Making art can focus our attention on the present moment. As you engage in a creative activity of your choosing, breathing deepens, pulse slows, and the background noise in your mind may fade. Finding the time and space to exercise our creativity, especially now, might be a welcome therapy.
We asked two of our art instructors to share their advice on how to get started. Sarah Norsworthy teaches Landscape Painting with Oils and Introduction to Drawing. Virginia Paquette teaches Abstract Watercolors, Collage and Abstraction, and Abstract Oils with Cold Wax Medium. Summer session classes will be open for registration on May 26th.
What would you say to someone who would like to make art but is struggling to get started?
Sarah Norsworthy: Keep it simple by looking around for what you have available. Glue and magazines for collage? Pencil, pen and paper? Old clothing to salvage for the fabric? Maybe you have a project that you started but haven’t finished?
Virginia Paquette: Art is driven by passion...what do you like to look at? Go look at some art and see what turns you on.
When stuck at home, what is there to paint or draw?
Sarah: I often turn to what is most immediate for painting and drawing. I might set up a table in the backyard, or in my garden, go for a walk and then return to my outdoor setup and work from memory.
Virginia: I teach abstract art, so my answer is paint what's in your head and heart.
Where can we make art? Suggestions for setting up a workspace?
Sarah: A garage or spare room can work very well. Create for yourself a little space. If you have a table and supplies set-up, you are more likely to start doing, even if it is only for 20-30 mins between other things.
Virginia: Set up where you can. I paint on a fold-out table that is about 30”x40”, on the kitchen counter or in my studio on an easel. It all depends on how big I want to paint and what medium I'll use.
What if we don't have a lot of supplies?
Sarah: Some of the best art is made out of necessity. Working within the limitations of what you have around you can inspire something really interesting. Drawings can be made with so many things. You can even draw with milk and a brush; it turns a golden brown when you hold it over some heat.
Virginia: Start simple. Pencils, charcoal, watercolor, work in a small format. I make tools by exploring alternative versions of traditional brushes. You can paint with twigs, cleaning brushes or rubber kitchen tools. And they are way more interesting!
Are you able to make art during this time? What are the struggles and benefits?
Sarah: Yes, I am making art. I do struggle a bit with focus at times but I'm structuring my days and being easy on myself. I'm working outside quite a bit and trying to do something every day. I’m sheltering in place in Shelton and have been painting on the beach mostly. I feel so much better after I make something, even if it’s small.
Virginia: Yes, I paint/draw every day, even if it is only a small sketch to record an idea or capture a fleeting vision. The biggest problem I see is not the physicality of painting, but the state of mind. It's easy to be sad or scared but taking the first step of being involved in some form of art is great therapy. You can paint your feelings and get them all out there, and it can pep you up.