Wichita Falls Times Record News

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) On the sidewalk in front of her Brook Village art gallery, Rachel Liles scribbled a line from Picasso in bright yellow chalk.

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up," Liles, the owner and teacher of the How Great Thou Art gallery, said. "I try to use that idea. If we can keep using our imaginations as we're older, life would not be boring."

Liles opened the gallery in October to teach art to kindergartners through third-graders, fourth- to sixth-graders and to women.

During the school year, she teaches at least one class a week, and students may sign up monthly. They look at themes, study artists and complete related projects.

In June, she begins daily summer classes.

Liles introduces students to a variety of media. "We paint with acrylics because it's easy to wash. We draw with charcoal, graphite pencils, watercolor pencils, watercolor crayons. We do collage, and we might even make sculptures out of wire."

Liles believes in art education because it makes children more well-rounded. "If we don't give children those opportunities, it affects our future. Will we have any songs to listen to? Any art to see, movies to watch?"

Children also respond well to making art and enjoy it, she said.

Despite all of the technology that surrounds them, "I find when you put a piece of paper in front of them with a black sharpie, and tell them to draw a self portrait but make yourself have a bad hair day,' they sort of light up.

"It blows me away what imagination they have."

Liles began doing art early. "My mom gave me crayons, and I think I was drawing before I was walking. I've always painted and drawn."

She spent time during the summer with a teacher in Throckmorton, but she pretty much learned on her own.

There wasn't too much to do in Throckmorton, she said.

She later began teaching private art classes and helped a lady who volunteered teaching art in school.

In 2004, she moved with her husband Juston to Wichita Falls when he purchased Pasqual Restaurant.

Two years ago, she started teaching art classes to children of friends in a makeshift studio in her house. It quickly expanded to where she needed a bigger space.

She also teaches a class for women. "It's a little social gathering where the women can find a creative outlet they didn't know was there."

The point for Liles is to teach students how to see life differently and to express themselves.

"I enjoy teaching because I feel like I am helping them. I am giving them an opportunity to come in here and create if they didn't have one already."

Liles was born and raised in Throckmorton. The youngest of four siblings, her mom was a secretary and her father worked in the oil fields.

She and her husband have two children. Noel is in second grade and Gillian is 4. They also have a room for messy art projects.

Growing up, Liles always wanted to do something related to art, but that was always on the back burner. Now, she wants to continue teaching and would love to see it grow bigger.

"I see a need for kids to have a place to do this. If they're not getting to do it at school, or enough there, I would like to provide that."

While she has dabbled in a variety of media, she primarily works in acrylic paint and pastel chalks. She has artwork on display at Pasqual.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.