Connecting Through Art Digitally during Covid - 19
I’m probably one of the most social people you know. The stereotype of a lone artist toiling away in a dark studio does not apply to me in the least. Normally, teach over 50 different students a week at a variety of different locations. When I’m not teaching, I’m barely at home. I do my “admin” work in coffee shops, surrounded by familiar coffee shop staff and patrons who are now like good friends and colleagues. If the weather is nice, I’m in a park or trail painting plain air.
I don’t want to brag. But I was living the dream. I LOVED my life and I felt almost smug about how lucky I was to be doing what I loved every single day. I had my busiest season yet booked for Spring. However, with the Covid 19 Pandemic I saw my inbox flood with cancellations and my busy season evaporated almost overnight.
Like many of my peers, we were told to “pivot” our business and adjust to the “new normal.” So, like many of my peers, I went digital and tried to maintain my connections with my students, peers and friends in this new age.
I had always meant to go digital and experiment with youtube and teaching art online. I see many amazing artists offer classes and tutorials digitally. What a great way to reach people! But I’d honestly never gotten around to doing it. But in a post Covid-19 world, it seemed I now had nothing but time. So I bought some basic equipment and set up my iPhone and got filming.
On March 21st I held my first live "Paint with me" class on Instagram Live. My followers voted on a simple starry night sky. I was nervous about going live. There’s something pretty scary and unforgiving about recording yourself. Like does my voice really sound like that? Are those dark circles under my eyes really that dark? As nerve wracking as it was, after my first class my inbox and newsfeed was flooded with student’s projects and thank-you’s.
I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to see my students inspired and creating together, even from afar. So much of who I am and how I find purpose is inspiring people to be creative. There have been some dark days, but seeing my students share their art with me truly lightened up my days.
I continued the daily painting the next day and it snowballed into a nightly painting session for over a month. Each night 30 - 50 people watch live on Instagram and dozens watched the saved video afterwards. I never dreamed I’d be doing the nightly paint sessions for over a month for dozens of people!
These last few weeks have been difficult for all of us. But the silver lining for me is that not matter what I can still build connections with people through my art. I am still able to live a creative and fulfilling life.
I can’t wait to be able to meet everyone in person again. But in the mean time, from the bottom of my heart - Thank you for joining with me and creating with me online.