The Center for Art and Education in Van Buren brought its Wee Draw Summer art classes to Fort Smith for the first time this week.

The center is expanding its reach to tiny artists far and wide through classes at Brick City Emporium this summer.

"We’ve been really excited," said Jane Owen, CAE executive director. "We have a lot of patrons from Fort Smith … so we decided we would reach into this space. We talked to Brick City … and thought it’d be a good fit. So far, it’s working out really well."

Leslie Scott of Greenwood and her 5-year-old son, Charlie, agreed wholeheartedly.

"The location is wonderful," Scott said. "It’s really nice because it’s centrally located."

Class teacher Sidney Bowman, who will be headed to Arkansas Tech for her freshman year this fall, smiled at the pair.

"I love teaching the little kids because you get to teach them so much," Bowman said. "They don’t really know a lot about colors and shapes, so you get to experience that with them."

Bowman has worked with the CAE summer program for five years.

"I love working here," she said with a grin. "And it’s good for the kids to get out of the house over the summer."

As Bowen passed out primary colored paints, she quizzed students on how to make green, purple and orange.

"In everything we do, we try to teach an element of art," explained Owen. "At this age, you’d be surprised, they really learn a lot. … We really are trying to teach them some very simple things about art and how to look at it."

Reese Ryles spun a blue-coated paint brush in pink water and marveled at its transformation.

"Purple!" he squealed, as his grandmother, Sherry Parker reminded him how the colors combined.

"It’s been proven that kids who engage in arts are more likely to graduate from college," Owen said. "They learn how to use the right and left side of their brain. They’re learning organizational skills and developing the creative side of their brain. It’s a very important part of developing a child."

The Center for Art and Education will host two more Wee Draw classes — from 10:30-11:30 a.m. June 17 and 19 at Brick City Emporium, 3215 S. 74th.

Art-A-Rama camps will be held throughout July both in Van Buren and Fort Smith. For information or to register, visit