Camp and art go together like, well, crayons and coloring books. But sometimes our kids are hankering after a little more than just a coloring sheet or a pile of popsicle sticks and glitter glue. If your family's goals for summer involve more artistic education than LAUSD is able to muster up these days, then one of the camps below is probably for you. If, on the other hand, you had your heart set on sending the kids outside for a summerful of fresh air, be sure to check our suggestions for classic outdoor summer camps and horse riding camps, too - or check our whole camp guide!
Art Center for Kids
Art Center College of Design
950 South Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Ages 9 and up
The Art Center in Pasadena is definitely more art than camp, but for a kid who really loves the fine arts the Art Center College of Design offers some wonderful opportunities. Classes include topics like architecture, cartooning, print-making, fashion sketching, and photography. Each session is one week long and completes a single subject. These are only half days, so it's not necessarily a big help to a working parent, but families with flexible schedules love the depth of instruction.
The Art Grist
4730 Crystal Springs Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Mon-Fri 9am-3pm (aftercare available)
Located in Griffith Park, The Art Grist Art Camp offers eight weeks of artistic exploration under big shady trees, and on sketching hikes through the park. Each week takes on a different in-depth topic - including photography, fashion design, water color, sculpture, and graphic novels - led by teachers from Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts.
14382 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, Ca 91423
Ages 5 and up
Plenty of grown-ups know Art Rebel for its evening events that intersperse art activities with dinner and drinks; it's a favorite among artsy-heartsy Valley parents on date night. Fewer folks may realize that the only-nominally-rebellious studio also offers a great selection in summer art camps. The camps run all summer long in week-long sessions (10 weeks in total), with a different art theme each week; topics include cartooning, fashion, green art, multi-media, and graffiti (ah, that will be where the rebel comes in).
Brentwood Art Center
13031 Montana Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90049
There are summer camps that do a little art; then there are art schools that do a little camp. Brentwood Art Center has a long track record of excellence in art instruction for all ages, and kids who spend a week or three learning from the faculty here definitely expand their fine arts education. Camps run in one- or two-week sessions, with half days for five and six year-olds and full days for ages seven and up. Drawing, painting, sculpting, and print-making are on the syllabus.
4130 Greenbush Ave.
Sherman Oaks, Ca 91423
Mon-Thu 9:30am-12:30pm or 1:30pm-4:30pm
ClayCamp is just what the name implies, with kids plunging gloriously up to their elbows in wet clay, spinning, pinching, and sculpting with abandon. Six sessions are offered over the course of the summer, each two weeks long. Kids ages 6-11 attend the morning session, while ages 11-16 go in the afternoons. And at the end of the day, lots of ceramic masterpieces come home.
KiDazzle Art Studios
1931 N Gaffey Street Suites F & G
San Pedro, CA 90731
Mon-Fri 7am-3pm (extended care available until 6pm)
Feel free to take a moment to rub your eyes and read that again, because, yes, KiDazzle has the best art camp deal in town. Working parents will be particularly agog to learn that the extended day, 7am-6pm schedule, costs only $45 per day. Art lessons, painting, and crafts make up about half the day, with games, field trips, computer time, movies, and even some academics filling in the rest.
McGroarty Arts Center
7570 McGroarty Terrace
Tujunga, CA 91042
McGroarty Arts Center has been running popular and affordable once-a-week art camps for Valley kids for years and is planning to expand into a full-week, summer-long arts camp in 2012. Details are still unfolding; check back here or on the McGroarty website for details as they become available.
1453 14th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Paint Lab is a studio for serious artists - that's seriously fun for kids. Blocks from the beach, this artsy locale is a great place to don a beret and feel the vibe. The sunny rooms are splattered with just enough paint to inspire creativity without inspiring a clean-up, and the walls are bedecked with paintings created by the grown-ups who spend their evenings here sipping wine and talking of Michelangelo. Kids learn real painting techniques, sketching skills, and art theory - but with no stuffiness or lecturing. Paint Lab's teachers really "get" kids and know how to send them out into the world wanting to create more art. A week - or even a day - at this camp is a real treat.
Palos Verdes Art Center
5504 Crestridge Road
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Palos Verdes "Art-rageous" Art Camps offer five or six weeks of programming each summer (as well as on other school holidays and vacations). Each week features a different artistic theme.
12958 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Mon-Fri 9am-3pm (after-care available until 5pm)
What goes on at reDiscover's summer camp might not be fine art in the purest sense of the words, but it sure is creative, and oh-so-worthwhile! The summer program at the Mecca of all things recycled is known as Tinker School, and the tinkering knows no bounds. Kids use real tools and materials to solve real problems, creating articles of wonder out of articles of discard - supervised on a 4:1 teacher/student ratio. You'll be amazed at what kids can create and learn using stuff that big companies were about to throw away.
Be sure to check out our dozen suggestions for kids' cooking camps, too!
Originally published February 2, 2012