Homeschool kids’ art work on display in Belleville

D.J. Staniec, 8, puts finishing touches on the sun in this acrylic painting which will be exhibited at the Art on the Square gallery.
D.J. Staniec, 8, puts finishing touches on the sun in this acrylic painting which will be exhibited at the Art on the Square gallery. News-Democrat

It is not until one turns left from the tidy foyer that one sees “where the magic happens.”

That’s where paint-splattered tables rest amid dozens of art projects, some by mom and artist Belinda Sigstad, others by her art students. Sigstad has long been an artist specializing in patterns and texture, and more recently, she’s been a homeschooling mother to her daughter Faith. She leads an art class of about 12 homeschooling students once a month.

The Art on the Square Gallery in Belleville is exhibiting several of the students’ projects this weekend. The students are all with Moxie Kidz Connection, a self-admitted “loosely organized” group of homeschooling families.

Their first exhibit will include “Fly Free,” inspired by Pablo Picasso’s work. The piece will be shown as a 12-piece puzzle, and within each piece a child and his or her mom and a handprint. The layers of paint — splattered on, smooshed around or painted — may obscure the details, but the butterfly’s overall picture is one of cubism that shows the butterfly in multiple viewpoints.

Ryan, 6, and Heather Hoague, 8, are homeschooled by mom Gloria, of Fairview Heights, who uses Abeka curriculum. She says the system does have art projects, “but it’s a lot of cut-and-paste type stuff,” she said.

“My daughter especially has always shown an inclination to creativity and to making a mess,” Hoague said.

Heather’s creativity was at work at the last Moxie Kidz meeting on May 20, carefully painting a landscape with a mountain on a paper towel tube.

Her brother was perhaps not as careful but more inclined to show his excitement over the project: “There’s three fish and some coral, a mountain and a hawk... I’ve been in a submarine and saw some sharks ...”

“No, you haven’t,” Heather said.

“Yes I did, there were sharks!” Ryan insisted.

Gloria later clarified that Ryan’s submarine was at the World Aquarium in St. Louis.

Sigstad has used several of the projects to tie the kids’ activities and interests directly to the art.

She taught the students proportion for an animal-sculpting project. She said she “got silly” with it, asking “is this the size of the head?” by holding up balls of obviously wrong sizes for the bodies.

Robert Hunsaker, 6, did a dog — but not any dog. “This is Charlie the ranch dog. He lives in the middle of nowhere on a ranch. He scares the cows away from eating the flowers out of the flower bed.”

Writing their favorite thing about the animal was part of the project, Sigstad said.

Her daughter Faith, 7, chose a stingray to craft, paint pink and name Joybell.

“A stingray is a simple animal, and it doesn’t have legs,” she said, and legs are tougher to create.

“An octopus is like ‘dooooooo-doooooo’ and it has eight legs,” she said, waving her arms to demonstrate the number and length of octopus tentacles.

The 12 animals will be displayed together with the artist’s story about the creature.

“This art class has opened a whole new world to DJ... I’ve never really thought about painting,” said homeschool mother Melinda Staniec.

Her boys, DJ, 8, and Jonathan, 5, quickly and energetically moved from one project to the next, finishing up their part of “Garden of Joy” and moving on to landscape painting.

Staniec says she now uses art time as a motivator for DJ to do his homework: “Well, if you want to paint this afternoon, you have to do your homework,” she says. “He’s fallen in love with it.”

Moxie Kids Connection expects 50 to 60 people at the show’s opening at 11 a.m. Saturday, and the moms are supplying finger foods and some beverages. They plan bright-colored tablecloths and “splattered cupcakes,” which they expect their kids will enjoy.

Contact reporter Mary Cooley at or 618-239-2535. Follow her on Twitter: @MaryCooleyBND.

If you go

What: Moxie Kids Connection’s art show

When: Opening reception with appetizers is 11 a.m. Saturday. The exhibit is open until 7 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 30 Public Square, Belleville, 618-416-3390