On Wednesday afternoon this week Miss Lani sat on the floor with a group of young children at the children’s art studio on the campus of Featherstone Center for the Arts. The subject for the day was jaguars, and Miss Lani gave each child an article from The Wall Street Journal on jaguars and their threatened existence. The children ranged from age six to nine.

“What do we need to save the jaguars from?” Miss Lani asked.

Miss Lani teaches five classes a week and shows no signs of slowing down. — Mark Lovewell

“From Miss Lani?” one child responded.

“Do you think I’m going to bite a jaguar?” said Miss Lani, laughing. After some more back and forth and discussions about a picture of a jaguar, the children gathered up their paints and poster boards, and sat at a table.

“Close your eyes and think for a minute with your finger what shape you want to draw for that jaguar,” Miss Lani said. The kids all closed their eyes and moved their fingers silently around their papers. Then, as if on cue, they opened their eyes and got to work.

“Young children paint the spirit of the animal, not a realistic view,” Miss Lani explained to an adult visitor. “Their imagination is based on the spirit.”

Her journey could also be called one fueled by the spirit. Her full name is Lani Carney and she moved to the Vineyard to retire after more than 25 years teaching child development and psychology at the college level. But retirement did not sit well with her, and for 12 years now she has taught art to children at Featherstone. Currently she teaches five classes a week and shows no signs of slowing down. Classes are devoted to themes — animals, the work of Picasso, Keith Haring, Eric Carle, the Children’s Bill of Rights — and kids often stay with her for years. Jane Goodall has even visited the studio to talk about her work with chimpanzees.

And, of course, the children do a lot of drawing and painting. “It gives neurology a boost, nurturing the six senses,” Miss Lani said.

As if on cue a child calls out: “Miss Lani, look, my brush is swimming in the lake I’m painting.”

When the children take a break from painting for a snack of homemade blueberry buckle (made by Miss Lani, naturally), or clean up at the end of the day, they never say they are finished with a piece of art. Instead the kids say “I’m complete,” because a piece of art is never done, just at a place of completion at that moment, Miss Lani says.

In February she will lead a series of discussions for adults at the Hob Knob Inn. The talks will be about children and how to relate to their unique minds. This week she shared with the Gazette a piece she recently wrote about when she was just starting out as a teacher and trying to help a recent Viet Nam veteran see the world through his stepchild’s eyes, something that in the 1960s was ahead of its time.