The Tiny Artist Studio is a special little place tucked away in the back of Massapequa resident Isabelle Rapacciuolo’s home. Once you follow a path into her backyard and down the steps to her classroom, the wonders of art will be yours to master.
Rapacciuolo started the Tiny Artist 16 years ago. Always artistically inclined—she previously worked as a fashion designer/illustrator and a decorating consultant—she first got the idea of starting up her own children’s art studio after finding creativity to be an excellent way to keep her own noisy kids quiet for a spell.
“I’ve dreamed of having an art studio, and this all came about when my daughter was young and she had six loud friends over…I had a migraine at the time, so I gave them paper and charcoal pencils, and they were quiet for 10 minutes. I felt I was onto something,” she said. “The kids took their pictures home and then their parents started to call, all suggesting that this was something I should do. So, that’s how it actually started.”
At the time, Rapacciuolo lived in North Massapequa and taught out of her garage. Soon afterward, she moved to Massapequa and built her own house, and having a specific area cordoned off and designed specially as an art studio was a must, she said. She’s been teaching out of this marvelous space—adorned with easels, craft tables and more—ever since.
The Tiny Artist Studio covers just about every spectrum of creativity that you could think of, but what sets her school apart from others, Rapacciuolo said, is that she instills in her students an understanding of the fundamentals before turning them loose on more complicated projects.
“They have to know the basics, because if you don’t know the basics you can’t move ahead,” she said. “I find that most schools do a lot of tracing or construction paper crafts…they don’t teach them perspective and other important techniques. As for mediums, we work in everything here…pencil, charcoal, acrylic paint and anything else a child wants to do.”
Jessica, 8, has been attending the Tiny Artist for the past three years. She’s always fancied herself as a creative type and when her mother enrolled her in Rapacciuolo’s classes, she said that she’s really gotten to hone her talents.
“I’ve drawn a lot at my house, and then my mom found this place and signed me up,” she said. “I really wanted to come, and since I started I’ve learned how to sketch and learned how to paint better, and I have a great teacher to help me.”
Emma, 7, has been a longtime student of Rapacciuolo’s and credits her teachings with allowing her to truly master the visual subtleties of a certain hard-shelled aquatic mammal through acrylics.
“I never knew how to paint a turtle, but now I do,” she said. “Isabelle is a very nice lady and a great teacher…she helps you a lot.”
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth is a veteran among her peers at the Tiny Artist, having been attending classes there since second-grade. Now, she helps out Rapacciuolo as her assistant and has amassed an impressive personal artistic portfolio herself, despite being visually impaired.
“I started coming here to do crafts on the weekends and I came and started taking drawing and painting classes as well. Here you begin with the basics, such as how to shade and perspective, and you eventually get the freedom to choose what you do on your own,” she said. “This is really beneficial to me because I’m legally blind, so learning this way really helped me establish my own style, learn my strengths as an artist and do better in my school art classes. I also help Isabelle teach different classes and run birthday parties and events.”
For now, despite regular growth and always-full classes—she’s hired assistants and even expanded into Saturdays due to popular demand—Rapacciuolo has no plans to move to a larger studio, although she said that you never know what the future holds. But regardless of that, she said that The Tiny Artist Studio is a dream come true for her.
“It’s fantastic…I love it,” she said. “I love the kids and being able to share my love of art with them and turn them into little artists themselves.”
To find out more about The Tiny Artist Studio, visit www.thetinyartist.com.