Creativity is key for students stuck at home for prolonged periods of time, and local artist Rae Wright is expanding her business to include virtual painting lessons for students to stay busy and engaged.
The painter and art educator is running online tutorials for elementary school kids every week day afternoon.
“When I realized so many kids were going to be without an art education, I decided to do something a little bit extra,” she said.
Wright regularly ran step-by-step painting tutorials in classrooms teaching various art techniques and concepts. When local schools shut their doors in mid-March, she had to develop creative ways to keep the classes going. She now posts live and pre-recorded videos every week day at 2:30pm on her Facebook page and encourages parents and their children to sit behind the computer and participate using any materials they already have at home. Monday classes introduce the skills of the week, Tuesday to Thursday classes are for creating the project, and Friday is a fun and unique activity in drawing or painting.
“The target age range is for children in elementary school but I simplify the techniques for the younger children and I do an advanced technique for older ones,” she said.
Wright has a two-month-old son and she holds a certificate in children’s mental health. She says art education is especially important to ease stress and anxiety during these challenging times.
“It’s important to find activities to help you find your centre,” she said. “Art is all about calming your body and mind and focusing on what’s in front of you, which can alleviate stress.”
She adds that she’s curated the tutorials to be around half an hour so that parents can take the time to sit with their kids and collaborate on a creative project together. She cites studies that show children benefit from this engagement.
“It’s a great bonding opportunity that helps children grow their sense of self. When parents engage with their children in artistic activities, [their children’s] social and emotional competency goes through the roof.”
Like many local businesses that depend on face-to-face engagement, Wright has had to adapt in other ways to support herself during a prolonged period of social distancing. With all of her in-school painting parties postponed indefinitely, she will also be hosting those sessions online as well in the coming weeks.
Participants will have to supply their own materials, though she encourages making use of everyday objects like paper, cardboard and wood as painting surfaces. The classes are $10 per computer, which means families can participate together while sitting behind one computer.
For more information, visit the artist’s website.