What started out as art lessons for neighborhood children in Rachel Liles’ kitchen has now grown into a thriving business called How Great Thou Art Painting Studio.
“It started with kids, but then parents wanted to learn how to paint,” Rachel said, “I started looking for a spot [for the business]. I had too many people and too many strangers coming in and out of my house.” The first location was on Brook Street, but in October the business moved to Kemp Boulevard in the shopping center with Hamilton Bryan.
Rachel did not have the opportunity to be taught art when she was young, but with determination she eventually became the artist and teacher that she is today. “I grew up in Throckmorton and we didn’t have an art program in the school, so art was something I picked up by myself since I was a little girl. It was a hobby,” she said, “Then I went to MSU [Midwestern State University], and I took a lot of art classes there.”
“My family originally moved to Wichita Falls to buy Pascal’s Restaurant, and I would hang my art there. That is how people knew I could paint, and it got me business,” she said. She loves creating art and says that teaching comes naturally to her. “I feel the need to share it with people and I enjoy doing art by myself, but I get bored with that. I need people,” she stressed. “I think it is a calling for me to teach people. A weird fact about myself is that I hate talking in front of people, but if I am talking about art, I can’t shut up.”
“I teach every third Thursday at the Kemp Center for the Arts, and I teach 2 days a week at Christ Academy [private school]. I do the secondary art there, as well as at the studio,” she added.
The name of the painting studio came about from her Christian roots. “I was raised singing the old hymn, How Great Thou Art. I was just humming it one day, and I realized that it would be a great play on words.” How Great Thou Art Painting Studio started out with just the kid’s studio and painting classes and then came the adult classes with acrylics. “With the adults, we focused on paint and sip, where people bring their wine. We give them a starting point with a theme and teach them brush techniques and color mixing and sometimes we use a palette knife,” she explained. “When they leave they feel like they have something they can be proud of.”
“Beginners are welcome, and it is not stuffy. We are laid back, but you are learning something. I think that is important that it just isn’t for fun. It is really a creative outlet. Rachel will be helping children learn about art at this year’s Art & Soul Festival.
Find out more about How Great Thou Art Studio at www.howgreatthouartstudiowf.com or find them on Facebook.
-Cindy Kahler Thomas