Disney or bust: 8-year-old dreams of animation, art future
WHITE HOUSE, Tenn. (AP) — She started drawing at three, graduated to painting at six and hopes have a career as a Disney animator someday.
Now, at eight years old, Anastasia Tamm is taking steps to make her biggest dream a reality with the help of her art teacher, Charlotte Byrdfeather, and the other adults and children who take lessons at the Studio 76 Artists Group in White House.
“I love Disney movies,” Anastasia said, noting that her favorite is “Sleeping Beauty.” ″I like watching the art and the story.”
Since she was a small child, Anastasia has always been interested in art, according to her mother Olga Tamm, a Hendersonville resident who came to the United States as a student from her native Russia in 1998.
A full-time mom, Tamm and her husband of 20 years have two children. Anastasia’s older sister is 18, a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
As a family, they try to visit extended family in Russia every two or three years, but Anastasia’s ideal vacation is visiting museums in New York and Washington D.C., her mom said. She’s been to New York twice and would return in a heartbeat if asked.
“Art is her passion,” Olga Tamm said. “At five and a half, she was like, ‘Mommy I want to do professional painting, like professional,’ and I was like, ‘What? Do you even know what professional means?’ And she was like, ‘yes, I know. I want to become a professional painter.’”
The confession led to the Studio 76 Artists Group and Byrdfeather, who is no stranger to teaching children. Of her 45 regular students, a little less than half are 18 or younger, the Robertson County resident said.
Like most students, Anastasia comes to the studio once a week, usually on Tuesdays, and works for about two hours. Recently, she was finishing a painting that featured a lighthouse on the water.
At Studio 76, classes are integrated with children and adults taking lessons side by side. Students range in age from 5-86, and they come from communities throughout Middle Tennessee, but they all begin their studies in the same way, Byrdfeather said.
“I have every one of them do the same picture, but in their own style,” she said. “It’s simple, a picture of trees, sky and water, but everybody interprets it in their own way.
“I want to see what’s in their head. That’s how I learn about them.”
For Anastasia, the memory of her first attempt at painting two years ago still lingers.
“I really didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I just kind of globbed paint on the canvas. I was trying to paint trees, but I didn’t know how, so I just grabbed a plate and started mixing colors.
“It didn’t really turn out all that great.”
“She has a goal, and she works hard,” Olga Tamm said of her daughter. “Some kids, you know how they play around or whatever, but she comes, she gets her paints, and she sits down for two hours, no moving.”
After their first painting, Byrdfeather said her students get to choose whatever they want to paint moving forward.
Completed artwork is often displayed around White House, in galleries at City Hall, the library and Chamber of Commerce offices as well as the Goodlettsville library. Some of the paintings are taken to area art shows, where they can be sold if an artist chooses.
Since she began painting, Anastasia has sold one of her paintings but hopes to sell more. Some of her newer works are displayed at Studio 76 in White House, but her mom says they usually don’t stay there long.
“She’s always saying, ‘I want to put it in my room. I want to put it on the wall,’” Olga Tamm said. “Her bedroom is full of paintings.”
In the seven years she’s been in her current location, Byrdfeather has helped seven students get art scholarships to universities across the United States.
Two are currently enrolled.
The others come back and visit often, she said.
“Everybody’s an artist, but they just don’t know it,” Byrdfeather said. “We have all kinds of artists, and all levels here. Some paint for fun. Some paint for therapeutic reasons. It’s a great stress reliever, and it’s great for special needs adults and children. But I have some who are dead set with it, that’s what they want in life, so we just work at it.
“Anastasia has a gift.”
The Jack Anderson Elementary third grader will enter competitions, and she and Byrdfeather will collaborate on a portfolio that could, someday, help Anastasia get into college.
“If a student tells me, ‘this is what I want to do,’ then we’re going to work at it,” Byrdfeather said. “I will write letters about their talent. If they want, I will advise them on which colleges are best for them based on what they want to do.
“I’ll be their biggest advocate.”
To learn more about the Studio 76 Artists Group, visit their Facebook page or call Byrdfeather at 615-351-2563.
Reach Nicole Young at 615-306-3570 or email@example.com.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com