Trumbull Art Studio Abrakadoodle Teaches Kids In A ‘judgment Free Zone’

Trumbull Art Studio Abrakadoodle Teaches Kids In A 'judgment Free Zone'

TRUMBULL – Layla and Scarlett Treffs often hear advice from Camille Chistoni that they probably don't get from many other adults.

"We know it's okay to make mistakes," Scarlett, 9, said of Trumbull.

She and her sister Lila (11) are in Chistoni's class at AbracDoodle Art Studio in Trumbull.

Abrakadoodle is a franchise based in Virginia with offices in the United States and programs in Singapore and China. Its main goal is to bring art education to schools, camps, private clients, etc.

Chistoni, a Trumbull resident, has been teaching mobile art classes through Abrakadoodle for three years with her husband, Walter. In October, they opened a physical store at 2285 Reservoir Ave in Trumbull. The Chistans said this is the first Abracdoodle store in Connecticut.

The Trefz sisters were among the students in Camila Chistoni's recent evening art class, "Children on Canvas – Art Through the Ages," which teaches students to create art in the styles of a variety of artists and disciplines.

During a recent class, Chistny told the students about Grant Hafner, a contemporary American artist who specializes in streetscape paintings. At the beginning of the class, Chistoni showed them a painting he made in the Hafner style, talked about his technique and encouraged his students to do something similar, but not to copy the painting exactly.

In fact, the drawings made by Camille Chistoni's class contained some elements of Hafner's work, including the horizon line where the painted sky meets the painted earth. But each one was unique and decorated with flowers such as snowmen, unicorns and Christmas trees.

"It doesn't have to look like the sample we're showing you," says Walter Chistoni. "It's a judgment-free zone."

And that's one of the things Lila and Scarlett Treffs love about the classroom.

"There's nothing wrong with doing art," Leela said.

Camille Chistoni likes it, too, and says the goal of this class and other classes at Abrakadoodle is to teach kids about art and give them a chance to unleash their own creativity.

"A lot of kids come in here and say, 'I can't do this,'" she said. But, he adds, almost everyone is capable of creating art with the right motivation.

Camille has a school education and Walter has a marketing background. They found Abrakadoodle because they wanted to start their own business and franchising seemed like a good fit. They began offering Abrakadoodle classes at schools and other organizations and decided to branch out into stores.

The couple offers a variety of classes at their studio, many of which cost between $85 and $95, but prices range from $50 to $120. The average number of students is 6-10, but Camille Chistoni said he would like to see that number increase.

"It was a little slow," Camilla Chistoni said. "A lot of people are too busy right now to start something new."

But many children in the classroom seem to be getting a lot out of it, including the Treffs sisters. “We don't have to follow the instructions exactly,” Leela said.

"We can do whatever we want," Scarlett said.

To learn more about Trumbull Abrakadoodle, visit

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