We offer non-credit classes, workshops and camps in art, design and film for people of all ages, skill-levels, and backgrounds. The mission of the community education program is to provide a distinctive education that will empower youth, teens and adults to embrace their artistic abilities and give them the tools to pursue a life of creativity. Whether you’re a “first-time artist” interested in trying something new or a professional looking to go deeper in your medium, we look forward to making art with you at Watkins — your place to create!
Classes are taught by talented practicing artists who help students gain an understanding of their chosen medium. Emphasis is placed on both the finished product and the process of thinking, designing, communicating and creating. Young Artists are introduced to art fundamentals through drawing, painting, working with clay and other techniques. Teens learn about past and present artists while expanding upon their artistic skills. Adults have the opportunity to explore areas of specific interest, allowing their creative voice to finally be heard.
Download our 2014 Fall Catalog.
Watkins Community Education is led by Director, Mary Beth Harding and Coordinator, Anna McKeown and employs student assistants and many professional teaching artists.
A Vanderbilt University graduate, Mary Beth has worked with Watkins Community Education for two years. Prior to her work at Watkins, Mary Beth was employed at Sarratt Art Studios and the American Artisan Festival. Anna is a recent graduate of Belmont University where she majored in Studio Arts and worked as an office assistant in the Department of Art. Anna is originally from a small town in southern Illinois where she helped develop a visual arts component to the town’s non-profit children’s arts organization, Artstarts. Both women have a passion for providing creative educational opportunities to all members of Nashville’s diverse and growing population.
Mary Beth Harding, Director 615.277.7456
Anna McKeown, Coordinator 615.277.7455
More information on our teaching artists can be found here.
In 1885, the State of Tennessee received a special gift that would forever change education and the arts in Nashville: $100,000 and a parcel of land at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Church Street, Samuel Watkins, an orphan who later built a fortune in the masonry business, designated this gift in his will to build a school that would strengthen the city. The resulting school, Watkins Institute, evolved into one of the finest community-oriented education facilities in the region. For 120 years, Watkins’ role has been flexible, addressing the unmet educational needs of Nashville.
Today, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film is an independent institution dedicated to providing education in the visual arts. It is held in trust by the state of Tennessee and is privately supported. In keeping with the vision of its founder, Samuel Watkins, the College believes in providing its students with a solid, practical education that prepares them for careers in the arts. It is an institution that values service to the community and seeks to be a resource for the community. In this role, Watkins offers non-degree arts education in addition to the college curriculum.
Where are you located?
Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd (formerly metrocenter) just minutes from downtown Nashville.
Where do I park? Is there a cost?
There is a free parking lot in the front of our building.
What is appropriate attire?
Students should wear comfortable clothing for working in. Some materials used in class may stain clothing. With this in mind, a smock or apron may be necessary. For safety reasons no roller skates or shoes with wheels embedded into the soles are allowed.
What if I have to miss a class? Can the tuition be pro-rated?
We understand that absences do happen. Because these are non-credit classes, students do not receive a grade nor are they penalized for absences. However, instructors are not obligated to provide make-up time. We do not pro-rate tuition for missed classes.
Can I purchase gift certificates for community education classes?
Yes! Gift certificates can be purchased by contacting the Community Education office at (615) 383-4848
How can I get in touch with my instructor?
It is our policy not to give out contact information for our instructors. However, you may email or call our office and we will gladly relay a message to your instructor and have him/her get in contact with you.
What is your attendance policy in the event of a flu outbreak or other pandemic:
Youth who attend a school that has been closed due to illness/outbreaks will not be allowed in Watkins young artists program classes. If a large number of students or teachers in the young artists program are out due to illness the director may elect to cancel class(es). Teachers who teach at a school that has been closed due to illness/outbreaks will not be allowed to teach classes. Youth and adult students will be encouraged to use sound judgment and not attend class if they feel ill. Please contact our offices at (615) 383-4848 for more details on our illness policies.
How do I register?
It’s easy! Register online here or we accept registrations by mail, fax or phone.
Is your online registration secure?
Yes! Our site uses SSL technology to ensure that your credit card and personal are transmitted safely. While on the registration page, you should notice a locked padlock icon displayed on the bottom right corner.
Is there a registration deadline? How late can I register?
The registration deadline is typically two weeks prior to the first day of class. If there is availability registrations may still be accepted as late as the first day of class, but by waiting you run the risk of the class either being full or being cancelled due to lack of enrollment.
Is there a waiting list for classes that are full?
Yes! In the event that a class is full we will put your name on a waiting list. If a space opens up in the class, the persons on the waiting list will be contacted in the order they are received.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Mastercard, Visa, checks, money orders and cash are accepted.
Can I make a deposit and pay the rest later?
Full payment for tuition and fees is due at the time of registration.
What happens if my class doesn’t make?
Classes may be cancelled or combined if a minimum enrollment of 5 students is not met at least one week before the class begins. Students will be informed of cancellations prior to the first day of class so that alternative plans may be made and full refunds will be issued.
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Refunds requested one week or more prior to the first day of class will be refunded 100% of tuition and fees, less a $25 processing charge. Classes dropped seven days or less prior to the beginning of class will be refunded at a 60% tuition rate, less a $25 processing charge. No tuition or fees will be refunded beginning the first day of class.
What do I need to bring the first day?
Unless otherwise indicated, orientations are offered the first night of class to discuss course syllabi and supply lists. We recommend that you bring paper and a pen or pencil for taking notes.
Are supplies included?
Unless otherwise noted, students are responsible for acquiring their own supplies. A supply list and syllabus will be provided the first night of class. Some classes may require an additional material or lab fee.
Where do I find my classroom?
All of our studios, labs and classrooms are conveniently located in one main building. There is a receptionist at the main entrance and on the first night of class signs will be posted to direct you to your classroom.
How many students will be in the class?
The typical class size is 5 -15 students.
Do you offer scholarships or financial assistance?
At this time we do not provide scholarships or financial assistance for ACE classes.
Do I have access to labs or studios outside of class time?
Community Education students are limited to working in studios or labs only when the instructor is present.
Can I check out books from the Watkins Library?
Community Education students are welcome to browse our wonderful Library, but circulation privileges are for degree -seeking students only. If you find you have some time before class and would like to read in the library you are welcome to use their comfortable lounge areas.
How many students will be in the class?
The typical class size is 5 -15 students.
How many teachers will be in class?
One teacher is assigned to each class. Other staff personnel are available to assist classes as needed.
Are materials provided?
Yes! All the materials for your child’s/teen’s class will be provided. Some classes may have an extra materials or lab fee.
Do you have a before/after care program?
Due to space and staff limitations, at this time we do not provide before or after care. Promptness in dropping off and picking up your child/teen is necessary and appreciated. A 15-minute grace time may be granted with permission from the Director. Any time beyond the 15 minutes grace time accrues a charge of $1 per minute.
How early can I drop off my child/teen for class?
Due to space and staff limitations we start accepting students no earlier than 15 minutes prior to class time.
Is lunch care provided?
Lunch care is provided for students, but students must bring their own lunches.
Do you provide a snack or lunch?
Students are responsible for bringing their own healthy snacks and lunches. A vending machine is also available.
Where do I take my child/teen when I first arrive?
Students assemble in Watkins’ theatre, Room 500, immediately prior to and following class. Parents should sign their child/teen in and out on the dismissal roster before and after class each day. Students being picked up by an adult other than a parent should bring a signed and dated note indicating so. If a student utilizes public transportation or drives themselves a signed and dated note must be provided giving permission for Watkins to release the student from our care.
Can I stay in the classroom with my child/teen?
To ensure a safe environment that is conducive to learning we do not allow anyone in the classroom other than registered students, teachers and community education staff.
Do you offer scholarships or financial assistance?
We do offer a limited number of scholarships each semester for young artists ages 5-18. Click here for more information.
Do you offer any discounts?
Yes! We offer sibling discounts. Simply type “Sibling” into the discount code box at checkout.
Can I register my child in a class for older students?
We design our curriculum so that learning objectives and class projects are targeted for specific age levels. To register for a class, the child needs to have reached the minimum age prior to the first day of class.
Sam Angel B.F.A., Watkins College of Art, Design, & Film
Sam earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in 2012. She currently works as a freelance photographer in the Nashville area. Sam works with local photographers such as Mark Tucker and Caroline Allison. While specializing in Fine Art photography, she has a passion for a variety of photographic mediums.
Laura Baisden creates artwork about animals and the great outdoors using a relief printing process called linocut reduction. She carves the images from a linoleum block one color at a time and prints them in layers to achieve the end result. When she’s not doing her own artwork on the side, she works at Hatch Show Print in downtown Nashville– printing and designing posters.
B.A., The University of Tennessee
Gloria Ballard is a native of Nashville, where she enjoyed a long career in journalism as a feature writer and editor at The Tennessean before leaving the newspaper business to become a freelance writer. During her career, she covered fashion, home design, gardening, travel and other features, and was travel editor at The Tennessean from 1998 until 2006. Currently, Gloria writes a monthly garden column for The Tennessean, garden and travel features, stories and essays, maintains two garden blogs, and leads creative writing workshops and gardening presentations. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. Gloria also writes fiction, and was a 2004 participant at Sewanee Writers Conference. Her fiction has been published in Drafthorse literary journal.
Mary Gwyn Bowen
Nursing, Excelsior College
B.F.A., Corcoran College
M.A., University of Florida
Mary Gwyn Bowen is an artist, registered nurse and art instructor. In her art, she focuses on a special place in her life translated onto canvas in oil. As a registered nurse, Mary Gwyn is concerned with art’s role in healthcare. She is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA), the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). Mary Gwyn is a former fellow in the Evidence Based Nursing Practice Fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she completed a research project using art in the cardiac rehabilitation process. She recently presented a poster of the Art to Heart research project at Nursing Research Day at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Tennessee Hospital Association’s annual conference. She will be presenting the poster to the University Hospital Consortium annual conference in Atlanta in October and research findings at the National Art Education Association’s annual conference in March 2014. Her art has shown in festivals, galleries, and is in private collections.
B.A., Tennessee State University
Christopher Cheney is a working artist who exhibits regularly in Nashville at well regarded art spaces such as Art & Invention Gallery, Janet Levine March Gallery, Belcourt Theatre Gallery, and Lequire Gallery Annex. Cheney apprenticed at Hatch Show Print , a letterpress print shop, designing and reproducing letterpress posters and wood/linoleum carving. Cheney began his career as an art educator with the City Museum in St. Louis, MO. Chris and business partner Nieves Uhl recently opened Sawtooth Printhouse, a letterpress/silk screen/design studio located in East Nashville, Tennessee.
Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, BFA
Michael is an illustrator with a focus on digital art and media. His primary applications include Photoshop CS6, Corel Painter and Google Sketchup. His work is applied to book illustrations, visual development for movies and games, storyboarding, plein air, landscape, and portrait paintings. He is excited to teach his first class with Watkins Community Education.
MFA Candidate, Savannah College of Art and Design
BS, Lambuth University
BS, Union University
Dallas’ career has involved interior design and project management, as well as undergraduate interior design instruction. With a special passion for items related to architectural history, her background has included work as a furniture and decorative arts preservationist.
B.F.A, Belmont University
Originally from Memphis, Anna came to Nashville to Belmont University where she received her BFA in Painting. A majority of her work is centered on the human form. Teaching begins with learning your self and as a figure model for many years, she learned her subject from the inside out. This can be applied to all of her disciplines and she thinks it is an honor to pass this knowledge on to you.
Bob Giordano has had an active role in the Tennessee Screenwriters Association (TSA), serving as the President in 1998 and co-creating the Script Development Program which assists writers in developing their screenplays from concept to completion. In 1997 Mr. Giordano received an honorable mention at the Nashville Independent Film Festival for writing, directing and producing his short film Blind Spot. In 2002, he won the Hollywood Symposium Contest for his feature-length script Grendel and in 2001 was the winner of the Writer’s Network Screenplay competition for the feature-length script Resistance.
B.F.A., University of Georgia
Katie Gonzalez first studied the art of bookmaking in Cortona, Italy during the summer of 2006. Visiting a medieval bindery, working with luxurious materials, and learning to make paper by hand instilled a sense of traditional techniques into her work. She combines that background with her contemporary graphic design degree. Katie runs her own bindery, linenlaid&felt, creating one-of-a-kind journals, photo albums, guest books, and artist’s books. She lives and works in East Nashville with her husband and her brindle bullmastiff.
B.F.A., University of Georgia
Heinsohn has shown repeatedly in group shows at Allan Stone Gallery, most notable of which was the Summer Group Show of 1995 where he was included along with Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and other historically important painters. Recently he received the ” Critic’s Pick ” From The Nashville Scene, as well as a feature in the Tennessean, for his solo exhibit at Estel Gallery in Nashville. In 2010 his work was shown at Preston Contemporary Art Center in New Mexico and at The Lowe Gallery in Atlanta and featured in Nashville Arts Magazine. Heinsohn was also selected to teach a workshop in conjunction with the ” Modern Masters ” abstract painting exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum at Cheekwood Art and Gardens in Nashville.
M.A., New York University
Allison Jarrett is an artist educator with a passion for the handmade. She returns to her hometown of Nashville after living and working in New York City for two years. During this time, she developed her artistic practice while completing her Masters in Art Education at New York University. Her work explores traditional craft techniques and their intersection with personal narratives of family, tradition, and humor. She has taught a wide variety of art media to students ages 4-20, and is eager to join the burgeoning art and educational community in Nashville.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A.
Christina King has experience teaching art in a wide variety of settings and to all ages. She has taught at public schools, Montessori schools, private schools, arts centers, and museums, most notably the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Christina has exhibited her art in galleries both in North Carolina and in Washington DC, and is enjoying getting to know the Nashville arts community. Her most recent work combines photography and collage, but she also enjoys painting, papermaking, and learning new processes.
Shawn Krise has been a working, selling and teaching artist for over 30 years in and around Nashville. She teaches most any media but specializes in drawing and painting methods and concepts that extend beyond the particular medium. Shawn holds a BS in Art Education and has written and facilitated art programs for such organizations as Girl Scout Council of Middle Tennessee, Senior Citizens, Inc., and Metro Parks and Recreation. She has also had an extensive career as a commercial illustrator/graphic artist as well as her ongoing work as a commissioned portrait painter.
B.F.A., East Texas State University
M.F.A., Texas A&M University
Rob McClurg received his M.F.A in Ceramics from Texas A&M University. He began teaching in 1986 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago spending many years teaching various ceramics, firing and kiln building techniques. Mr. McClurg later began teaching at Oxbow School of Painting in Michigan, where he also the coordinated the ceramics program. He is currently an adjunct instructor at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film teaching both ceramics and 3D design. In addition to teaching Mr. McClurg shows his fine ceramics at galleries such as Sarratt and Ruby Green Contemporary Art Center.
Savannah College of Art & Design, M.A., Illustration Design
Middle Tennessee State University, BFA, Graphic Design
Mike Meredith is a digital illustrator specializing in children’s markets. Mike has been working in the Nashville area for the past 25 years starting as a caricature artist at Opryland Theme Park. Mike has worked in Web and Graphic Design, Illustration and Education.
B.F.A., Appalachian Center for Craft
Certificate, College of the Redwoods
Stephan is a woodworker and object-maker living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his training at the Appalachian Center for Craft where he received a BFA in furniture design. He continued his training at the College of the Redwoods, where he earned a certificate under the direction of Michael Burns, Greg Smith, Jim Budlong and Eijler Hjorst-Westh—who were themselves graduates of the same program under direction of founder James Krenov. He received his MFA from East Carolina University in 2011.
B.A., Vanderbilt University
M.Ed., The Ohio State University
Over the last five years, Carmen’s art making experiences have been varied ranging from abstract paintings, to experimentation with video art, to a stop motion installation show at Vanderbilt’s Space 204. She has spent the majority of the past five years in a classroom setting starting, developing, and teaching in the art program at LEAD Academy Charter School. She currently works with high schoolers in Art I, II, and III and am developing the Art IV and AP Art curriculum. What she enjoys most about teaching is also what she enjoys most about making art: developing and exploring complex ideas.
B.F.A, Rhode Island School of Design
M.Ed., Arcadia University
Amanda Penecale is a creative storyteller and educator. Her media includes photography, illustration, songwriting, and digital art. Amanda enjoys self-publishing photo books, creating imagery for her music, and working as a freelance illustrator and designer. She is a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and also holds a Masters in Education. She has taught in public schools in Pennsylvania, through the Young Artists Workshop at Moore College of Art, and most recently at a private school in the Hudson Valley, NY. Amanda loves the natural world, yoga and her Brittany spaniel Lyra.
Angelique is a fine art photographer working mainly in alternative processes, and more specifically a process call mordançage. She has been teaching in Nashville for the past four years, and has taught all levels of darkroom photography, alternative process, digital photography, the history of photography and photographic theory, as well as some lighting.
B.F.A, Art Institute of TN–Nashville
B.B.A., Tennessee State University
Andrew is a designer at Robin’s Nest Interiors in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where he practices commercial and residential design. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from The Art Institute of Tennessee – Nashville, and he has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Tennessee State University.
B.A., University of Virginia
M.F.A., East Carolina University
Sanford is a watercolor painter who was seduced by the book arts and now creates watercolor sculptures. She has been teaching art for more than twenty years and is currently an instructor at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film in Nashville. Her many awards include First Place in both the Tennessee and Kentucky Watercolor Society Exhibitions. Museum collections containing her paintings include the Evansville Museum of Arts and Science, the Tennessee State Museum and the Parthenon. Publications include Maxine Masterfield’s Painting the Spirit of Nature and the exhibition catalog for Pop-up Now.
A native Nashvillian, Lauren Taylor has been sewing for most of her life. She is self-taught, a lover of fine fabrics, and enjoys the challenge (and reward!) of making her own clothing.
2298 Rosa Parks Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37228
Mary Beth Harding, Director 615.277.7456
Anna McKeown, Coordinator 615.277.7455
Join our e-mail list for news and updates about our programs!
Approximately three months before the start of a “term” (spring, summer, or fall) we will post a “Call for Course Proposals” and corresponding “Course Proposal Forms” to be filled out by interested instructors. Only those who complete the forms by the marked deadline will be considered to teach our courses. If you have questions about filling out the forms, please contact Mary Beth Harding at [email protected]
Call for Spring 2015 Proposals: Important information about teaching with CE.
Spring 2015 Course Proposal Form: For new teachers and teachers proposing new classes.
Spring 2015 Veteran Course Proposal Form: For current teachers wanting to re-teach a current class.
“Watkins is always a good place to learn and grow.”
“I haven’t taken an art class in years and really enjoyed revisiting my creative side with great people!”
“The class was so much fun and the instructor was great!”
“I simply wish I could have taken the class longer! I look forward to taking the next class at Watkins in the next session.”
“The class was challenging, but easy enough to have fun. I think we were all pleased with what we produced.”
“Weekend options are great for those who have a busy weekday schedule or come from out of town.”
“I loved every part of this camp.”
“Excellent program all around. My son had a fantastic time and learned a lot!”
“My child really liked the stop-motion animation during the spring intersession!”
“The times were convenient. My older child did well with the 7 hour day.”