Donald Jackson is a contemporary artist living and working in Chicago’s Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood for the past 22 years. First and foremost, though, he is a dad. After noticing the specific artistic and communicative developments of his own young son through exposure to the visual arts, the most natural thing for this dad to do was to open an art studio for children. And, thus, Color Wheel Studio was born.
Neoteric Art: What inspired you to start Color Wheel Studio?
Donald Jackson: I started Color Wheel Studio in 2010 when my son started preschool. I got to see first hand how bad the schooling of the arts have become in our school systems. As if not having art in school is deplorable enough, the way that it is being approached and taught in schools that do provide it both disgusted and amazed me. Of course I am not talking about every school and every art teacher, there are shining stars out there. But the approach of art class being “fun” or “creative” time has been engrained in our schools as well as the training of Art Teachers for an incredibly long time now.
Outside of being an artist for most of my life, my other obsession is developmental psychology and how the brain works. I’ve been studying this for just as long as I’ve been studying and practicing in the arts. Despite popular belief, people are not solely a right or left brain learner, left brain is for school and right brain is for creative/play time, but the whole brain is being used all the time. What I do at Color Wheel Studio is teach to the whole brain, developing the parts that deal with abstract concepts and I use the fine arts as the vehicle. FYI math, science and the languages are all abstract concepts.
Realizing that I had a unique understanding of the arts and the brain, and knowing I cannot change the school system, I figured I would teach the kids myself. So I turned my working studio into Color Wheel Studio. I wanted the children to see how the whole process works. How an art studio is run and how real artwork is developed. The children get to see my actual work all the way from a concept (in all it’s forms), through all of its stages to a finished piece. They work beside all of my painting, prints and sculptures as they are taught how to see and understand themselves and the world around them.
This is an experience a child could not get anywhere else. I know my approach works and I wanted to spread that knowledge to as many people as I can while I can. Art and teaching is about sharing and my job as an artist is to share my gift any way I can. Color Wheel Studio is my gift to the little ones hoping they can put the future on a better path.
Top image: Art Summer Camp at The Color Wheel Studio: Calder