New Studio Opens With Focus On Art Therapy

Leaping Into Art is now open in Simsbury, ending Katie Kopcha Claywell's nearly 6-year hiatus of running her own art studio.

Claywell first opened Leaping Into Art in her hometown of Southington in 2009, but closed it in 2012 to focus on graduate school.

Now that she has a master's degree in art and art therapy, Claywell felt it was the right time to return to teaching art classes to children, but this time with the opportunity for art therapy.

Claywell has past experience working in art therapy with people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. It was advice given to her by those patients that inspired her to reopen her studio, even though she just had a baby in August.

"After working full time with these wise elderly patients, they often told me advice," Claywell said. "Those being spend as much time as you can with your kids and also to go for your dreams. The business allows me to do both of those, having flexibility of a schedule while loving what I do."

Art has been part of Claywell's life for as long as she can remember, meaning she can see a little bit of herself in each child that comes into her studio to learn.

"I was quieter when I was younger, so I felt like art was a way to express myself," Claywell said. "I always got lost in the art. In kindergarten, they asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I wrote I wanted to be an artist."

Claywell will offer a variety of classes at her studio, which is located at 924 Hopmeadow St., inside the Simsburytown Shops. Among them are creative art classes for children between the ages of five and seven and between seven and 11, and expressive art for teenagers. She will also offer paint nights for adults.

"It's about encouraging kids to express themselves through fun projects," Claywell said. "You are developing their creativity and life and them as a person."

What she's excited about this time around, though, is the opportunity to do art therapy with people of all ages inside her studio. There will be individual and group sessions. She might give a prompt, like draw your biggest fear or draw what makes you happy.

"There are so many levels of art therapy," Claywell said. "It's not about the technique. We might create art and talk about it and have it relate back to their life. It's about the emotion behind the art and how it relates to you. It's a way to look at something through the perspective of art. You focus on the process and not the product."

When she's done it with people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, art therapy is about memories.

"I want to fill in the missing dots," Claywell said. "Their memories are so scattered. When you draw things on paper, you are able to connect those memories. It's pretty amazing. They always like talking about their memories."

Classes have started at Claywell's new studio, and those interested in looking at the different offerings and schedule should visit her website, katiekopcha.com.

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