FANWOOD, NJ – Picasso’s Basement, owned by Fanwood resident  Paula Cohen-Martin, is the newest member of the Fanwood Business and Professional Association.

Cohen-Martin is an accomplished artist/illustrator and mother of two who started her career as an illustrator after graduating from Parsons School of Design.   She formed Picasso’s Basement  when she began teaching school aged art classes in a small basement studio.

Now a licensed and active business, Picasso’s Basement runs classes for town Recreation departments, schools, and shops and for party entertainment. Programs are offered for all ages from Pre-K to teens. Classes range from General Art classes to Make Your Own Comic Book programs and Illustration classes.  

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Picasso’s Basement Classes encourages creativity, using traditional materials but often incorporating unusual materials and even recycled household items in order to repurpose materials that would otherwise get tossed. 

To learn more about upcoming art classes through Picasso’s Basement at the Fanwood Recreation Center and other venues  or to bring Picasso’s Basement to your venue check out www.picassosbasement.com or call or email Paula at paula@picassosbasement.com (917)207-2301. 

Interview with Paula Cohen-Martin

What is your background in art?

I have drawn my whole life. I attended Parson’s School of Design and graduated with a BA in Illustration. I was lucky, I learned about everything from illustration to sculpting to printmaking. I’ve been illustrating magazines, books, and newspaper articles for years. On the side I have written several books that someday you’ll see in print! I hope… I also love making very homemade crafts and have always enjoyed creating something from nothing—painting on everything that didn’t move and repurposing unusual household items and hardware by making it into art. Honestly I prefer it not look perfect. I like handmade to look handmade!

What is your philosophy on teaching art?

Fun. Thinking. Exposing kids to great art and letting them learn from it without forcing them to recreate it. Helping them see that they can make art out of anything. And EVERY kid is talented and has something to say with their art. They may not see it but every person has something to give and share. Some may have more advanced skills but every kid can create a masterpiece. They just need to think about what they are doing and let their personalities show in their artwork. And have a good time doing it.

What are your aspirations for Picasso's Basement?

I’d love to bring my classes to as many places as possible. I want to see my programs make a difference in kids’ lives. Open them up to art, make them realize what an amazing way it is to express themselves.

What are the age ranges you work with?

All. Right now I have classes running for ages 4- 15 but I can work with older teens and adults, and even with 2-3 year olds. I have some projects set aside for seniors—memory boxes that they can use to honor a loved one or cherish a special time in their lives and share with their family. Art is a great release for everyone.

What kinds of projects do they undertake?

That depends on the class. My Comic Book Class is very formattedI use materials that replicate what professional comic book artists use but make the process accessible to kids.

My BE AN ILLUSTRATOR class will learn just how many different kinds of illustration there are—logos for package design, book covers, posters…they’ll get to try their hand at all of it.

My General Art Classes take on as much as they can. We do printmaking, sculpture, painting, figure drawing… Right now we are using wires and corks and paint to create our own take on Calder’s Circus.  The 4-5 Year Old Classes make collages, paintings, mobiles, hats, more. Last week we made decorative birdhouses by painting cardboard and applying it to cigar boxes without the lids. They look amazing!

How often are classes available?

Currently I’m teaching 3 weekly classes at Fanwood Recreation, two at other locations. I’m always open to adding more if they can fit into the schedule! I am going to be doing events at local businesses including Little Scoops in Cranford. They host some amazing events!

My Spring classes in Fanwood will be starting in April and registration starts soon.  I’ll have the forms on my website shortly.

Any camps planned?  

Yes. I’ll be running a MAKE YOUR OWN COMIC BOOK CAMP from July 22-26th at Forrest Road Park from 9am-noon and an ART IN THE PARK CAMP from August 19-23 also from 9am-noon.   I’ll be at their Fanwood Camp Registration night on March 14th from 7pm on at Forrest Road Park in Fanwood and I should have the information on my website by next week! www.picassosbasement.com