Hollingshead. “The approach to making art that focuses only on the results, not the process, can take away confidence. We’re building confidence as well as the joy of making art.”

Joy in making art has been a constant throughout Hollingshead’s life, much of which has been spent in Walnut Creek. She attended Walnut Creek Intermediate after her family moved here when she was a young teen.  At Las Lomas High School, she was an AP Art Student, and then at San Diego State University, she studied painting, printmaking and art history.

A graduate art program in Galway, Ireland was up next, but on a visit home, a chance reconnection with a former school acquaintance turned into love and marriage. Galway’s loss became Walnut Creek’s gain when Hollingshead decided to channel her ambitions into opening a new art studio in the little Bont Lane cottage once home to Safest Way driving school. And it doesn’t hurt that her husband is the noted floral designer Darwin Harrison, who along with his mother Susan, owns the award-winning Florali.

The Rebel Art School spacewith its long, adjustable-height art tables and white chairs, light wood floors and white walls, accented with wooden easels and inspirational bits of art––evokes a functional charm. “I wanted a space to do my art and create a welcoming space for the community,” says Hollingshead.

Classes include watercolor, acrylic, sculpture and mixed media collage. She offers “mini-rebel” workshops for children ages two and up. There are also full and half-day art camps and parties for kids and adults. Hollingshead and her flower-arranging husband hope to do workshops together on wreaths, flower crowns and corsages. “I just started the second session and enrollment has doubled. The outpouring of love and support from the community has been amazing.”