Open Studio Information

Open Studio

Bring your supplies and make stuff

(Not required… Just show up!)

Adults - 9:00 to 11:00 AM

Bring your supplies and work on current projects or get info for any missed days. Stay until Noon if you like while the younger kids are there.

Kids ages 4 to 7 - 11 AM to 12:30 PM

Anyone in our KidsART classes: 4 & 5, or 6 & 7 (at the beginning of the school year).

Ages 8 to 18 - 1 to 3:30 PM

Teenagers work in one room and grade schoolers in another. Bring your friends!

Open Studio is free for registered students, and you can bring a friend.

A friend can use your supplies and pay $4 for the Open Studio, or use our supplies and pay $8. If they sign up, you get a month’s free tuition!

Firstlight News & Info

How To Do Art Supplies

Classes Begin the Week of August 20-24 EVERY STUDENT MUST HAVE A FULL SET OF SUPPLIES BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF CLASSLife is crazy so we are trying to make it as easy as possible to get the supplies you need.   Here are two ways to do it, and why it's important....

Next Open Studio

Open Studio Bring your supplies and make stuff(RSVP not required for registered students... Just show up!)Open Studio is free for registered students - $4* for non-students. Seating is limited for non-students. Please RSVP and look for a confirmation email, or call (#...

If you have asked to cancel your art course…

You’ve been sent a link to this page because you’ve requested cancellation. Our policies, which require agreement before registration, are always posted on our site, and some are also at the bottom of this page. They begin with the explanation that our course tuition is a full purchase for the school year, or the remainder of it, and the monthly payments towards this purchase are a free payment plan to help pay over time. We aren’t a month to month program, but the payment plans can make it seem like we are.

Please read more about cancellation before continuing on to our cancellation form, (provided that it is before our cutoff date of Feb 20 – we can’t accept cancellations at the end of the term). We work hard to create a robust long-term program and this is stated all through our site and in the registration process. Please do not schedule new activities and then try to cancel the art course to accomodate them.

If you have any questions at all, or want a scholarship application, please call Mr. Dennas: 615-202-6426 or email. Thank you so much!

Here are exerpts from our Questions and Answers page:

“What if I want to quit the art course sometime during the school year?”

A yearly educational course like ours, and for most educational courses, is a one-time purchase for the school year, but since we offer a monthly payment plan, it can seem like we are going month to month. The payment plan is a convenience for our families so you don’t have to pay the course fee all at once. Cancelling a class is actually returning part of the course you purchased and asking for your money back for the rest of the year. We do have an option for doing this with our 30-day cancellation policy. Please continue if you are considering cancelling.

Cancelling with a 30-day notice is largely reserved for insurmountable reasons, such as moving, dissatisfaction with our teaching, or health issues. Otherwise, it is very important for the Class, the Student, and for Firstlight, that registrations are completed as purchased. Signing up for other activities later on in the year, or feeling busy, is not what our cancellation policy is designed for. Financial considerations can usually be handled with our scholarships, which we take applications for at any time during the year.

Issues For The Class 

Students in a class develop community. Taking students out mid-year is a loss to that community, and some students take it hard when a friend disappears. It can cause other students to become discouraged and not enjoy their class. Other students often ask about their friends when they’ve only missed one week. Other class considerations are that if a class is small, we can fall under our break-even point with just one cancellation. If the class is full, we probably have turned away other students who wanted in the class.

Issues For The Student

Our courses are designed to give a strong foundation to every art student. The curriculum has been crafted and revised for years to ensure that once you get through the 2 years of Foundations lessons, you can stand on your own and pursue art at home with a degree of confidence. While It does help to continue with our advanced lessons (if you are serious about pursuing art), for the casual artist, Foundations is a complete course. If you quit even for a month or two and then come back, you will have a significant gap in that course. Key lessons are intermingled with the more fun-oriented lessons, so that students won’t be overwhelmed, and will enjoy “doing what I want” in addition to learning valuable insights. Since we have a two-year cycle, that means taking any break, such as cancelling mid-year and planning to return in the fall, means the missing pieces won’t be available for two years down the road. This makes it more difficult for a student to advance to the next level, since they don’t have certain skills or insights. That said, we have made it work when needed!

Issues For The School

Our main enrollment season is in the late Summer and early Fall. Cancelling your art course mid-year is like returning a partially used product that most likely can never be resold to another student. We try hard to make the courses and supplies as affordable as possible, and we have tight margins as a result. In short, to stay in business we need the courses that have been sold, to be paid for, and offering the interest-free payment plan shouldn’t negate the idea that the entire year has been purchased.

We do offer a 30-day cancelation before our cutoff date in February. If you have something big come up unexpectedly that requires you to cancel your enrollement, please use our 30-day advance notice CANCELATION REQUEST FORM. Because we don’t sign up students later in the year, we have a cut-off date of February 20 for all cancelations. Please read the policy excerpts in the green toggle bar directly below if you want to review them.

If you are considering cancelling, please give us a call and we’ll do everything we can to help you finish your course in a way that works for you. Thank you!

“Why do I need to pay for 30 days after I cancel?”

There are two reasons.

1) We are looking for committed artists, not a place for kids to just hang out. Since we can’t keep our doors open without full classes for the school year courses, we need for families to consider the decision carefully. Without a 30-day policy, and especially with our easy interest free monthly payment plan, it’s easy for someone to begin the year treating it as a month-to-month class, which it’s not. We’d hate for a person to only try us out for a month without that consideration, and then casually quit, taking a space in the class that other, more committed artists would have liked to have. Once courses are 1 or 2 months into the school year, many people will have looked elsewhere for after-school activities, and our courses may have empty spaces the rest of the year.

2) It can take time for another student to change their schedule and fill a vacant spot.

The good news is that you are encouraged to stay in the class for those 30 days and make more art!

From our policies - Tap to open
Just FYI, here are all the excerpts about cancellations from the policies you agreed to when you signed up.

9. If you can’t finish your course – We need 30 days advance notice on or before our cancelation cut-off date of February 20th using our CANCELATION REQUEST FORM. We understand when things happen unexpectedly. We just ask you to TALK to us if something big comes up. Please call Dennas at 615-202-6426. Please read our Frequently Asked Questions (Q & A) also on this page, for more information, and look at our detailed cancelation explanation at the bottom of this page in the colored area. Appropriate reasons for cancelling a course after you purchased it and have used it for several months are thing such as moving out of the middle TN area or family health problems. Changing your class/schedule or applying for a scholarship can solve most any other problems that arise.

Whatever you do, please don’t attempt to make any changes in your class by speaking to one of us in person, especially when classes are going or ending, or starting, or about to start, or well, any other time. Let us make it clear; all verbal communication will be forgotten immediately by visual people like us. (“who was that I just spoke with?! didn’t they have a purple shirt?) Only by using the cancelation request form can a tuition be refunded or payments stopped. And only before our cut off date. (ok, if something really freaky happens, call. We are pretty understanding folks).

Here is our cancelation policy explained in extra loving detail.

Firstlight Arts Academy loves art students and we want to keep ’em happy. If you or your child is unhappy for any reason, please let us know as soon as you can so that we can address the issue. We like to be encouraging and proactive. Please know that talking to us about anything will be as good an experience as we can make it!

Most schools are a tight business financially, and we struggle to make the ends meet every single year. We simply cannot operate successfully without full classes all year long. We are a school-year supplemental program, with most of our activity squeezed into a 2-hour window each day. Students usually sign up for these type of courses at the beginning of the school year, and it’s harder to fill empty spaces in the middle of the year. We also do most of our advertising during the sign-up season at the beginning of the school year.

That’s why we ask for a commitment from our families. It’s a promise that you will do your best to complete the courses purchased, and give us a chance to work with you. In turn, we promise that we will do our best to make the art course as fabulous as we can in every way. We can’t refund a course when people just want to try something new that came up. Then we have an empty seat that someone else could have used.

There are other reasons beyond just keeping us going, however, that makes sticking to your commitment a great idea.

  • Each class is a wonderful little social group, and we hate to see it disturbed during the year.
  • The curriculum is designed to be taken for the full year, so quitting gives you an incomplete art course.
  • We may have given away a month of tuition to someone who referred you as a yearly sign-up.
  • The most important reason: Artists can have ups and downs, and it is good for them to see that they can get past a few “learners” and find a “keeper” by sticking with it past the mood of the moment. This can actually be critical to the enjoyment of art for the rest of your life. We have lots of stories…

That said, we understand when things come up unexpectedly. If you have to quit for some unforeseen issue, or if you feel that the program has not fulfilled our description of it, then there is a 30 day cancelation policy. To request a cancelation and refund, you MUST use our cancelation form before February 20th. Please contact our founder and director, Dennas to discuss your situation.

If you are having financial trouble and that is affecting your decision, then please talk to us to see if we can work something out together. There are several scholarship options available to you.

Thank you!

Updating your Web Browser

Our software vendor has updated their security.

Here is some information on how to update a web browser if you have trouble accessing our portal to register. Anything prior to 2010 will not work, because it is using an old protocol. Thank you.

– – – – – –

Updating your Web Browser

Effective October 22, 2018, iClassPro will no longer support TLS 1.0 connections to its site (including the Staff Portal and Parent Portal). This is a necessary update and is standard practice across the Internet.

While iClassPro always recommends the latest versions of Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari for accessing the administrative side of the program, we are aware that some staff members and parents may be using outdated browsers to access the Staff Portal or Parent Portal (respectively). This change means that users with the following browsers will no longer be able to connect:

  • Google Chrome 21 and below
  • Firefox 22 and below
  • Desktop IE versions 7 and below
  • Mobile IE versions 10 and below
  • Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and below
  • Mobile Safari for iOS 4 and below
  • Desktop Safari versions 6 and below for OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and below
  • Desktop IE versions 8, 9, and 10 — Compatible only when running Windows 7 or newer, but not by default. (Windows Vista, XP and earlier are incompatible and cannot be configured to support TLS 1.1 or TLS 1.2.) 

The following browsers may be compatible depending on your Operating System:

  • Google Chrome 22 to 37 — Compatible when running on Windows XP SP3, Vista, or newer (desktop), OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or newer (desktop), or Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or newer (mobile).
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) to 4.4.4 — May be compatible with TLS 1.1 or higher. Some devices with Android 4.4.x may not support TLS 1.1 or higher.

If you are using Safari, Mac OS X will regularly & automatically check for updates to Safari (and any other software you have installed via the App Store) and prompt you in the top-right hand corner of the screen regarding updates as they are found so you can install them.

If you are using one of the other browsers that will no longer be supported, it will be necessary to update your browser to continue using iClassPro.  To do this:

Google Chrome:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, look at the More icon (the three dots)
  3. If an update is pending, the icon will be colored:
    • Green: An update has been available for 2 days.
    • Orange: An update has been available for 4 days.
    • Red: An update has been available for 7 days.

To update Google Chrome:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click the More icon (the three dots)
  3. Click Update Google Chrome. If you don’t see this button, you’re on the latest version.
  4. Click Relaunch.

Mac users: You can also set up automatic browser updates for all users of your computer if Google Chrome is installed in your Applications folder. Go to “About Google Chrome,” and click Automatically update Chrome for all users.

Linux users: Use your package manager to update Google Chrome.

Windows 8: Close all Chrome windows and tabs on the desktop, then relaunch Chrome to apply the update.



  1. At the top right, click the menu button (the three lines).
  2. Click the Help icon (question mark) and select About Firefox.
  3. The About Mozilla Firefox window will open. Firefox will begin checking for updates and downloading them automatically.
  4. When the updates are ready to be installed, click Restart to update Firefox.


Desktop IE versions 8, 9, and 10 (running Windows 7 or newer)

You will need to enable support for TLS 1.1 or higher to continue using these browsers. To do this:

  • Click Internet Options.
  • Go to the “Advanced” tab.
  • In the “Settings” box, select “Use TLS 1.1” and “Use TLS 1.2” (if available).
  • Click OK.
  • Restart IE.

My Mom, The Frustrated Artist

I watched My mom take a lot of art lessons over the years. Her experience greatly influences the way I approach teaching art at Firstlight. I want to make sure that others don’t have the same frustrations.

Mom wanted to go to art school, but my grandfather wouldn’t let her. Instead, she had to get a more practical (in his view) degree that was basically “how to be a good secretary”.

But she was always an artist at heart. We had her paintings up all over our house, and they were really beautiful. There were forest streams in the fall, and snow-clad cabins in the winter.

However, there was one really big problem with them. None of her paintings were her paintings. Each one was a copy of the her teacher’s step-by-step follow-along demonstrations. She was copying the teacher’s style and subject.

I remember her showing me all the cool techniques she had learned, like how to make snow on a rooftop, or add some fall foliage to a tree branch. I really enjoyed hearing about these. We talked about art a lot, and my mom always encouraged me as much as she could.

After a while, and after struggling a lot with her work, it became clear to my mom that she couldn’t make a painting look nearly as good unless she was in the expensive class, following along. She tried over and over. Years later she finally made one really large work that my dad loved and placed over the fireplace, but she wasn’t satisfied with it. It was just a larger, less awesome version of one of the snow-clad cabins.

The inability to create paintings on her own deflated her, and played into the fear that she wasn’t a “real artist”. She kept after it though, and eventually found a watercolor class that allowed her to create paintings she liked. I had gone to art school by this time, and I could see that the teacher wasn’t imparting very good technique. She struggled with these paintings too. She said the teacher pretty much left them on their own most of the time, and painted her own watercolors with them. She would show them what she did from time to time as instruction.

Then one day, she was in an antique and collectibles shop in another state. She saw her own painting! But then she realized it was not her own. It was another student’s painting that had taken the same lessons from the same teacher years before. I didn’t realize until much later, but this was devastating to her. The work had been on our walls for years, but now, to her, it was all fake. Shortly after this she gave up painting, and turned to writing poetry as her creative outlet.

This story is more common than you think. The teachers she had were good artists, and they did what they knew how to do. They painted, and they told their students what they were doing as they did it.

It seems very reasonable. It just doesn’t work very well.

Some students can move past this, and incorporate the follow-along into their own work, but most cannot. Most art students need real training and insights.

My mom was not taught how to find reference; how to compose a work; how to control color mixing; how to draw accurately; and lots of other very important things that make creating art much more accessible – much more satisfying and rewarding. So when she tried to do these things, that had once been easy when following along… she couldn’t.

So at my art school, I make sure we teach these things.

It’s really hard to teach art with a balance. Some teachers allow students to mostly work on their own, developing their art in their own way. Other teachers have students follow along and make copies of their own work.

We want to explain exactly how we do art, yet not force our own style on students. This takes lessons that delve into the nitty, and the gritty, like how an artist analyzes their subject so they can reproduce it accurately, or how to make a bright color look like it’s in a shaded area.

This approach does create some different problems though, and that is with perception. Sometimes I have artists and parents who want to see the pretty snow-clad cabin paintings coming home on a regular basis. They misunderstand the fact that many of our lessons that don’t produce lovely finished artwork.

They can be frustrated with the slow pace of learning such a huge endeavor as art.

I know without a doubt, that there are no shortcuts; no magic method to achieving competence in drawing and painting. But there is good news! Anyone can improve and learn to create their own work at home – if they get past two misconceptions.

1  One is that you are born with talent or you don’t have it. Talents are gifts that make some things easier to learn, or propel some artists to an extremely high level. It’s not necessary to be at that level, or even close, to really enjoy creating your own work though. Even highly gifted artists create work they do not keep and do not show to anyone. I ask students where all of Michelangelo’s work is that he did when he was young and learning art. They don’t know! We don’t have it, because no one kept it. It was practice work.

2  The second misconception, is that you can get quick tricks that will make your work instantly better instead of doing steady practice. I’m sorry, but even though the internet if full of buttons that promise secrets that will instantly change your life, it doesn’t happen with things like playing the piano, or painting a beautiful scene. There is a lot to learn, and it takes time, practice, and a well-trained teacher to incorporate the foundational insights, master the basic techniques, and discover your own personal style.

Our program is actually as short as I can make it for once a week lessons of an hour and 45 minutes. I’ve also worked to ensure that the teaching is consistent. Our teachers use the two-year curriculum I’ve worked on for 12 years now, and they go through weekly training. The curriculum has been written out in specific steps and with set times for each step and sub-step. They have explanations and videos of me doing every single demo that they can access at any time, 24/7/365.

After working with over 1500 students, some for as many as 12 years, I can guarantee you that if you stay with it, and follow our lessons, you’ll be able to work on your own.

You can be the artist you dream about.

Local Frame Shops

Local Frame Shops

Damico Frame & Art

If you’re looking for someone who will take care to make your work look as good as possible, this is the place you’ll find him. Michael Damico is the best of the best.  Many of our students get there work framed here. Tell him Firstlight sent you!

Hobby Lobby

You can find inexpensive but nice frames and mats for DIY, or you can have the knowledgable folks working here help you with a custom job. They usually have a coupon online, and frames are discounted often (usually every other week).