MOMMY ON BOARD - Kristalle Marie Garcia-Kekert (The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2012 - 12:00am

Having a huge passion for art, 26-year old Maria Anna "Hannah" Martinez started an enrichment program called Artastic in May 2012, a program that teaches and introduces children to the world of creativity. The very first student art exhibit was recently held at the Banilad Town Centre in Cebu City featuring the works of Aza Coloma, Aldred Gam, Dior Gothong, Ieia Valenzuela, Lucas Sarmiento, Mateo Lacson and Zion Eteve.

With a current total of 16 students between ages 3 and 10, this culminating activity truly made a wonderful exposure for the children involved. "When my students saw their art work on display, I know that it made them proud. Giving them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, this display was also a treat for my students for a job well done".

Hannah has always been inspired by art ever since she was a little girl. "My earliest memories are that of watching my mom (who also happens to be an amazing artist and chef) make beautiful paintings in our home. My mom has and will always be my biggest art critic as well as my greatest mentor. Apart from that, I have also been greatly influenced by my older sister Francesca "Chez" who is also a wonderful artist", she says. "When we were growing up, our parents didn't really encourage us to watch a lot of television or play video games, so I had to rely on my imagination to entertain myself. This was when I often turned to art, which eventually became an indispensable outlet for me to express myself".

Though an HRM graduate, Hannah found that her real passion in life is art and not anything in relation to the hotel industry. But the idea of Artastic actually came from Hannah's boyfriend, Lorenz Florendo. He said to her one day, "Why don't you teach art to kids?" This was after being pressured to find work after graduating and her fear of being financially cut-off from her parents to help her learn to be independent.

The Artastic program teaches children the basics in art through watercolour and acrylic painting, different crafts, drawing, mixed media and much more. "I also base my activities on children's literature, nature and just about anything that I think they can benefit from".

Holding classes in her home studio, Hannah shares that she holds informal classes with her students but with a set of house rules to follow. "It is very child-friendly and conducive to learning, very much like a classroom", she says. "Divided by age group with three different schedules throughout the week, my art classes are two hours long and we usually have one or two activities per session depending on the pace of my students. These activities incorporate topics such as art movements, art history and important figures in a fun and enjoyable way".

Allowing children to be creative, Hannah exposes her students to a lot of different mediums and materials. Her favourite medium is oil on canvas and also charcoal but recently started using acrylic on wood panels. "We have worked with water colour and acrylic paint, oil, pastels, crayons, paper mache and even recycled materials found in the household", she shares. "I try my best to show my students that art can be made with anything, that you just have to use your imagination".

Hannah normally plans each lesson in advance and thinks that this is the best way to do so. "Sometimes, I have to make adjustments as the weeks go by, by planning lessons in advance. I base my class activities on the life and work of famous artists such as Picasso, Miro, Warhol, Klimt and many more", she says. "I also share with my students some award winning children's books and have them create something taken from them. We've also had some activities inspired by nature and different cultures taken from around the globe".

Hannah has just started with her second batch of art class students and is hoping that this can be something she can carry on with for the months or years to come.

To find out more about Artastic, you can email Hannah at h.aseniero.martinez or check for more information.

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