ACA arts classes will open in September

Allegheny Center for the Arts (ACA) will offer a new year of art classes beginning Sept. 3 and Sept. 23. Most teachers and classes from the last year will continue.

ACA will offer digital photography (beginner, intermediate and advanced), drawing on the right brain, acting for youth and adults, watercolor, chip carving, ukulele for beginners and not so beginners, and guitar basics. Most classes are held in six-week sessions. Persons interested in taking classes can find a registration form on line at

Ron Keeney will offer a class in intermediate photography. This will be a six-week course one night per week focusing mostly on how to use an SLR manual or adjustable camera (digital). The class will cover important issues like exposure settings, ISO, shutter speeds, f-stops, aperture, focal point, focusing (manual vs auto), lens comparisons (zoom, telephoto, stock, closeup, etc.), quality vs. convenience, light, filters, and flash issues. It will also cover composition “rules” and issues such as the “rule of thirds.” No information will be offered on photo software. Students will be expected to bring in a digital camera with adjustable or manual controls.

Ron says, “there is nothing that beats hands-on learning in a course like this.” Later in the year, Ron would like to offer workshops in other areas of photography. He loves the challenge of helping people learn how to operate their cameras to bring life to the image they see before them.

Elissa Davis, a graduate of IUP in music education, will offer two classes: Young ukulele will help ukulele players learn how to make this happy sounding instrument come alive and how to play with a group. There will be a separate class for beginners. The intent of this class will be to help each player feel good about learning a new instrument. A ukulele group called “HULA” meets on second and fourth Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Players in this kind of group need to at least know the basics and have a desire to have fun with each other as they learn how to play together.

Elissa says, “I love teaching music because music reaches into the heart of a person and is a universal language which can bring people together.”

Carla Melkonian will offer a nine-week class called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” an art class designed to help people use the right side of their brains. It works with any person who wants to be more creative. This would also be good for a person in the business world who wants to work outside of their current way of thinking. Carla spent most of her adult life working in the Warren County School District as an art teacher. She is a tai chi teacher as well. Carla loves helping people use their energy in different ways than they are used to.

Lou Cable will teach acting for youth and acting for adults with six persons in each class. She has been on stage herself with Warren Players and has directed many times. Her most recent was Warren Players comedy, “Harvey.” Lou loves creating characters herself and enjoys helping others learn how to create a character. Lou will also offer a class in mosaic beading in which students will learn to create a unique mosaic bead project using seed beads. Lou said she has been a crafter all her life as she is an original coal miner’s daughter. Lou knows what it’s like to not have enough money for Christmas presents and beading mosaic teaches a skill that can be used to make presents for anyone of any age.

Ben Johnson will offer guitar basics. Ben was born and raised in Oklahoma and began playing guitar in eighth grade. He recorded a CD with his high school band, “Sweet Potatoes,” in 2001 and continued playing guitar and writing songs through college. He moved to Warren in 2011 and started teaching at the ACA that fall. He has enjoyed helping students get a start in learning how to play a guitar.

Don Reed will again offer his class on chip carving, a Scandinavian art form. A minimum of three students are needed. Students will learn basic carving skills, refine techniques, and complete a simple project. Don loves looking for designs of this form, drawing them, and then creating them in wood. He says, “I want to pass this part of my heritage on to people who love to carve and take their work to another level.”

Jessica Shoemaker McElhaney will offer “Creative Collages: Mixed Media, Graphic Design & the World of Visual Culture,” and “Introduction to Watercolor.” Jessica is an art teacher for the Warren County School District. She loves art and the way it can help people see the world around them differently. Jessica has been teaching art and computer for the school district for five years. She has a bachelor of science degree in art education and a bachelor of fine arts degree in applied media arts graphics design. She received her masters of arts degree in art education from Boston University. She is currently on the board for the Crary Art Gallery and a member of the Warren Art League. Jessica says, “Art is a creative and engaging experience. Teaching art is such a rewarding experience because it shows a student’s artistic process and develops critical thinking and problem solving skills. I take pride in being an art teacher and being part of a student’s artistic thought process.”

ACA will also offer workshops in many areas of art this fall and winter. Workshops in mandolin, ukulele, upcycling objects into musical instruments, Ukainian egg design, batiking, field and night photograph, and directing actors.

The mission of Allegheny Center for the arts is to provide a creative, educational hub for arts and culture that offers opportunities for the growth, development, and partnership of arts-related programs and small businesses in the region. ACA wants to bring many different people together to learn new skills, share with each other in a fun atmosphere and then bring more joy to the people around them. We have learned over the last three years of bringing art classes to people that person learn better in a group of like minded people and learn much more from each other than if they were learning their new skills alone.

For more information, visit Forms can be mailed to P.O. Box 431, Warren.