MORTON - Heidi Wolfe-Warner has earned the nickname “Sunshine” for her cheerful, outgoing demeanor. While living in the Chicago suburbs, she taught art to elementary school students. Since moving to central Illinois, she worked as a librarian at Grundy Elementary School and taught after-school art classes. Her husband, Scott Warner, a burly and bearded guy, bears the nickname “Steel” in tribute to his previous occupation as a union iron and steel worker in Decatur. He left that occupation, moved to Morton, and worked as a custodian at Lincoln Elementary School. In his spare time, he wrote poetry and experimented with a form of graphic text design that he calls “freedom writing.”

“Sunshine” and “Steel” recently walked away from their former professions to open Old School Arts studio in Morton. The studio’s grand opening was held June 2.

“Neither one of us is originally from the area, but our life situations have brought us to Morton,” said Wolfe-Warner. “This community has given us a warm welcome, and we’ve gotten to know people in the community. One thing we’ve seen in the local people is a yearning to be creative, and we set up a studio to respond to that longing.”

“I feel like God called me to the area, to this community, to Heidi and to this studio,” said Warner. “I believe this is where I’m meant to be and what I’m meant to do.”

While they are aware of the need for financial remuneration to continue leasing the building and keep their studio running, Warner and Wolfe-Warner do not define success in monetary terms but rather in building relationships and in helping people find their artistic talent. 

“The tagline on our logo is 'Where Souls Speak,'" said Wolfe-Warner. “We teach all ages of people, from ages 3 to 103, how to create. We believe everyone is an artist and everyone is unique and valued and within them lies a potential to create. We’re here to encourage that and to facilitate it.”

“We connect generations through art, whether it’s painting, drawing, or writing” Warner added. “We believe that the art that everyone carries inside is timeless. Some people may not realize their artistic potential, so we want to help them find their untapped ingenuity. We expect that, over time, we’ll be able to bring in other local artists to help some specific things we don’t offer.”

Wolfe-Warner teaches painting and drawing while Warner teaches poetry and freedom writing. They also offer opportunities to work in mediums such as sculpture and artisan crafts including fabric arts, pop culture crafts, and classic crafts. During Old School Arts’ hours of operation, patrons can work on projects in the studio for $10 an hour. During the school year, Warner and Wolfe-Warner will offer after-school classes to elementary school students from 3 to 6 p.m. They will pick up students from school, transport them to Old School Arts, where their parents will pick them up after class.

Old School Arts is located at 201 W. Jefferson St., Apt. A, in Morton. The studio’s hours of operation are from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. To learn more about Old School Arts or to register for classes, visit the studio’s website at oldschoolarts.com.