Joseph F. Berenato
Classes, more at Piney Hollow Arts Studio
Paula Farrar has loved art since she was a child.
“I won my first award when I was 9, in the fourth grade, for designing the front of a Christmas card. From there, it was a love for me,” Farrar said.
Farrar later attended The Art Institute of Philadelphia for fashion design and Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) for advertising, and continued to learn on her own as well.
“Up and down the Eastern Seaboard, I have studied with private artists; they were my mentors,” Farrar said.
Farrar spent years selling insurance—”to make ends meet so I wouldn’t be a starving artist,” she said—until changes in the industry caused a change in her employment status; then, Farrar started teaching art students privately in her home studio.
“I really loved it ... I did that for 10 years, and it got to a point where I was turning people away—and I just couldn’t do that anymore. I could only do one person at a time, and I thought that it was time for a brick-and-mortar studio. As much as I wanted to do it 10 years ago, it really wasn’t the time, but now was,” Farrar said.
When it came to choosing a location, Farrar, a Collings Lakes resident, said that she had spent a great deal of time in Hammonton, including as a member of Hammonton Arts Center.
‘I know a lot of artists here. One of my friends is Don Swenson; I’ve known him for years. I told him I was hunting around for places, and he’s the one who told me this place was for rent,” Farrar said.
Soon after, Farrar opened Piney Hollow Arts Studio at 19B Central Ave.
“It’s a gem. They always say, ‘location, location, location.’ This is probably where I should have been from the beginning,” Farrar said.
Farrar said that the studio holds lessons for a number of demographics, notably students who range from 8 years old to college-aged.
“From 8 to 11 years old, I start to introduce them to all the concepts; I give them a very strong foundation in the arts, such as composition, value, attention to detail and perspective drawing. As they’re learning that, they’re also experimenting with different mediums,” Farrar said.
Farrar said that by the time her students reach 11 or 12 years old, they begin to apply those concepts.
“I really work strongly with them, academically. My teaching method is very close to Michelangelo and Da Vinci: you draw what you see, and in order to draw something you have to understand how it’s built, how something moves. They generally move towards their preferred medium by that point, applying those concepts. However, I have to keep them moving in other mediums, too, because 90 percent of my students want to move on into some sort of industry, whether it is interior design, photography or animation ... By high school, they start to build their portfolio, and I help them with that,” Farrar said.
Another demographic that Farrar has found is “women in their late 40s or 50s and older.”
“Most of them are coming because they’re newly divorced, or empty-nesters or they have a loss ... They come for lessons, and, at that point, they’ll start to find their way, and start to figure out some sort of a focus,” Farrar said.
Farrar also holds art journaling groups for adults and teenagers. Art journaling, Farrar said, is an expressive way of putting color and words together to help foster creativity in a relaxing, therapeutic way.
“It’s more of a social/psychological therapy type of group. That is all women—not that men aren’t allowed; they absolutely are, but that tends to be the demographic, for the same reasons. It’s really turned out to be a good thing. It started out on Monday mornings, then I have a group on Monday nights—and that is adults—and I just started a group twice a night on Friday evenings which is an art journaling group for teens,” Farrar said.
Additionally, Piney Hollow Arts Studio holds workshops on a variety of topics.
“My workshops— which tend, for the most part, to be academic—are focused on things that new and seasoned artists tend to need ... I am, in the future, going to bring other artists in to teach as well,” Farrar said.
Farrar said that her rates are “extremely affordable.”
“For a student 8 through college, it’s $25 for two hours. They get to use everything that I have, my supplies. They may be asked to purchase their own canvases and special paper, but they can use my supplies. For adults, it’s $30 for two hours—and they get to use just about everything, too. The art journal group is $10, BYOB—whether it’s coffee or other beverage—and all they have to do is buy their journal, and, again, they’re free to use all my supplies,” Farrar said.
For more information, visit pineyhollowartsstudio.com, find them on Facebook at facebook.com/pineyhollowartsstudio or on Instagram at @pineyhollowarts, or call (856) 237-4044.