The Art of Painting is a Process

Teaching Artist and Mason Alum Nathan Loda has been teaching the Academy’s popular Oil Painting for Adults classes for several years. With a new 8-week session starting on Saturday, February 17th, Mr. Loda wanted to share his approach (with helpful visuals) to teaching students how to paint. His goal is to de-mystify the process and to make it as non-intimidating as possible, especially for new students.

“My approach in this 8 week painting class is to demonstrate step by step painting processes,” explained Mr. Loda . “We will all work from the same painting subjects from life as well as photographs.”


Oil painting example


“I will lead the class through the techniques and approaches to bring the paintings to life,” said Mr. Loda.


Oil painting example


The methods vary from monochromatic underpainting, to alla prima wet, into wet paintings.


Oil painting example


Mr. Loda assures potential students, saying “The techniques are always demonstrated so that students have a clear understanding on how to make a beautiful painting, from start to finish!”


Oil painting example


Nathan Loda is an American realist oil painter. Loda received an MFA degree from George Mason University in 2015 and a BFA in painting from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV in 2011. Loda has exhibited in numerous galleries and exhibitions across the country and his work hangs in private and public collections. His commissioned works for restaurants such as Founding Farmers Tysons and businesses such as KO Distilling in Manassas VA, have been published in Interior Design magazine and numerous local newspapers. He has been a semi finalist for the Bethesda Trawick Prize for Contemporary Art and recipient of numerous prizes and honorable mentions in juried shows Nathan is represented by The Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington, MD. You can view his work at his website, or through the Adah Rose Gallery.



Whether you are new to the class, or a returning student ready to continue your studies, we look forward to enjoying the art of painting together! Classes start soon, so sign up now!



Art Events

Fall Student Art Shows, December 2

Our visual art students in our Fall semester classes are busy finishing up their projects to showcase in the final art shows this Saturday, December 2nd. Free and open to the public, these short presentations provide the perfect sneak-peak into our art curriculum and classrooms, which are located in the Art & Design Building on the Mason Fairfax Campus.

WHAT: Fall 2017 Art Showcases
WHEN: Saturday, December 2, 2017 (see times below)
WHERE: Art & Design Building (Lower Level), Mason Fairfax Campus     See Map
PARKING: Visitors can park in the adjacent Lot A for free (this Saturday only) or the Shenandoah Parking Deck for $8.

The art show presentations take place the last 15 minutes of the final class time:
Art Adventures for Ages 4-7 = 11:00 a.m.-11:15 a.m., Room L002
Art Foundations for Ages 8-11 = 12:30 p.m.-12:45 p.m., Room L002
Art Explorations for Ages 12-18 = 12:30 p.m.-12:45 p.m., Room L004

A light reception will follow, and Academy staff and instructors will be available for questions. Please call the Academy office during regular business hours at 703-993-9889 if you need more information.

Good luck to all of our wonderful art students, and a special thank you to our wonderful instructors!




Art Community Outreach

Art Students Donate Artwork to Fairfax CASA

At the end of our Spring 2017 semester, students from our Visual Art classes volunteered to donate some of their created artwork to the local organization Fairfax CASA, which advocates for children who find themselves in the court system. The donated pieces of art have been framed and displayed in the Fairfax CASA office, where the children they assist can see them and be inspired.

Emily Rea, Supervisor for Fairfax CASA – which stands for Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates – said, “I just wanted to send along photos of the artwork which has finally all been framed! It looks beautiful in our office and we are very thankful. Thank you and the kids again!” She collaborated with staff member Candy Neukam from the Academy office to make the artwork donation possible. And our art students were more than happy to contribute!


Donated student artwork


Fairfax CASA Mission Statement
The mission of Fairfax CASA is to advocate for the best interests of each abused and neglected child referred by the Fairfax County Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court through the promotion and support of quality volunteer representation.
We seek to ensure that each child’s needs are identified and addressed with the goal of living in a safe and permanent home. As permitted by our legislative charter, we also provide assistance to youths entering adulthood who have been referred to the CASA program by the Court, up to the age of 21.


Donated student artwork


The Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program was founded in 1989 by a group of community-minded Fairfax County citizens responding to a request for a CASA program from the Fairfax County Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court (Court). Since that time, Fairfax CASA has operated as a 501(c)(3) public charity accepting support from individuals, corporations, and public funds to ensure that children who are victims of abuse and neglect are placed in safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible. This purpose is accomplished by recruiting, training, and supervising community volunteers to serve as special advocates for children whose families have been cited for abuse and neglect by the Court. It is the driving goal of Fairfax CASA to ensure that the best interests of all children referred by a judge are represented before the Court. Since its founding, Fairfax CASA has recruited and trained nearly 1,800 CASA volunteers to provide this critical service to more than 6,700 children who have been referred by the Court.


Donated student artwork


We hope to be able to provide inspiration and hope again in the future through artwork created by our very own students!


Fairfax CASA Logo





Art Music

Summer Students Create Collaborate Video Project

Teen students in our Summer 2017 Residential Music & Art program worked together to create a fun short film, each utilizing their specific skills and talents to produce the piece. See the video here!

The students were involved in the Clarinet Academy, Percussion Academy, Music Composition, JumpstART Studio, Trumpet Academy and Music Recording programs. They conceived the concept, created and recorded the art/ set pieces, wrote the music, played the music and recorded the music! The Residential program RA Jeremy Killeen guided the students’ work in the evening hours after the regular day’s program was completed.

Project credits:
Art Design/ Animation: Chinonye Khagha
Music Composition, Performance and Recording: Claire Bassett, Teresa Jenkins, Samuel Oxford, Katelyn Proffitt, Christian Reynolds, Max Rosner, Matt Vice, and Jack Yagerline



Art Music

ArtsQuest Early Childhood Summer Camp is Epic

Our fun-themed ArtsQuest Summer Adventures Camps are designed to help young children ages 4-7, who are in the early stages of creative development, to explore musical and artistic foundations through games, activities and hands-on experiences.

Jimmy Stevens Voice Lessons“The ArtsQuest camps are the perfect opportunity for your child to be introduced to the wonderful world of music and art, as we sing, dance, draw, and play our way through a variety of themes, as well as learning about famous pieces of art and music,” said this year’s instructor Jimmy Stevens, a Master of Music candidate at George Mason University.



Each week will include music and movement activities, singing, art projects, and “instrument petting zoos” where children get real hands-on experience with the piano, drums/ percussion, band and orchestra instruments and more! Imaginative themes will set the tone for each week’s curriculum.


Fairy Tale Week July 10 – 14, 2017
Fairy Tale Week: Explore a world of kings, queens, princesses, and dragons through art and music while listening to some of the best fairy tale music ever written, such as Prokofiev’s “Cinderella”!

Disney Week July 17 – 21, 2017
Disney Week: Come join the fun as we explore all things “Disney” themed, from the movies to the musicals!

Outer Space Week July 24 – 28, 2017
Outer Space Week: Let’s explore space through art and music! Come on a great adventure where we will see stars and planets, and listen to some of the best space music, such as Holst’s “The Planets”!


At the end of each week on Friday, parents/ family will be invited into the classroom for an interactive presentation from the students led by the instructor. With a new theme and new activities each week, children can come for one, two or all three weeks and enjoy unique experiences!


Young kids at music summer camp


The program takes place at the Potomac Arts Academy Building, which is just off-campus from Mason and easy to get to. There is convenient, free parking right next to the building, too! After drop-off, parents can wait in the Academy office lobby or leave and come back at pick-up time. Want to get your kids excited about the arts? Then ArtsQuest is where to start!