Art classes for kids & adults
Tom Violand - Creative Director, CEO
Beginning in 1979, Tom traveled to Charleston WV, Chicago, and New York, as a paid intern engaged in graphic design and industrial design. After working for Public Television, Sears, and Henry Dreyfuss Associates he ultimately graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Design from the University of Cincinnati.
Moving to California in September 1983, Tom began work as an automotive interior designer for the consultant design group that is now BMW DesignWorks in Newbury Park. Promoted to project manager, he traveled to Munich and Toronto on automotive seat styling assignments for BMW, Toyota and Magna International
Indulging his love of graphic design, Tom also sought outside work, and in 1989 Tom started Image & Form to continue designing both two and three dimensional design using the latest design tool of that era, the Macintosh computer. Since that time Tom built a successful business with clients as diverse as General Motors, Catalina Yachts and ElectraCraft powerboats. Tom has won several local and national awards for his trade show designs. Creating company logos, brochures, catalogs, ads and action photography for marine industry clients, have led most recently to publishing an annual lifestyle magazine for Westlake Management Association since 2017.
For Tom, owning and directing Art is Our Passion represents the attainment of not only a life-long goal to teach in a class setting, but the joy of sharing all the knowledge he has gained with others just discovering their creative identity.
Tom lives with his wife Gail in Moorpark. His daughter Megan is a 2020 Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine graduate. She is realizing her life-long dream of treating competition horses an equine sports medicine practice in Hollister, CA. Tom's favorite pursuits outside art include marine photography, camping and sailing.
Michelle Werwega - Assistant Instructor
Michelle has been passionate about art since a young age. With the encouragement and guidance from her elementary and high school art teachers, she won numerous school sponsored art competitions and received a scholarship nomination award in Fine Arts from Interlochen Arts Camp. Michelle continued to pursue the arts and earned a Merit Scholarship Award from The College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Michigan. She majored in Graphic Communications and developed print, TV, direct mail and radio campaigns.
Michelle's favorite mediums include colored pencil and acrylic paint. She finds inspiration from the work of great artist like Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo and Gustav Klimt.
Michelle embraced the transition from traditional mediums to using the Mac, and has created a wide range of designs and illustrations for packaging, giftware, tableware, stationery, magazines and marketing materials. She has designed packaging and products for Barbie, SpongeBob SquarePants, Harry Potter, Campbell's, Kellogg's, Crayola and the Nesquick brand.
She hopes her traditional art background and professional design experience will help students develop their fine art skills and pursue art as their passion.
Michael Thompson - Assistant Instructor
Michael Thompson, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio would tell you that he was drawing before he could write. In retrospect, he acknowledges that his artistic skills and abilities are truly “a gift from God.” His early interest in drawing led him towards an aspiration of a career in art. He is an alumnus of Baldwin Wallace College where he received a B.A. in Fine Art and a minor in Business and Psychology. He also served 8 years in the Army National Guard. In January of 1993, he started his business “Designs Like Magic” the artwork of Michael Thompson while also working as a Juvenile Probation Officer and a Self Defense Instructor for the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy. In October of 1995, Michael opened his own Art Gallery and Studio. In July of 1998, he renamed his business Transcending ARTS Studios.
The art that Michael produces varies in medium as well as style. His choice in medium includes but is not limited to Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor, Pen & Ink, Graphite Pencil, and Linoleum Tile Relief Etching & Printing. The diversity of his styles covers the realms of Realism, Surrealism, Abstract Realism, Abstract, and Contemporary Sculpture. His Realistic and Representational style is often moving and thought provoking. And he loves people as subject matter. His use of vibrant color, bold solids, or subtle detail, gives each piece of work a distinctive characteristic and a life of its own. Michael will also tell you that there is an undertone of spirituality in all the work that he does although it is not always immediately apparent. In each piece of work, his goal is to evoke an emotional reaction from the viewer.
Truly a “Renaissance Man”, Michael is always looking new creative outlets. He newest venture is writing. He currently working on 6 feature film screenplays and has completed a TV pilot. He is working with young people as a traveling Motivational Speaker, reaching and inspiring Middle and High School students across the West Coast and Hawaii. His unique combination of life and career experience allows him to approach today’s youth with a relevant message that is engaging educational and entertaining. One of his primary goals is to be nationally recognized for his visual art. He also plans to continue acting and writing as well as moving towards directing and producing. And he will continue to work with and inspire young people.
Since 2006 we have been teaching students of all ages the joy of making visual art. Art Is Our Passion inc. provides one-of-a-kind drawing and painting classes in Thousand Oaks.
Our team of instructors are motivated by their love of creating art and the passion to share their knowledge and skills with students just starting to create their own works.
Maia Gröss - Assistant Instructor
Maia Gröss has been drawing just about all her life. She picked it up from her dad who was a freelance illustrator for the majority of her childhood. She graduated from the California State Summer School for the Arts twice. Once in the major of Fine Arts, and again for Animation. Maia is currently a student at Santa Monica College, and a character designer Intern at EnterAktion Studios. She hopes to become a concept illustrator for major studios both in the movie and video business, as well as open up her own studio for comic books. She loves watching movies and playing on her Xbox.
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