I once said I had a third-grader's artistic ability, and my friend responded with, "that's insulting to third-graders." As a 36-year-old, I have come to grips that art just isn't my thing. I appreciate beautiful things and can do some impressive things with a computer, but typically tragic when the pencil meets the paper. Now, after six months of quarantine, I find myself in my breakfast nook surrounded by an assorted rainbow of oil paint and a blank canvas, wondering what am I doing?
During COVID, I have spent many hours brainstorming ways to create community and connection with our middle school and high school students despite not meeting in person. With weekly zoom chat, endless phone conversations, and a live YouTube video program, we were still looking for new ways to do things together without being together. That's where, despite my complete lack of artistic skill, we decided to host a virtual art night.
Students were encouraged to raid their supply cabinets for paintbrushes, canvas, paper, palettes, color pencils, paint, watercolors, pastels, whatever they could get their hands on. Through the tutelage of the legendary Bob Ross, we embarked on a journey to create "happy trees" or at least a lot of laughter and, in the end, some pretty impressive artworks, and a couple that would only win mothers vote in an art competition.
We spent almost an hour and a half together painting a piece titled "Bubbling Stream." Is this something I might take up consistently once COVID is gone? Probably not, but I do know despite my sloppy artwork, we experienced a moment of togetherness in a season full of isolation. And that is beautiful.