Drawing School

How we teach drawing

Our once per week classes at ActonArt are presented along a guided or semi-guided demonstration model where instructors lead students through logical thinking processes and actual drawing sequences. Students work on their own artwork independently and follow the "process" as presented by the instructor. Using this instructional technique students are able to see the drawing being built as a demonstration in front of them, yet also work independently by interpreting and following the verbal and visual instructions. Most of the learning takes place as a result of the hands-on execution by each student as they model their artwork process after the instructor's drawing. Instructors demonstrate how to resolve problems and move through routine issues that every artist faces during projects.

Projects are designed for each age/ability level. We make every effort to create projects that are interesting to children. Frequently we present background information on the subject matter to give students more information with the goal of engaging them even more. Students who are curious or engaged by a subject are much more likely to stay focused and pay close attention to the instructor. Typically Beginners and Basic Drawing classes feature a new project, and new subject matter each week. Intermediate level classes do have multi-week projects but the majority are single week as well.

Every project is created with a specific learning objective which varies according to the class level and student ages. Some projects may be identical regarding the subject matter but the learning objectives may be different depending upon age level. The learning objectives are age-appropriate and provide enough flexibility that students who fall above or below the average skill-set can still learn and benefit.

ActonArt provides necessary materials and supplies for all regular foundation drawing classes. We use very high quality supplies that are capable of producing excellent results. Students are expected to have respect for the materials and supplies since they are shared by many classes. Portfolio and specialty classes may have additional materials charges due to the quantity or artist grade quality of supplies provided.

We consider Foundation class projects completed in class to be exercises that lead students through specific learning objectives. Many students will create stunning artwork which is clearly worthy of being seen as "fine art" but we do not recommend that students represent it as original artwork outside of the studio in exhibitions or competitions. All artwork produced in classes belongs to the student and they make take it home at any time.

ActonArt classes are designed to provide the best possible learning experience for every student. Our standards are high and we constantly measure our performance. To create and maintain this environment we must require appropriate behavior from our students. Any activity which distracts/disrupts other students in the class (including late arrival) is unacceptable. Students will always be given reasonable opportunities to modify unacceptable behavior and remain in a class. However, if students persist with classroom disruptions we have no choice but to remove them. We understand that many children have behavioral and/or learning disabilities which may influence their classroom behavior. The ActonArt experience can greatly benefit these children, and we will always try to be as flexible as possible, however we cannot allow any class to be repeatedly disrupted. Please help us to help your children by reinforcing these classroom requirements. If you have questions or concerns please speak with us.

Our Mission & History

WE HAVE LONG NOTED that virtually every master artist of the past received detailed and comprehensive instruction when they were young. Even artists far back in history were trained as apprentices prior to themselves attaining any notoriety. Leonardo and Michelangelo both worked as apprentices for years prior to working independently. More contemporary artists like Picasso, Matisse and many others attended formal art schools where they were taught how to draw and paint according to the standards of the day. At ActonArt, our approach is to teach children the skills needed to draw and give them the confidence to see themselves as "artistic" regardless of the career path they choose. If everyone had just a bit of the skill and soul of an artist, the world might be an even more beautiful place.

ACTONART PROVIDES drawing and fine art instruction to students ranging in age from five years to adults. Our curriculum driven program is designed to teach to the strengths and abilities of general age ranges, however our class sizes are limited and small so we can focus on the needs of individual students as well. Our program and class structure has evolved over the years into a comprehensive presentation of core concepts and developmental skill building projects built around student friendly topics and drawing subjects. We offer classes that are specific to elementary, middle-school, and high-school children, intermediate and advanced level students, and even students who are developing portfolios for further study in art schools and colleges. We also have adult classes for people looking for personal enrichment and individual skills development.

ACTONART HAS BEEN OPERATED as a Massachusetts LLC from the very beginning. We do no fundraising campaigns and receive no discounts or tax breaks available to non-profit organizations. All of our revenue is generated by classes and workshops. The value of our classes and quality of instruction is considered by many current and past student families to be among the highest in the region while our tuition remains competitive with all other community arts and music programs.

Our Mission

OUR MISSION is to provide the highest quality drawing and fine art process and technique instruction to children, teens and adults. We will always endeavor to accomplish this goal by creating a safe, supportive and non-critical environment for students. We believe that everyone can benefit by learning foundational drawing skills whether they intend to use them in their careers or as a means of personal self-expression or enjoyment. Art is one of the oldest and highest accomplishments of mankind. We can think of no better purpose in life than to teach the skills that allow people to express themselves artistically regardless of their fields of study or careers.


ActonArt opened in June of 2003 with 30 students in a five-class summer program. Our schedule now lists approximately forty weekly classes. During the past seventeen years we have added a number of classes tailored to various student populations. Among them are Portfolio level classes which are designed to provide high level instruction for students who wish to pursue fine and commercial art careers, and classes designed for the interests and schedules of adults.

Our Teachers & Staff

ActonArt teachers photo
(Front) Jackie, Roxanne, Julie (back) Chloe, John, Joanne, Sahar, Chris
ACTONART fosters the relationships of learning and growth, challenge and esteem-building, creativity and expression, experimentation and risk, accomplishment and pride. Learning to "draw" only scratches the surface of what students experience at ActonArt each week. Learning a process, developing a plan, maintaining concentration, coping with "mistakes" and creating artwork are daily experiences for drawing students.

DRAWING AND CREATING ART are very personal experiences. That means the people who teach it must have skill, vision and empathy. The condensed biographies below barely hint at the richness and commitment that these individuals offer to ActonArt students every day in their studio classes.

WE COULD FILL A BOOK with glowing adjectives describing our teachers. They ARE the quality in our programs. They bring remarkable energy and creative inspiration with them every day. They learn about every student in the classes and consider each and every one's needs to ensure they are both learning and engaged. Many of us had fantastic art teachers when we were young. We want your children to feel the same way when they are grown.


John Goodnough

John is the founder/owner/director of ActonArt, a teaching artist who is passionate in his belief that drawing is a life-skill that everyone can and should learn. He spent the early part of his career after graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences working first as a biomedical photographer/illustrator, and then as a commercial Art Director and designer. In 2003, John combined his artistic talents, scientific interests, and natural teaching ability with Joanne's business knowledge and experience to create and offer the unique ActonArt Drawing School program.

Roxanne Vanslette

Roxanne joined ActonArt in 2006. She's a highly skilled artist specializing in graphite and pastel portraiture. She has years of experience teaching art, crafts, and art history in a variety of programs. Roxanne is a certified Art Teacher in Massachusetts with a B.S. in Art Education and has worked in both public and private schools. Roxanne embraces the arts with a desire to learn all she can and share the knowledge with her students. She also initially developed our Manga program and our advanced drawing classes like Faces, Features and Figures. Examples of Roxanne's own artwork can be seen here.

Julie Ripley

Julie began teaching at ActonArt in 2010. She is a professional artist who works primarily in oil paint and an MFA graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She regularly exhibits in local shows including the Brickbottom Gallery in Somerville, 1581 Gallery in Brookline, and the Somerville Museum. She has also shown in various parts of the county as well as the Pompidou Center in Paris. In 2013 she received 2nd place in the John Peto National Trompe L’oeil competition. Julie's web site is here.

Chris Parent

Chris is a graduate of Monserrat College in Beverly, MA. Chris is our Education Manager overseeing the content of our program, responding to parent questions and building most of the projects we present. He is a skilled illustrator and sculptor capable of working in a variety of subjects and mediums. Years ago Chris developed many of his current skills as a young Manga artist and today contributes his own knowledge and experience to all of our Manga classes. His background as a sculptor has also made it possible for us to offer both workshops and more recently a full year sculpting class. Chris is also a certified Art teacher in Massachusetts. His web site is here.

Jackie Musto

Jackie is a graduate of Montserrat College of Art, and a professional illustrator and comic creator who has applied her trades to video games, book illustration and character designs for indie films! She also creates writes and illustrates comics, including two of her own. Her skills working in the field are passed on to her students in Fantasy classes and Fashion Design, as well as to prospective college-bound students in the Advanced Drawing and Portfolio classes. You can see one of Jackie’s web sites

Sahar Ghavimi

Sahar joined ActonArt as a foundation class teacher in July 2018. She is a highly skilled artist who works in a variety of mediums including marquetry (wood veneers precisely cut and inlaid to simulate painted images) mosaic tileworks, painting, drawing and more. She has taught a variety of fine art classes at the Fitchburg Art Museum, Mount Wachusett Community College, and Leominster Library. Sahar has previously taught Kindergarten and special needs students in Iran. Samples of Sahar’s artwork can be seen at her web site and on instagram

Carly Faber

Carly first came to ActonArt as a young student who loved drawing and art. She attended classes with us all through middle and high school. Upon graduation she attended Mass. College of Art where she completed her degree program at the end of 2021. She has taught summer classes and programs at ActonArt while she was completing her college curriculum. She also received her MA teachers certificate. Carly is a skilled artist who loves working with children. We feel lucky to have come full circle and have her return to ActonArt to continue teaching the next generations.

Chloe Goodnough

Our Studio Manager has been with ActonArt in various roles since its inception as she grew up working there from a very young age. Her Marist College degree in Media Studies and Production, with concentrations in television, film, darkroom photography, and psychology, further developed her artistic and people skills. She is a talented videographer, video editor, photographer and artist. She’s taught children’s workshops in film and worked on video teams creating content for national marketing campaigns and community television. She loves working with people of all ages and specializes in getting things done.

Joanne Leunig

Joanne oversees the operations side of ActonArt Drawing School. She is a Massachusetts CPA with a Masters Degree in Accounting. She has worked at Arthur Andersen, Avid Technology, and most recently EMC where she was a senior Finance Manager. She IS the sole left brained leader among us with the skill to make ActonArt work.