Color outside the lines

By Kim, Thanh Nien News

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Nguyen Thi Hue Huu guides a kid at her first free art class inside Huu La La shop at 98 Nguyen Du Street in Ho Chi Minh City on April 6. The second class will be held on April 20, 2014. Photo by Kim
The small Huu La La shop located on beautiful Nguyen Du Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 was more crowded than usual last Sunday. The wooden floor was filled with crayons and papers, with colorful drawings of a bus…

Presiding over the arts and crafts melee was 30-year-old Nguyen Thi Hue Huu, a graduate of the Ho Chi Minh City’s Fine Arts University and owner of the shop. 
“I want to draw a hairy dog,” said four-year-old Bao Ngoc after she finished coloring a bus.
“What will it look like?” Huu asked.
“It [dog] rides a motorcycle,” Ngoc answered.
“Oh, no, how can a dog…? But okay, you can draw anything you like, although some will be impracticable,” smiled Huu. 
Ngoc’s mother said that her “riding dog” could have been inspired by the fact that her daughter “did see a man taking his dog on his motorbike this morning, before coming to the class.” 
“Ngoc loves drawing, but it is the first art class she’s attended. I thought she was too young to attend an art class,” the mother said.
“There is no age limitation for art. This class is like a test, which helps me to clarify each student’s level. The coming classes will be divided in basic and advanced levels. The schedule will be based on my free time,” Huu said.
Tu Tran, mother of three-year-old Tep, told Vietweek that she brings her son to the class to help him become less shy. But little Tep just smiled with a blush and ran away when asked about his drawing. 
“He turns my house’s walls and any surfaces to be his drawing board. Sometimes I am really mad about that, but I hope that taking part in a public class could be a good direction for his drawing hobby,” she said.
Opening the art class was just a random idea of Huu’s after she met some life troubles recently.
Teaching skills have never been the woman’s strength, but she has other reasons for the two-hour long class. 
“Passion and fun are what they, children, can find in this class. I just help them to figure out that art, especially drawing, is not as complicated as they or their parents think. I can learn a lot from their great imagination too, and it could help my main vocation as a designer a lot,” she said. 
Encouragement is the method Huu uses for each child. The remarks came slightly and sweetly with the “oh, my little gentleman, you have skill but you must be more patient,” “oh, lady, I will give you good marks if you keep your beautiful drawing stainless,” or “you must color faster, as you are the oldest one in the class, girl.”
The advice was well-applied by the kids, who assumed every position imaginable as they colored: sitting, standing, lying on the floor. 
Explaining the kids’ talents to their parents is also something Huu does.
“Sometimes, the adults feel annoyed and think that these drawings are just messy things. But it could be a very good beginning for a gifted kid.
 Respecting and nourishing are parent’s responsibilities.” 
Huu said she will keep the kids’ first painting in this first class to make a comparison with the next one. 
She said that the class could be a long-term project, as this is a good way for her to relieve stress. 
“Actually, I am not in the mood one day before the class. But the kids’ doodles, laughter and even crying delighted my day. I will maintain this class twice, three or four times per month. It is up to my schedule.” 
Being a single mom seems to affect heavily Huu’s point of views and attitudes to life.
 “I cannot extinguish my flaming love for art and kids,” she said. Most of the parents whose children attend Huu’s free class know her shop, products and even her plight. 
Besides opening two shops, one selling designer clothes, quilts, cushions, wooden accessories, imported ceramics and one providing baby outfits, Huu is a freelance sales executive and partner at Book Box. 
“Book Box is kind of a public project which hopes to enhance reading habits among Vietnamese. It allows readers to take any book inside but they have to donate one of their books. I think this is a nice plan, and the book box will appear soon at my children’s clothes shop Pho Ri Boutique on Mac Thi Buoi Street in HCMC’s District 1.”
Not only offering the venue, Huu will cover the expenses of making a box to store books. 
“I know the youngsters who raised the nice Book Box plan have to collect money for their meaningful project. I just give them a hand. Nothing can decorate your shop better than a box filled with books.” 

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