Born in the Ukraine, Shemper came to the United States from Odessa. She actually began teaching art as a teenager, working with young children at fundamentals like drawing and classical painting. She and her students work primarily with watercolors – a medium which provides those just starting out with considerable flexibility and freedom – and on November 18th, Shemper and her husband spearheaded the installation of more than 100 such works (featuring a total of 50 artists) on the walls of the main dining room at nearby AUSTIN’S STEAK & ALE HOUSE.
This past Saturday, AUSTIN’S decided to repay that favor by hosting a holiday get-together for Shemper and her students, a gathering designed as much as a thank-you for the donated artwork as it was to celebrate in a festive way the sense of community that LIANA’S ART SCHOOL engenders.
“The customers love this – they really do,” AUSTIN’S manager Colleen Bowerman points out. “Believe me, the customers notice.”
LIANA’S ART SCHOOL services about 65 students at one time, broken up into small groups of varying ages and skill levels, peppered throughout the week’s busy schedule.
“I like to mix the ages,” says Shemper. “Because the younger students, they learn to be a bit more serious...and the older students, they learn to have a little more fun.”
It’s a combination that’s already helped to give life to some of the shapes and images that even the youngest of her students favor, like the teddy bears and bows that are a specialty of 7-year old Seneca, or the puppies and shells that 6-year old Victor (Shemper’s son) likes so much. And while fundamentals in drawing, applying paint to the canvas, etc. are the mainstay of Shemper’s teachings, adult students like Ellen Hotter and Jo Fernandes can also benefit from specific techniques like coloring and shading. And then somewhere in the middle of that age-spectrum, there’s even a prodigy like 14-year-old Taria Partyka, whose detailed still life work already displays a talent well beyond her years.
But regardless of age or expertise, the constant, as far as her students go, is Shemper’s demeanor and the individual attention she gives to each of them. “She has loads of patience,” notes the adult Fernandes. Adds 6-year-old Elizabeth, “Liana helped me when I really needed help.” Perhaps the greatest testimonial comes from Shemper’s own daughter Faye, who at 7-years old, clearly gets the benefit of Mom’s tutelage 24/7. And having already grown up with an appreciation for her mother’s art, Faye still marvels at the idea that she’s able to produce some great works of her own now. “I never knew how that could feel… but it actually felt cool,” she told us Saturday. “I never thought I could do that.”
Now, if that isn’t the best kind of gift a teacher can give her students – well then, folks, we don’t know what is.
If you’re interested in checking out these impressive works, you’d best do it soon, as the display of more than 100 paintings is scheduled to be returned to the artists shortly after the holidays. (And if by chance, you or a member of your family would like to find out more about LIANA’S ART SCHOOL, please contact Liana Shemper directly at either (718) 544-4728 or (917) 873-5402.) AUSTIN’S STEAK & ALE HOUSE, by the way, is located at 82-70 Austin Street in Kew Gardens, (718) 849-3939.