Bio: Casey Wiegand grew up in Dallas and studied early childhood education at Baylor. After graduating, she combined her undergraduate pursuits with her passion for art to create “A Little Artsy”, an art school for children and adults. Casey is a self-taught, mixed media abstract artist who uses a combination of various materials in her work to achieve a layered and textured look. She won the Jury Award for painting at the Dallas City Arts Festival. Nature, music, spirituality, and family heavily influence Casey’s artwork.
AHD: First of all, A Little Artsy is such a neat idea. Kudos to you on your leap of faith! Can you tell us how you decided to open up your very own creative space?
CW: I had been teaching art at Highland Park Presbyterian Day School and one day after work my husband Chris and I were daydreaming. We decided opening an art studio for kids and adults, where we could not only give them a creative outlet but also a place where we build up their self-esteem, love them and make them feel special, would be a really incredible thing for our lives!
AHD: The studio is just magical. Have you found the Dallas area to be ripe for this kind of storefront offering?
CW: YES! And thank you! We wanted it to have a “coffeehouse meets Anthropologie” feel—cool music, dim lighting—we wanted kids to feel safe and happy just by walking through the doors. Plus, as an artist myself, I love painting in creative spaces. We wanted good music and good lighting–just an overall artsy feel.
AHD: You started as an art teacher, began creating and selling your own works, and now do both. Name one thing you find special about making art and teaching others to do the same.
CW: Well, I heard a quote once that said basically if you share the gifts God has given you, it is like returning the gifts to Him. I want to bless people with my gifts, share what I know and help others be inspired!
AHD: Lot’s of people talk about shaping community and culture via the arts, but it’s hard to think of a better way to affect change than to instruct young children in the ways of artful living. What kind of an impact do you think your work has on the community now, and in the years to come?
CW: I agree. I think that if we can pour into the kiddos at a young age it will affect them all the way up to adulthood. Also, quite a few of the kids’ moms now come to adult art nights. It is really neat to see how the studio can bless little ones all the way up to adults. Many of us can remember the exact moment a teacher or classmate made us feel inadequate. Twenty years later those moments are still fresh in my mind. We hope to imprint positive memories the same way! Give kids a confidence. A lot of the art we make has abstract interpretations—they are made to be “silly or different”. It helps SO much to take pressure off of these kiddos.
AHD: One testimonial at alittleartsy.com is from a mother who took up painting after enrolling her kids in one of your studio classes. How rewarding is it to reach the parents of your younger pupils?
CW: It is SO rewarding. We want to pour into the whole family! Those moms and dads need outlets just like the kiddos do. We LOVE when we can work with the entire family! The relationships we have made with so many of these lovely people are just priceless.
AHD: You’re the proud mother of a couple of precious kiddos. How has parenthood changed your perspective on the arts?
CW: It has just made what I already believed that much more real. Our babies have been painting starting at 8 months old. They know getting messy is great—every creation is beautiful. If their bird looks nothing like a bird, it is still the most beautiful bird I have ever seen! It is so important for their development to be working creatively at a young age.
AHD: How might a newbie learn some basics about artful parenting?
CW: I have a blog and I am hoping to start putting some of my curriculum online for parents to go step by step with their own kiddos. Also, we have mommy and me classes that can help foster creativity and new ideas. The mommy and me classes are for kiddos to come to the studio with their parents (or even grandparents) and go through the “artsy experience” together. In addition to various activities for you both, we will be able to give you ideas for at home as well.
AHD: You and your husband have a knack for distilling such beauty from everyday life. Is there a secret, or were you simply born with a heightened aesthetic sense?
CW: I would say that we both have definitely always seen the world a little bit different. It was amazing when I met him to see how as a team we just exploded with creativity. We are both freelance, so we have faith that month after month people will buy my art, hire Chris for films/photos and sign up for classes. We don't want to take jobs just because we are fearful. We have tremendous faith that we’re in God's will, therefore we will be taken care of!
AHD: Do you have any advice for other active creatives who may be thinking about starting their own small business in the area?
CW: Follow your dreams. We all have a purpose here on earth. Life is too short to be miserable in a job you don’t love. We put everything on the line—our wedding rings, cars, film equipment—so that we could take out a business loan. We took time, searched for the perfect location and just went for it! Originally I created the artsy curriculum and ideas behind the projects, but we now have a full-time teacher (who is amazing) and she also does this now. She is there day in and day out, loving on these kiddos, so it is very fitting that she would help now with the curriculum that fits best with the different classes.
AHD: How can readers learn more about you and your work with A Little Artsy?
CW: My blog is a great way to keep up with what our family has going on. We have A Little Artsy, my husband's film and photography companies, my own art for sale and various other projects all going on. Also, A Little Artsy has its own website with info on classes, parties, camps and art nights.