Oona Brayshaw timidly unpacked her backpack full of portraits, and our jaws dropped. She fondly smiled as she explained and critiqued each one for us. “That one’s not my best,” she said of one of her many sensitive and beautiful portraits, “I wish I could have captured his expression better.” As an artist, it’s easy to get caught up in analyzing how to improve your work – but we think Oona has much more to be proud of than critical.
Oona has all the qualities of a gifted artist—talented, passionate, humble, and eager to learn. The more she talked about her art and the subjects of her portraits, the more open she became, especially as she told us about her favorite portrait subject, her best friend. Art brings out a spark within her. Her eyes lit up when she told us about the guidance and advice she has been given by her instructor, Sean Delonas, in her Drawing and Oil Painting classes. Oona revealed that she might not have followed the path of being an artist if it was not for Sean. “Sean’s class has really pushed me to the next level. He thinks I should study at the Florence Academy of Art, which I am considering after my classes at Northampton Community College.”
Oona first took Ceramics at The Baum School with Jennifer Nahan-Gidley. She loved that Ms. Jenny gives students a space where it is okay to be yourself and lets students be in control of what they create in class. Now, with Sean’s class, Oona says, “He is extremely helpful and always encouraging students. He has inspired me to continue making art and to not give up. Sean is probably the best instructor I have ever had.”
Oona’s mom, Rebecca might be her biggest fan. She laughed as she admitted to pulling Oona’s discarded drawings out of the trash. On how they discovered The Baum School, Rebecca explains, “We got a brochure in the mail, and the school opened up a whole new door for Oona. It gave her a place to express herself. It gave her a home base. Public schools focused more on test scores than on creativity.” When Oona was scolded for doodling in class, Rebecca turned to homeschooling. She explained, “Children need expression, art, and music in their lives and homeschooling gave us the freedom to explore that.”
Oona’s educational freedom has also allowed her to enroll early in college courses. When Oona is not studying, she is working at Chipotle, playing the piano, or watching horror movies. She is still unsure as to what she wants to do in the future, whether it be a professional portrait artist, an art teacher, an FBI agent, or a vet. Whatever she decides, we know her future will be bright.
Oona recommends The Baum School of Art because “It has a relaxed atmosphere where all skill levels are welcome and strengthened. The teachers take time with each student, and they are extremely helpful."