For some artists, solitude is essential. Many great works have been the product of the isolated artist, left alone with their creative mind and the absence of outside influence. Without excessive noise and stimulation, they can carefully craft their life’s work. But that’s certainly not the case for the makers at Dandelion Creative Space in Chehalis, where artists and minds are nurtured in a welcoming atmosphere.
A Space to Create in Chehalis
Located in the heart of the downtown in a historic Victorian home, there is no better setting for the communal art studio. During Open Studio hours, the screen doors swing open and shut as friends announce their entrance and join each other at the table, catching up on life and completing their individual art projects. The shelves are packed with an abundance of art supplies, from oil paints to mosaic materials. The ambiance is warm and supportive at Dandelion Creative Space, much like you’d imagine a family home would be.
This creative and familial space is the pride and joy of owner Jennifer Kinsman, who dreamed of having a place for creators to gather and share her passion for the arts for years. “I really wanted a place to feel welcome, and that means everybody,” said Kinsman. “I wanted a place in the community where people could connect.”
With a decade under her belt as a teaching artist and three years as a full-time high school art teacher, in addition to hosting ARTrails tours and theatre camps, Kinsman lives for the arts. “It’s just my life. I love it. It’s an intrinsic thing,” she said.
Art for Kids at Dandelion Creative Space
Yet, in addition to her love of all things art, the space is also dedicated to another passion of hers — family. As a teacher, and mother herself, Kinsman desired to have a place in the community dedicated to artistic exploration and connection for families with Dandelion Creative Space.
“It’s a fluid response to what people are interested in and what the community needs,” said Kinsman. “There’s a big need for families to explore their creativity as well as a positive place for kids to go.”
At Tinker Lab sessions, children ages 6-12 can let their creativity run rampant with their own studio space and unlimited access to materials. At $15 for a two-hour session, young artists can be dropped off and guided under the expertise of in-house artists. Parents are rest assured that their children are in great hands and know that they are having the time of their life while their parents can have a moment to run errands or recharge.
Watching the children grow in confidence and take pride in their creations is a great source of joy for Kinsman. “It’s like a little sparkle in their eye when they realize they’re able to do something,” said Kinsman. “It’s that perseverance that they’re able to develop through art that makes it so important and meaningful to me.”
In addition to the occasional, pre-arranged Tinker Lab, children can also invest in their creative passions daily through the studio’s After School Art Club. Following a long day of school, students can excite and engage different parts of their brains through the process-based art of their choosing. Instead of following strict tutorials or guides, school children can start from scratch and see where their creativity leads them.
A true teacher to the core, Kinsman uses her art to implement child development practices. Whether combining literacy concepts and art during the monthly Family Story Time, Spring Break Theatre Camp or using elements of nature in art pieces for Summer Creative Exploration Camp, every program is designed to support the whole child’s development and encourage a growth mindset.
“There is a lot of power in teaching kids the skills that maybe they haven’t had the experience or accessibility to experience,” said Kinsman. “ Having art is wonderful because it will help them in other ways, like critical thinking skills and thinking outside the box. It activates the brain.”
Offering these programs is highly important to Kinsman, a long-term Lewis County resident. Although excellent youth athletics and dance programs are available in the community, she found that youth art programs were lacking and used her passions to fill in the gaps.
“I feel that creativity is important,” said Kinsman. “ A lot of critical thinking skills are applied, as well as perseverance. You have to be okay with failure. In art, you can’t just Google or copy something. You have to put in that time.”
Art for All at Dandelion Creative Space
For the adults or the kids at heart, Kinsman also provides plenty of opportunities for artistic expression and personal growth. In addition to Open Studio on Saturdays, Dandelion Creative Space hosts classes for beginners to learn new skills. Studio rental space for birthday parties and classes for private organizations are also available.
Since opening the studio in October 2022, Kinsman has seen an outpouring of support for Dandelion Creative Space. The community has reached out with open arms and generous donations.
The act of dedication and love put into the studio is evident, and it doesn’t take long for guests to feel it. “Jennifer loves and invests in people,” said Nicole Notch, guest and fellow ARTtrails artist. “When she says she loves doing it, she means it. You feel it. It’s authentic and genuine.”
While you can find many accomplished artists of all mediums at Open Studio, the space is for all creators of varying levels of artistic ability.
“Don’t be intimidated if you’re ‘not an artist,” said Kinsman. “ Art should be processed-based. It’s about having taken the time to explore your creativity and have fun with the materials. You don’t necessarily need an end product, and it’s actually better that you don’t. We are here to help you.”
Dandelion Creative Space
120 NW Pacific Avenue, Chehalis