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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Art Lady Passes Students, Memories To New Teacher

Monica Haff, the Art Lady, has sent her young students - with love and fond memories - to a new Art Lady, Holly Perona.

Haff, 47, and Perona, 24, share an infectious enthusiasm. A sense of mission, if you will.

“You have to do your best for them. They’re doing their best for you,” Haff said.

“Praise, praise, praise,” Perona said.

Perona is offering a summer art camp for children in the Spokane Valley, in addition to teaching lessons year-round. She inherited Haff’s classes last winter.

“Oh, good. I knew Holly would do just a top-notch job,” said Haff as she examined a flier for Perona’s summer camp. “She loves art and she loves children.”

Three reasons drove Haff’s decision to stop teaching art after “30 years on and off, but mostly on.” She has multiple sclerosis, which saps her energy and sometimes limits the use of her right hand. The after-school time for her art classes, which she held in the kitchen/studio of her home, was a weary time of day for her. Haff said she knew she would rebound into a more energetic phase with her MS, as she has for 20 years she’s had the disease.

But another project drew her more. Haff longed to write and illustrate books: children’s stories and books on arts and crafts projects. Her first manuscript, the tale of an elf and a rabbit, with many colored illustrations, is awaiting word from a publisher.

“And I’ve done a series of six baby books,” Haff said. “And a couple of books about chimpanzees for 2-yearolds to 5-year-olds.”

She’s writing about art projects partly to create a resource for her church, Redeemer Lutheran Church, where she has led or inspired many colorful creations.

If MS and her books were reasons one and two, reason number three was the kitchen lights.

Electrical problems in the Haffs’ home began during last November’s ice storm. Her husband Tim, a builder, worked on the wiring, but to no avail. Instead the glitches grew. By January, the overhead kitchen lights were history.

Haff’s take on the situation reflects her active faith: “Then God turned my lights out,” she said, with a great laugh.

Haff started teaching art at 17. She was a baby sitter, and both her charges and their friends watched and wanted to learn.

“I’d get a knock-knock on the door. I started my first art camps out of those knock-knocks,” Haff said.

Perona started teaching after earning a bachelor’s degree in art from Whitworth College.

Perona explains her rapport with children this way: “That’s easy. It’s probably because I’m a big kid myself.”

Next week she’ll start a crew of children, 6 to 14 years old. They’ll draw and paint, they’ll take turns modeling for each other, they’ll do “quick five-second scribble sketches.”

“The most fulfilling thing,” Perona said, “is to see the kids with a smile on their face when they are extremely happy with their work.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: For information about Holly Perona’s summer art camp for children, call 927-9858.

For information about Holly Perona’s summer art camp for children, call 927-9858.

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