Kevin Reardon was just 12 and a sixth-grader at Bull Run Elementary, this spring, when he drew a realistic-looking charcoal portrait of his 80-year-old grandpa, Gerald Crossan.
He did so under the tutelage of art teacher Margaret Meade of Centreville's Sully Station community. He took classes, Tuesday evenings, for two hours and, said Kevin, "It took me six lessons to do."
He's studied art with her for three years now, with impressive results. "I just drew around, and my mom thought I had talent, so she put me in the class," said Kevin. He likes doing faces best and said Meade taught him that "eyes and noses are the most important things. If you don't get every detail right, it won't look like the person you want it to be."
Kevin was among the 81 students, ages 4-17, and eight adults (including his mother) who displayed their works in the eighth annual Meade's Art Studio art show, May 31-June 1, in the Sully Station Community Center. A vast array of subjects in a variety of media reflected each student's best work.
Meade teaches children in her home, weekdays, afternoons and evenings, and adults, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-noon. Tuition is $125/month, plus a once yearly materials fee of $25; call 703-802-6243.
"Classes are in her basement, and the atmosphere is soothing and nice," said Braddock Ridge's Pam Fisne, whose daughter Kelly, 10, takes lessons. "She gives them hot chocolate and plays classical music."
HER HUSBAND Rich Fisne said Meade is patient and "lets the kids progress at their own level, but she also challenges them." And he's pleased that she lets them experiment with different techniques — pastels, watercolor, pencil, acrylics — to see what they do best. Because she doesn't focus on one, particular medium or subject, he said, "They get a broad range of experience."
Kelly's studied with her, a few years, and said she's always honest. "If you make a mistake, she tells you to start over," she said. "If you're going to put a lot of work into something, she wants you to do it right." Kelly's learned not to press too hard with a pencil and that colors should be blended.
Her painting for the show was a bowl of pink roses. "I like flowers, and I'm just getting into faces," she said. "Mrs. Meade helps you do details. I like seeing my work when it's done and how you can be proud of yourself."
Standing by Kevin's portrait of his grandfather, his mother, Hilda Reardon of Xanadu Estates, also sang Meade's praises. "This is a woman who can truly recognize talent," she said. "She also brings it forth — it's amazing." Reardon's daughter Michaela, 9, takes lessons, as well, and had two watercolors in the show.
"Mrs. Meade has a gentle manner with the children and is encouraging — they're like her children," said Reardon. "She's someone you want them to be around. I was so impressed with what my children did, that I joined, too, in March."
Reardon even had four pieces in the show — still lifes of subjects including an old porcelain jug, pomegranates and a goblet. "We've had such a tremendous experience, we've asked all our friends to come paint with us," she said. "They can't get this is school — a piece of [Meade] goes into every child's art."
Carmen Delehanty, 13, just graduated from Rocky Run Middle and has taken art classes two years. "I've always loved art, ever since I was little, and I was so excited to find Mrs. Meade," she said. "My favorite medium is acrylic [paint] because you can be more free with it. Pastels are fun, too."
She likes painting landscapes, especially ones with water scenes, and she had four paintings in the show — a portrait, landscape, flowers and a pencil drawing of a little girl. Calling Meade a "great teacher," Carmen said, "She makes you realize things in paintings that you wouldn't have noticed before. For example, you see brown in a painting, but she makes you use a lot of different shades to make that brown."
SHE ALSO ENJOYS Meade's classes because it affords her an oasis of serenity in a fast-paced world. "You can just relax and paint," said Carmen. "And she really does teach you how to draw and how to become better at painting."
Stone Middle art teacher Kate Sternberg attends Meade's student art show, every year, because many of her own students are in Meade's classes and she likes to see their work. "When they come to Stone, her kids are very disciplined in the way they work and they do really well in class," she said.
Then, said Sternberg, "We take these work habits and their talent and pull the creativity out. They go further than students who haven't had this background, and many have gone on to win art awards and honors — in the school system and nationally."
Leo Bauza, 15, of Fair Oaks, has studied under Meade for three years. "My mom found her and wanted me to take art," he said. "She's involved with each student. She teaches you to observe and try not to copy something, but to use your imagination to create it."
He likes working in pastels and acrylics and doing landscapes — especially mountains. "I'd definitely recommend her classes to others," he said. "It's probably the most relaxing part of my day, you get to meet new people and you really take pride in what you do."