Creative Arts Education for All

by Daryn Jackson | Robco Resident + Web Designer

Walking into Willow Oak Center for Arts and Learning, just a block off the downtown Historic Springfield Square, I’m struck by not only the many genres of art represented on the walls and in the windows, but the quality of it. It’s clear anyone can join in and take a class at Willow Oak; it’s also clear that there is some serious natural talent represented by the artists and makers in this community. An intricate macrame hangs from the ceiling next to painting supplies and rows of brushes. The walls showcase the works created by my Springfield neighbors. It’s impressive.

I’ve come to Willow Oak today to take an Intro to Photoshop class. As a web designer and marketing content specialist, I’m always looking for tools to add to my belt. I’m also curious about Willow Oak as a relatively new resident of Springfield. You can’t spend much time in this area without hearing about all the opportunities to learn, connect, and create at this sweet arts center off the square. I’d heard about their painting and macrame classes, the photography and mixed media workshops, even the Christmas concert put on by the choir assembled by Willow Oak artists. Driving home from Nashville some nights, I pass classes taking place inside and it always looks like they’re just having so much fun in there. When I heard about the Photoshop class, I signed up right away.

Immediately, I’m glad I signed up! Lacie, the course instructor, is kind and warm. She checks in with each of us to see how comfortable we are with Photoshop, our general experience level, and what we hope to learn. Luckily, we’re all on about the same level so we dive right in. I’ve taught workshops like this before, where an instructor has to communicate complex tasks in a way a room full of very different people are all able to understand and use the knowledge right away. It’s tough. Lacie takes her time, makes sure to come around to each of us individually, and guides us through the content with patience and ease. 

By the time we’re finished and we’ve all stared at our screens for four hours, we feel a little zombie-like but we have learned A LOT. I’ve managed to create something from scratch that looks like an actual, professional design! Four hours at Willow Oak, and I’ve gained a new skill that will help me be more effective in my work. That’s a win in my book!

This was such a great experience. I’m thankful that there is a community of people pouring into arts education for the people in my community. Whatever your artistic curiosity or passion, there is a place for you at Willow Oak. I can’t wait to sign up for my next class!

Find more information about Willow Oak Center for Arts and Learning, including their classes and events schedule, HERE.