Erica Ziegenbein believes art is for everyone. Her passion for creating art led her to her career. She is the owner and instructor at Soulshine Art Studio located inside the Mansion on Walnut at 420 Walnut St. in Pekin.

Ever since she was in first grade, Ziegenbein knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. Ziegenbein said she had “some amazing art teachers” growing up. She credits David Laux, art teacher at Wilson Intermediate School, for really making art exciting. She also had two instructors in college who were also instrumental in her art education.

Ziegenbein taught at the Speakeasy Art Center in 2013 and was with them when they moved to the Mansion on Walnut. Once they had secured their non-profit status, the name changed to Pekin Academy of Fine Arts. Then in March 2017, the Pekin Academy of Fine Arts relocated. Ziegenbein remained in the same building, and in April 2017, she opened the doors to Soulshine Art Studio.

The name Soulshine Art Studio kept coming back to her when she was thinking of what to call her business. 

“It stuck with me and my personality,” Ziegenbein said. “I believe art should be stress-free and free of the stress to be perfect.”

Over the summer she hosted several art camps. Now that the new school year has begun, she is offering classes on a weekly basis and camps on certain occasions.

The Discovering Art series is a six-week fine art session. She teaches children how to work with charcoal and sculpture, among other mediums. However, there are no crafts. She said there are no Pinterest projects at this series. At the end of the 6 weeks, there is a student reception. Participants dress up and invite family and friends to walk through the gallery like an adult gallery opening. Refreshments are also served. 

The series is broken up by age group. Mondays are for children 10 years old and up. Tuesdays are for children 5 to 9 years old.

Drop-In Art, an hour open to all ages from toddlers to adults, is from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays.

“Literally people can use anything in the studio,” Ziegenbein said. “I teach them how to use equipment but there is no formal lesson during Drop-In Art. It’s an open exploration. We have painting, tie-dye, sculpture, and 3-D pens, which are like hot glue guns but (they dry) immediately. It’s a hit. You can draw in the air, and it creates whatever you draw.”

Not to exclude adults from formal art classes, Ziegenbein has a Wednesday class twice a month from 5 to 6 p.m. Each class is different. One week could be art journaling, and the next could be painting, she said. Although it is not required, she does encourage adults to register online. Pre-paying is not required either. 

Soulshine Art Studio also does on-site workshops. She has gone to schools and nursing homes. All the supplies are included. Recently, she traveled to Rosewood Care Center in East Peoria.

“Oh my gosh!" said Ziegenbein. "They were so excited. We painted flower pots, and after that, I brought flowers for them to pot. They loved it.”

From 2 to 5 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 28, Soulshine Art Studio is having a Halloween Party.  Children and parents are welcome to come and play games, make crafts and watch art demonstrations. The event is free.

Over winter break, they studio is having Superhero Camp. The three-day event from Dec. 27 to 29 is for children ages 5 and up and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ziegenbein said everything they do those three days will have to do with superheroes. They will make costumes and shields, paint, play games and participate in team building activities. The cost for all three days is $35.

Soulshine Art Studio also has birthday party packages available. So far the response has been positive.

“It’s amazing,” said Ziegenbein. “The owner of the house is so accommodating. It’s been great to decorate my own space. There is comfortable seating so kids can unwind in a less structured place.”

For a complete list of classes and camps, visit www.soulshinepekin.com or their Facebook page.