teen art museum

Teens at Milwaukee Art Museum Photo By Nate Pyper

The art of entertaining


One of the many fun things about parenting tweens and teens is watching them try new things and develop new skills. When you can practice those skills along with them, even better!


We’re lucky in southeastern Wisconsin to have a host of great places to express ourselves artistically – whether or not we have a lot of artistic talent. Here’s a quick summary of hands-on art experiences and classes for your tween or teen and you.


Milwaukee Art Museum


Kohl’s Corporation has made a major investment in making the visual arts more accessible to young people. You can stop in the Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery on the main floor of the MAM to discover the role of paintings and sculptures in animated films, including some of Disney’s classics. You can even try your hand at making a short animated film.


The Kohl’s Generation Art Lab at the museum teaches your kids of all ages about what goes on behind the scenes at a museum. Kids can X-ray a painting or change the frames on works of art to get a feel for what it’s like to be a curator.


Kohl’s Art Generation Studio is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 to 4 for kids of all ages to create artwork that reflects a monthly theme. It’s a great activity for a family that has both tweens and younger children.


In the MAM’s Youth Studio Painting Class (for ages 6-10 and 11-15), students get their artistic inspiration right in the galleries, sketching out their favorite portraits. Back in the studio, they finish their masterpieces with watercolors of various types and acrylic paint. Fall classes begin in the middle of October. For more information, go to mam.org/learn/classes/php.


Painting and Drawing


Putting a brush to canvas may sound daunting if you try it at home, but there are classes that lead you step-by-step through the process – culminating in a beautiful finished painting for your home.


Don’t let the name fool you, Arté Wine and Painting Studio (in the historic village of Wauwatosa and on Wells Street in Delafield) is all about the painting during family painting classes on Saturdays at 11 a.m. The paintings are easy enough for children and interesting enough for the parents painting along. Check their website (artewineandpaint.com) to choose a class and make reservations.


Healing Forest Studio, on Clinton Street in downtown Waukesha, offers a variety of choices for tweens and teens, from scheduled classes to one-time workshops. Their Afternoon Kids Program is a 1-1/2 hour workshop for ages 6-11 that features not only an art project, but a little lesson in art appreciation. See healingforeststudio.com for details.


Artist and Display on Burleigh in Milwaukee is a Parents’ Picks winner and has been voted the best art class in Milwaukee. There traditional classes are for ages 8-13 and feature in drawing, painting, and charcoal, ink and pastel. Go to artistanddisplay.com for more information and schedules.


The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts off Capitol Drive in Brookfield offers a number of unique classes and workshops for children as young as 5 and teens up to age 18. Titles include watercolor painting, pop-art portraits, drawing from nature, handmade paper kites and chalk animation. Check out Wilson-center.com/explore/classes for a full fall schedule.




Glaze-your-own pottery shops have been around a long time, but you may not have thought to take your tween there yet. Most have pre-cast ceramic pieces for you and your budding potter.


La Terraza bills itself as Wisconsin’s original paint-your-own-pottery studio, and it has indeed been charming tweens for many years. Walk-ins are welcome and the fee for children is just $3 plus the cost of the bisque piece they paint. The price includes all supplies and firing in the kiln. Visit potteryfun.com for more information.


Creative Fire, on North Avenue in Wauwatosa, offers an opportunity to learn and practice wheel-thrown and hand-built clay techniques. During the school year, families are welcome to drop in for open studio time or sign up for classes for 6- to 8-year-olds and 9- to 17-year-olds. Check creativefirepottery.com for more information.


Murray Hill Pottery Works on Murray Avenue on Milwaukee’s East Side offers family classes, kids classes and birthday parties in addition to open studio time. Their specialty is helping kids make cups and dishes they can proudly use at mealtime. Check their website (murrayhillpottery.com) for studio hours and class information.


The Potter’s Shop on Main Street in downtown Waukesha offers five-week after-school classes to introduce tweens and teens to the pottery wheel. They also offer try-it classes and birthday parties and couples’ date night events. Go to potteryinwaukesha.com to see the menu of options.


Glaze Pottery on Green Bay Road in Thiensville offers you and your kids the opportunity to glaze bisque pieces, sculpt in clay, make Lilly Ollo silver clay jewelry and even try glass fusing. It’s a very kid-friendly environment (although you might want to try an evening out with your friends at a Wine & Dezign glazing session). Check out glazepottery.com for details.


This just scratches the surface of ways to explore your craftiness as a family. You might also consider learning to make beaded jewelry together or take a knitting class —although your teen might pass on the idea of making matching scarves. With cold weather approaching, now’s a great time to get creative.


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