Welcome to Lionardo Art Studio

Formerally known as Julie Dugger Art Classes for Kids, we teach exploring art classes in Grand Rapids, MI and online.

LIONARDO ART STUDIO offers art classes for children and teens that are designed to teach art techniques and inspire exploration through a variety of art mediums. Designed for creative and eager young artists, our objective is to expose kids to the fun of art and give them the tools they need to be able to create a lifetime of fearless creativity.

Our classes are rooted in fine art principles and encourage individual expression. We provide exposure and inspiration to a wide array of hands-on exploration, including painting, drawing, collage, 3D sculpture, construction, and other one-of-a-kind crafting and mixed media art making!

Our classes begin for kids as young as preschool and continue through teens. We pride ourselves with classes that grow with the child, as they discover their art interests and own style. Our goal is for each child to leave proud of their finished pieces and inspired to continue creating.

Did you know?

"Lionardo" comes from the name "Leonardo" and from the word "Lion."

Leonardo da Vinci is an artist who represents what it means to be a creative explorer. He was not only an painter but also a drafter, inventer, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor, and architect!

A lion is a symbol of bravery. It takes immense bravery to be an artist, to put yourself out there and say "look what I created today!"

-Julie Dugger,Owner and Art Teacher

Our Mission

As an exploring art studio, our goal is to provide a place for kids to explore, discover, and create art.

Kids need a creative space to explore, but just as important, kids need guidance and tools as they learn new art skills and grow as an artist. Our mission is to teach kid new ways to create art, and 
to have adults and teachers who believe in the power of their creativity. In this way, we believe that children will remain artists their entire lives, no matter where life takes them!

Wherever our studio may find you - indoors, outdoors, online, or in your own home - our mission is to provide kids with a creative place to explore and learn.

Our Philosophy

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." - Pablo Picasso

We believe every child is an artist and with the right tools, encouragement, and understanding, children will remain artists for their entire lives! An artist is not only someone who paints fine art pieces in an art gallery. An artist is the person who crafts on the weekend for fun. An artist is the small business owner who designs their own brocures. An artist is an inventor, photographer, architect, designer, animator, dancer, gardener, or an everyday person no matter their career.

We believe art is a life skill. Every child knows they are an artist, and as long as they believe that, they will remain an artist. With the right teaching that shows them the power of art, children can use these life skills to create, innovate, and interact with the world with confidence in their own ideas and creativity.

About Julie Dugger

I love teaching art. In fact, I taught my first art class when I was 15 to a group of kids who wanted to learn art. Teaching a class when I was so young (and still an art student!) taught me a few things about myself. One, I love sharing art. It's contagious to see other artists not only grow but also create in new, unexpected ways that is unique to them. I also enjoy exploring art with my students and learning along with them. Like I said, creating is contagious! It's a circle as you both inspire and become inspired. Finally, I learned to not only be a teacher but to be a mentor.

There is a saying "art for art's sake." I would disagree! To take the phrase literally, it is an empty phrase. Art exists for more than itself. We give art meaning, through sharing, community, teaching, and learning. As an artist, I love sharing my art. As an art teacher, I likewise enjoying sharing my knowledge. Can you imagine an art teacher without a student? No! It can't be! Likewise, this isn't an ideal we should encourage for artists either. Art exists for truth, beauty, and connection. That's why I love sharing art and sharing knowledge of art!

As an artist, I'm a multi-media artist, meaning I have dabbled in most art mediums. Like Leonardo da Vinci, I am a "renaisance" artist, meaning I try it all. I like drawing, painting, sculpting, inventing, designing, and animation. I enjoy a good philosophical debate (that's related to art because I discuss the philosophy in art too. Let's talk aesthetics!). I have a degree in filmmaking as well as a B.A. in illustration. I've written and illustration a children's picture book as well as directed a feature-length film.

I love teaching kids and exploring art with them! Young kids never question whether they are an artist. I always smile when a kid tell me "I'm an artist!" Kids are fearless with their creativity.

As kids grow older and into middle and high school, they become capable of taking their art to the next level, which is amazing to witness. I want to encourage young artists to adopt the mindset of a lifetime student, to still be willing to take that childlike leap and try. Even if a picture doesn't turn out exactly as expected, that's how they learn. Once teens understand consistancy and willing to keep trying, they really can do anything and their art ability has no limits.

I believe that I'm not just a teacher, but I'm also a mentor. Being an art teacher means more than teaching the how-to on how to do something. While teaching is important as certain skills need to be taught for kids to learn, I also believe in the child-led philosophy, because this sets them up with creative skills for life. So rather than teach how-to draw a cat, I would rather teach them how-to observe and replicate the shape of a cat. The distinction is important, because the latter allows them to be able to draw anything! In addition to being a teacher, I'm also a mentor, meaning I'm there to offer help, guidance, and assistance in what the students most want to learn!

I'm originally from Texas, but I have lived all over Michigan as well as in Colorado and North Carolina. I've done a fair share of traveling having once took a road trip across country from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. I have wandering spirit both in my art and in my travels! I have a saying that my art studio goes with me wherever I am. Likewise, your art studio will go with you wherever you are! Perhaps a studio isn't a place but a state of mind.

I currently live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am so excited to be here and to meet you, fellow Grand Rapids' residents. If you don't live in Grand Rapids and want to stay hi from anywhere in the world, I am also glad to meet you!

So on that note, I'm going to end this message the way many people would begin.


Contact Me to Say "Hi"


Julie is an excellent teacher. She is very knowledgeable about the subject matter, sensitive toward students’ needs, and able to instruct teens in a positive and engaging way. My daughter is learning a lot and very happy with her progress.

Conny H

My two youngest daughters really enjoyed Julie’s art classes! I still have some of their work hanging though it’s been many years, it’s just so pretty. She is very gentle and kids love her.

S Simpson

During elementary school, my kids took art lessons from Julie, sometimes after school & every summer in one of her art camps. They learned a variety of techniques & learned to express themselves through art. Both of them have continued with art in their adult lives: one in her career and the other as a hobby. Julie gave them both a great foundation, & they always had fun! I highly recommend Julie as an art teacher!