Young Rembrandts in our midst

Pam Griffin

What Bette Fetter began in 1988 as one person working with children in her home is now an international business and leader in art education. Thousands of students are taught each week using a step-by-step method.

“Young Rembrandts is a fun child-centered after school enrichment program with emphasis in drawing,” Maria Dante, program director of Young Rembrandts NW Florida, told The Log.

Research has shown a strong correlation between arts and achievement in the classroom.

“Art does more than simply delight the eye and cultivate creativity,” Dante said. “Art is powerful. Unleashing that power in young people begins with drawing, the fundamental skills of all visual arts. Like math, science or reading, where children must first learn how to add and subtract before they learn how to multiply or divide, drawing is the bedrock skill required for future artistic success.” 

 In January 2013, the Young Rembrandts program was introduced to Northwest Florida. Classes are held at host schools, community centers, museums and clubs. This fall, Destin Elementary School will join other area schools to offer classes.

Preschoolers will learn to draw basic shapes, a critical building block for every young artist. Lessons will introduce them to wonderful seasonal imagery. Lessons like acorns, fall leaves, and an apple tree will build into their skills and creativity. Playful characters will be the focus as they draw a clown, a scarecrow, and an imaginary monster inspired by a classic children’s story.

Elementary students have a natural enthusiasm for art. Young Rembrandts can help develop their drawing skills, and sun and moon characters will teach students to transform simple shapes into fully-realized clever characters. Colorful drawings of a macaw parrot will help develop students’ sense of color, and detailed pirate ships and a friendly robot will inspire a sense of adventure in every child.

“This program was developed to engage children with a variety of skills,” Dante said. “Our curriculum consists of preschool drawing, elementary, and cartooning classes, along with a variety of camps and specialty workshops. Every child can be enrolled from preschool through sixth grade, and never repeat a lesson.”

With class attendance, children show increased attention to detail, improved fine motor skills, improved vocabulary and shape recognition.

“Young Rembrandts was created to be fun,” said Dante. “We intentionally offer child-friendly and relevant subject matter to spark children’s interest and increase knowledge retention, never losing sight that children learn best when they are engaged and entertained.”

For dates, time and cost of classes, email or visit