The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The Early College Program (College Courses for High School Students)
In my junior year of high school I took an Oil Painting class and senior year I took Traditional Animation class. I enjoyed them both. Oil Painting was a turning point in my artistic life because it opened my eyes to the challenges and fascination of paint and mixing colors, making things pop from the picture. It sounds simple but this was my first time experiencing it and it was phenomenal. And of course the Traditional Animation was very exciting since that was the type of career I wanted to pursue. I was interested to make animation inspired by my early childhood from Disney movies. Their classes are more on the pricey side but they do provide financial aid/grants/scholarships so make sure to apply for that when you sign up! They have a variety of courses to choose from so check them out online.
Marwen.org (FREE Art Courses)
This place is perfect for low income artists and it is only for grades 6-12. I took a course during the summer after my junior year of high school and took a figure drawing class. It was a bit weird at first because I was drawing from the nude and I was only 17 years old but I later realized it was a good experience to get a head start on it. In college I had to take more figure drawing classes, and while it was new for everyone else, I was already getting the hang of it. Marwen provides MANY awesome courses and I was sad that I heard of it right before senior year, otherwise I would have been taking all of their courses from the start.
After School Matters / Gallery 37 (Job)
I was in After School Matters right after I graduated high school and I think After School Matters was fairly new at the time. In this program they educated teens on money management, job hunting, field trips to various industries, art projects, resume assistance and we prepared a job fair. There wasn't an intense art course and they didn't teach us how to draw, we just painted on canvases with what ever skill we had. However the reason I mention it is because a few years later I saw After School Matters kids at a festival and they were painting canvases on easels and it looked way more awesome than when I was in the program. I recently learned that After School Matters now runs Gallery 37 which explains why their art program has improved. I was going to recommend Gallery 37 as a separate place to learn art until I realized that the two companies are now one. Back then in Gallery 37 they use to teach youth art and they also got paid. I remember I had my very first job interview at Gallery 37, no one taught me how job interviews were suppose to go so I did horrible and didn't get hired. I remember they asked me a question and my answer would literally be "I don't know". Anyways, this program has developed a lot over the years and I'm sure it is a great place to go now. Their mentorship was very impactful and you could tell they cared about their jobs and the teens they mentored.
Kaman's Art Shoppes
Caricatures, Face Painting, Handimals, and Photography
@ Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, and Six Flags
This is a job I gained after I graduated college. It's an art company that trains new artists how to draw caricatures, face painting, handimals and photography. This company is all over America at theme parks and it use to be only at Six Flags in Illinois but in the past recent years they expanded to Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo. I was hired for the first summer that they opened at Lincoln Park Zoo and from there I learned so much about how to draw caricatures, face painting, sales, dealing with rejection and gained friendships that could last a life time. When you join this company, you join an entire community of artists that have a passion for caricatures and face painting. They also train high school students which is why I am recommending this for youth. You get paid commission, and if you practice hard enough, you can make pretty good money. I am not currently working there but boy I wish this was available when I was in high school. It would be best to apply during the winter or very early spring because you will get the best training in the beginning of the season before the summer starts. However, I do recommend to at least take fundamentals of drawing at your local school, and painting skills is a plus.
I wanted to share this with you because I have had parents ask me where to take their kids because they like to do art but parents didn't know how to help them or where to take them. Well I hope this information is helpful for you, I know I would have appreciated it during my earlier teen years.