By CKW Writing Studio Staff
On a cozy Sunday morning, Siaraa Dalai ’s family and her art teacher Carmen Williams and I sit around a spread of pastries and coffee to discuss her art. Carmen and Siaraa have a great teacher-student bond, and Tina is a beaming and proud mother. Siaraa’s brother hoovers around the area playing with his dinosaur toys.
How many 8-year-olds can say that they started art lessons six years ago? When Siaraa was a 2 and a half-year-old toddler attending Princeton Meadow Preschool, her mother Tina noticed that she had a gift. Siaraa also happened to have Carmen as her preschool teacher, a former art therapist, with a degree from NYU. Tina approached Carmen asking if she could give Siaraa art lessons.
Tina said that she thought that introducing Siaraa to art was important for many reasons.
“When the kids do art, it is peaceful and it relaxes them. They don’t get distracted…,”Tina said.
Carmen said it was an exciting prospect to take on Siaraa as a student when the opportunity arose, as she was just getting back into her own art at that time. This agreement between Tina and Carmen set Siaraa set on her current path, which is that of a talented and disciplined elementary school artist.
Your average 2-year-old does not know how to color in the lines, so it is curious to imagine what Siaraa may have started learned as a 2-year-old art student.
Carmen said that they started with a lot of process art.
“We would experiment with different materials,” she said. They used toothbrushes, Q-Tips, and lots of clay.
Next, they started to use children’s books to work on art that revolved around the storybooks. Siaraa chimes in remembering a phase in the lessons in which she was trying to copy nature, like cherry blossoms.
“I still do that now, but more professional,” Siaraa said.
Carmen says that they next started to study artists like Van Gogh.
As her mother Tina intended, Siaraa has learned a great deal over the years. Siaraa said that she had learned patience over the years.
“When I do art lessons…I don’t rush. I can finish the painting the next last class,” she said.
“You learned not to rush,” Carmen reiterate.
Carmen and Siaraa both remember that as the years progressed they worked on all types of methods. They even did a paint party method, found in a book called Painting Party, which Carmen said is not a standard professional art teaching method, yet is a way of painting step-by-step that Siaraa found fun and interesting.
“It relaxes her and she enjoys it. It makes her feel good at the end,” Carmen said.
During the interview, Siaraa brings out examples of her work, including a colorful peacock. She is proud and excited about her paintings.
Her classes are one-hour a week, but she paints every day at home.
“Sometimes I try my own techniques,” she said.
The walls of Siaraa’s home display much of her beautiful work. The living room is filled with years of artwork that she has been doing art since she was 2, which will be on display at the West Windsor Public Library in April. The pictures include flowers, abstract art, and characters.
Siaraa’s enthusiasm and love of art is apparent, as she talks about her continuous commitment to learning art. Yet, she said she is not doing artwork in hopes of becoming an artist, but rather, she said she wants to be a veterinarian/artist who creates the art for her own office one day. She will use her own future dog as a model for some of her artwork, she said.