At the same time a young person is figuring out his or her personality, a creative style is also being forged. After pinpointing a need for a place where this exploration can happen, mom and former teacher Julie Scarlata opened Lalu, a creative arts studio in the Berkeley neighborhood, to give kids a free space to test out their artistic ambitions outside of a coloring book. “Kids should be exposed to art young,” Scarlata says. “It can go beyond fingerpaints and play dough.”

In June, Scarlata opened the studio inside a 1930s building on the re-blossoming Tennyson Street. The small space holds two community tables primed with white paper for paint-covered hands and stray colored pencil streaks. Unlike the popular sip and paint classes, Lalu’s classes—which range from a parent and child “Create with Me” option to mixed-media instruction—start with a general concept then the kid-artists are set free to create a project from their own creativity without rigid guidelines. The young creatives focus on their creativity, while their development extends to motor and problem-solving skills.

Scarlata says that parents should ask questions about why their child chose a certain artistic direction rather than sticking a value (like “That’s a good fish drawing”) on their work. “Lalu is about art, and how an artist finds and plays with their creative voice,” Scarlata says. “Kids have this voice inside, we just need to help them express it.”

Visit: 4317 Tennyson St.,