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News >  Spokane

Fine illustration of giving: 11-year-old offers free art classes online

A lot of people have been stepping up to help the community in recent weeks, and 11-year-old Sindhu Surapaneni is no different. She’s been offering free online art classes and storytimes for children since the end of March.

“I wanted to give back to the community, especially during the quarantine,” she said.

Surapeneni has been immersed in art since she was 3 years old. She loves realistic drawing, but she also does origami, painting and finger knitting.

“I’ve been doing realistic drawing for the last two years,” she said. “I just like drawing things that look real. They’re more genuine.”

She’s been taking art classes off and on for years, but before that she experimented on her own. “I just taught myself,” she said. “When I started off when I was little I did look at books.”

She used YouTube videos to help her learn finger knitting and origami, but it didn’t take her long to start doing things on her own. “I looked at some videos on how to fold some stuff,” she said. “I actually came up with my own creations.”

Some of her free online classes incorporate realistic drawing. “I was looking at drawings and trying to draw them,” she said of her early interest in that form of drawing. “I like to draw everyday objects, faces and animals.”

Many of her classes are on Facebook Live. “Sometimes I have private groups on Zoom,” she said.

She has a storytime every day Monday through Thursday and those are on Zoom. She incorporates art into the experience as well. “Zoom is more interactive than Facebook Live,” she said. “We draw some characters from the story at the end.”

Most people who attend her Zoom classes are children, but Surapeneni said some parents participate as well and some adults sign up for her natural drawing classes. Her live streams and videos have racked up hundreds of views.

Surapeneni has had plenty of time to devote to the effort with her fifth-grade class at Liberty Lake Elementary on hiatus. She plans to expand even more this summer. “I’ll be doing more in the summer,” she said.

In June she has something online at least once a day, sometimes more. Her storytimes on Facebook are on Monday through Thursday at 12:30 p.m. She has Origami classes every Friday, oil pastel painting class every Saturday, pencil sketch and acrylic class every Sunday. The times and other, special classes, are posted on her Imaginations 2 Creation Facebook page. Videos of previous classes are also posted there.

But Surapeneni anticipates doing fewer videos in the fall when she goes back to school. “I’ll do as many as I can,” she said.

Her mother, Sowmya Surapeneni, said her daughter doesn’t get her artistic skill from her. “She tried to teach me the finger knitting,” she said.

She said she’s proud of how well her daughter leads her classes. “She’s patient,” she said. “She can do the best demonstrations. She goes step by step.”

The only contribution she has made to her daughter’s YouTube videos and classes is sometimes helping record them. Her daughter does everything else herself, she said. And people seem to be receptive to her art.

“She just wants to do something unique,” she said. “A lot of people are really appreciating it.”

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