Monica Burrow
Original Art from BC and Beyond

Blog - A Palette of Ideas - on being an artist

(posted on 30 Aug 2020)

Hi again,

With the new normal in today's world, the last months have been odd to say the least. As the province where I live went into voluntary individual self restriction in mid March it felt like a storm was approaching. No one was quite sure about what would happen next. Would it get really bad? Would we ever see anyone again via the local artists' guild I belong to in our in person gatherings for meetings, painting together, shows, and social events?

As I felt my daily life outside our home shutting down and watching videos from China with people singing to each other from their many balconies to stay connected I took my art community on-line.

After my successful Acrylic Landscape Workshop in Sept 2019, I was asked by the participants if I would have something for them that would continue week to week, so I began a weekly paid drop in. In early March I sent around an email asking people to join me via Zoom and I gave myself a crash course. Since March 19 2020 a group of us have been meeting once a week.

I wasn't sure how it would all go. Would the artists be able to ask questions they wanted the answers to? Would everyone feel they got a fair chance to ask? Could anyone even see or hear anything in a useful way? Would people get anything out of this online thing where everyone was in a little box? (If any of you have ever seen those TV shows, the Brady Bunch or Hollywood Squares you'll understand what I mean) Up to now I haven't had a paid account, so we do one 40 min session before it kicks us out. We take a 20 minute break and sign in again for another 40 minutes. People have paid me what they can until now, and as of Sept 1 we have decided on a weekly rate based on attendance and invoiced at the end of the month by etransfer. As of Sept 1, I will switch over to an annual paid account so we can do the full 2 hours and people can stay on afterward if they want to keep painting with others for company.

Over 5 months later the verdict is in. It worked better than any of us ever suspected. People tell me they are learning. They tell me they look forward to Thursday afternoons. They tell me we have built a place of community. Of safety, of space for art. They ask their question and then paint, while listening to the issues raised by others. I can tell when some people are feeling blah, or uncertain about what to paint next. I can tell when they are done with a piece either for good or for now. People send me closeups of their work by email and I give feedback. They send in their finished pieces for Show and Tell and I send them out to the group. Comments and encouragement come back, and I send that to the person who created the piece. One member is away isolating on her boat for the summer and joined us a couple of weeks ago purely for the company. She'll be back in the fall.

The only rules are that everyone has to wear clothes! You can drink anything except your brush water, and there is no talk of the current world situation. On Thursday afternoons we are virus free. We are in a positive creative supportive space. Friendships are being forged, and learning is happening. The connection we have for a few hours every week is accomplishing more than we first suspected and, as we head into colder, shorter days, will be even more important.

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