top of page

My Story.


I’ve had a love affair with art for as long as I can remember.

A print of Paul Klee’s “Sinbad and the Sailor” was proudly displayed on my bedroom wall, along with Tiger Beat posters and pictures of Cher. I’d stare at that print for hours, wondering about the strange and mysterious scene. Just who WAS this Paul Klee?  I wanted to know. It was around this time that I became as obsessed with

the painters, as well as the paintings.


Growing up around the misty mountains of Cape Breton Island was indeed lovely, but not exactly on the ‘Grand Tour’ for art. Family visits to the big city museums fueled a lifetime passion for art. I got lost in those museums. Literally.  Several times. Sorry Mom!


I devoured old Life magazines that I found around our home that were filled with pictures of Picasso and Jacqueline Roque at the Chateau de Vauvenargues. He an old man in tartan trousers and cashmere, she in her ever present head scarf. 

I was captivated by the romance of this magical life that seemed so far from our little island paradise. 


After studying art history in college, several wonderful years and adventures in Toronto and New York City ensued. Fashion, (my love and appreciation for Krizia, Jil Sander, and Chanel will never wane), advertising (I may not have fallen in love with the Mad Men industry but I did fall in love with a Mad Man, photographer Brian Smale) and food, (cooking school, food magazines, and food styling —art on a plate!); it all played a part that led me to where I am right now:

Staring at art and wondering about the lives

of the masters.


I’ve enjoyed all these wonderful chapters in my life, but nothing has come close to how wonderful it is to introduce a child to the playfulness of Klee, the colors of Matisse, the audacity of the Impressionists, or the genius of Picasso. Every day my students blow my socks off with their intelligent questions, their interesting viewpoints, and willingness to take ‘risks’ by diving into the unknown. So, I consider myself pretty darn lucky. 

And that’s my story. 


So do Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, and Leonardo da Vinci.


As a matter of fact, some of the greatest artists in the world come to life at every one of our classes.


They tell us about the cafe society in Paris in 1902 and the fashion, music, and sketchy politics of Italy in the 1500’s.


We’ll even discover that in the 1950’s, “The New York School” wasn’t taking any tuition. And here’s the exciting thing: We’ve figured out that by looking back at their worlds, we learn about our own. Kids dig that.


Oh yeah, and we paint. We paint London’s Parliament Buildings, and the Sunflowers of Arles. We marvel at the brilliance of Miró and smile at the joyfulness of Matisse.


And we do all this because we believe in art.

Pablo Picasso comes to visit our studio on a regular basis.

New to Early Masters?

We offer workshops in art history and painting focusing on a myriad of artists and styles. We look at everything from street art, to Da Vinci. Shelley Thomas, founder and instructor, intentionally crafts each workshop specifically to her students and balances theoretical exploration with hands on painting practice. All participants leave with a wall-ready work, crafted with high quality materials.


About Shelley
bottom of page