For many people, creating art isn't just an activity. It's their passion.
"That psychological, emotional, creative, nurturing dimension that art added to their lives needed to continue and couldn't shut down with the social distancing," Stefano Catalani said.
Catalani is the executive director of Seattle's Gage Academy Art, a fine art school that is adapting to current world events by offering online classes, some of them free of charge. Gage's curriculum teaches sculpture, drawing, painting and many other disciplines to both beginners and advanced students. The free class I took was a watercolor workshop taught by Willow Heath.
“You don’t really have to have a lot of artistic talent to take the 'Art to Go' classes, you just have to go there and do art,”" Heath said.
Heath said she is a professional artist and instructor who normally teaches at schools and colleges in person, but is teaching Gage's "Art to Go" online courses as a way to keep in touch with her students and continue sharing her love of art. She said hundreds of people, of all skill levels, have been participating in her virtual classes including children, adults and families. Heath said she hopes her workshops help bring people together in this time of social isolation.
So, I decided to try. I drew a bird on a branch! Well, kinda.
Heath's work speaks for itself and she enabled me, someone who hasn't used watercolors in more than a decade, to create something kind of resembling a bird perched on a twig. It was fun, and a testament to her teaching ability. In fact, the most difficult part of the watercolor workshop was finding watercolors, after striking out at my grocery store (and unwilling to spend the day shopping) I ended up making my own (which was fun project in itself).
You can make your own watercolors too, and if you sign up for an online course with Gage Academy of Art, it'll be well worth the effort.
If you'd like to watch a little bit of the class and see my completed painting, watch the story above.