Inspiring the Spirit

. November 7, 2012.

To Elena Townsend- Efimova, painting, drawing and sculpture means more “Art is my life. I cannot live without producing art,” she said. Townsend-Efimova is the founder of the Talking Colors Art School in Ann Arbor. Talking Colors offers classes in the fine arts, including painting, calligraphy, mosaics and more for children and adults. Youngsters
age six and up can take classes alone or together with their parents. Studying art expands youths’ horizons, in Townsend-Efimova’s view. “The child will be inspired
and want to believe in himself,” she explains. “The child is more connected to nature, more observant and sees beauty in everything.”

A blossoming passion for art

Townsend-Efimova was drawn to design even as a little girl living in Russia. “I knew what was my passion – architecture – at age six,” she said. “For me it was the perfect combination of structure and beauty. I was passionate about math and science; architecture combines fine art with math.” Her zest for the subject isa family tradition. “My father is an engineer and a lawyer and an artist inside,” she said. It’s an enthusiasm she’s passed along to her own three children, now 34, 26 and 16, and to her five-year-old grandchild. After she had her first child, she focused her attention on sharing her love for art with her daughter. When other moms saw the work she created with her little
one, they wanted to join in on the fun. “They approached me and said, ‘would you teach my child?’” she said.

Sharing the knowledge

Townsend-Efimova’s reputation expanded until she opened Talking Colors in 1993. Today, youths can take classes after school or study on weekends or in summer sessions. Homeschooled youngsters are welcome. Boys and girls enjoy two hour lessons creating works whose theme and materials are selected by Townsend-Efimova. “I give them the theory and inspiration,” she said. Exhibits and workshops are also offered.

“We work on a larger scale – big paintings instead of small,” she said. At the end of one class Townsend-Efimova teaches, the youngsters’ paintings are placed on the floor of the studio. When parents pick up their children, they are encouraged to guess which ones they created. “I joke that if you pick the wrong painting, you have to take the other child home,” she said. “The paintings are nonverbal letters for parents.” Every child is an artist, in Townsend-Efimova’s view. “You can not deny the beauty they produce
on a piece of white paper,” she said. “Children make through art a visual on paper that otherwise no one else would see.”

Boys’ and girls’ self-esteem grows stronger when they paint, sculpt or draw, she said. “Art feeds our soul,” said Townsend- Efimova.

For more info about Talking Colors visit