Art Discussion

Creating Is Vital Yet $$$ : Let’s Make It Accessible

For those who don’t know, I am here to tell you today that art supplies are ridiculously expensive. Creative expression has so many mental health benefits; it can be a productive way to release negative emotions like stress and anger, a relaxation tool, a way to divert oneself from anxious thoughts, a way to inspire oneself about life again and provide something in the day to look forward to, and a tool for communication when one is feeling unheard. Sadly, the high cost of accessing the tools to pursue the arts limits who can participate. Oftentimes the people who could benefit most from creative expression also have the most significant barriers in accessing supplies and classes, such as low income individuals of all ages, those with disabilities, and older adults. Aside from the mental and emotional benefits, with enough practice creative pursuits can provide important side income for those who are struggling, but first they need to be able to get in the door to begin with. 

I direct an inclusive arts program for adults of all abilities at Creative 360 Studio and Gallery. It is open to everyone, geared towards being an accessible and comfortable environment for adults with physical, intellectual, and psychological disabilities. I love where I work because their mission is to open that door to allow all people to experience the creative process. With the Express Yourself Artshop program, we have a host of professional working artists offering classes with collegiate level instruction, broken down so that all different levels of experience and learning styles can follow along. We offer affordable costs of instruction, provide materials, and offer scholarships. We have a Student Of The Month program where we award a special gift in the form of specific supplies in that student’s area of interest to someone who has stood out as going above and beyond to learn, grow, and succeed. It isn’t always easy, but it’s the right thing to do. Think of how much untapped potential is out there, simply because someone didn’t have access to even get started.

What can arts organizations do to help everyone tap into their undiscovered potential?

  • Always have a scholarship fund through grants, sponsors, and donations, not only for classes, but for juried shows as well. I understand the need to charge entry fees to cover salary for employees prepping for a show, reception costs, and advertising. I also know many artists who never exhibit or enter competitions not because they are “lazy” or don’t want to bother, but because they can’t afford the $35-50 entry fee. 
  • Seek donations so supplies can be provided, even if just for certain special classes or programs. You have no idea how many artists have brand new or like new supplies mounted up in their studio just collecting dust, and artists love to de-stash especially to causes that are getting more people into the arts. Another idea is to start a personal needs pantry, but with a twist … instead of food and toiletries as is traditional, creative supplies!

What can working artist do to help their fellow creatives get off the ground?

  • Donate when you can! Donate money to scholarship funds for local arts programs, or directly pay for a class or sponsor an entry fee for an artist in your life who you know wants to participate in something but can’t afford it right now. If you can’t donate cash, but have some extra supplies you don’t use as much, share with someone who doesn’t have access to supplies right now. If you get an amazing BOGO deal on paint, brushes, canvases, etc. share the extra or donate it to an organization that provides arts education. 
  • Share skills! Get together with other artists you know, and commit to showing the group how to do one thing that is within your area of expertise for free in exchange for them doing the same for you. Trading knowledge is always a win-win. Volunteer together to host a free art event in your community.  What is daunting to try to do alone won’t even feel like work when you have a group of talented and passionate people pulling together.
  • Don’t be a supply snob. Don’t scoff at other creators or be judgey when you see them using dollar store or economy grade supplies. Starting somewhere is better than not bothering to try in the first place, and at the end of the day a non-skillful artist can have all the fancy, expensive supplies in the world, but their work is still going to fall flat.

monica

This portrait was created during downtime at Artshop by fellow artist, Artshop drawing and painting instructor, and frequent collaborator Emiliano Vega using 50-cent-per-bottle craft paints. Mic drop.

Due to Covid, many schools are eliminating “extras” such as art, music, and gym. This is the only place many kids can get free art instruction. Now more than ever, making art accessible is vital.

I love sharing demos of affordable projects I’ve done with my Artshop crew, especially those inspired by art history. Check out these lovely Matisse inspired bowls!

If you’d like to snag some of Emiliano’s work, he has prints for sale on his featured page in my ebay shop.

 

 

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Interior Design

Art and Furniture … It’s That Time of Year Again!

Since I first learned about the opportunity back in 2012, I’ve looked forward to participating in the Midland Area Homes furniture art auction every year. The organization assists in finding safe and affordable housing for low-income families, or those currently at-risk for homelessness or already homeless. I am not the richest person in the world, and I know many people who think if they don’t have dollar bills bulging out of their pockets like Mr. Monopoly, they can’t do anything to help. Anyone can give, because there are more things to donate besides just money. For me, it happens to be time (which I happen to also greatly enjoy spending – bonus!) and some of the extra paint I have lying around from previous projects. For you, it may be something else. Yes, we all have our own problems to deal with, but if we think we have to wait around until our own life is perfect before we are willing reach out and offer help, I have a sinking suspicion that we never will.

This year I’m working on upcycling a donated sofa table that used to have that horrible, 1980s bright orange oak stain. It is now covered in lovely gold, white, and grey retro flowers and since I can’t keep it, I am most definitely planning to smooth talk my boyfriend into letting me refinish his/our? coffee table like this. I really don’t have a definitively “feminine” decor style AT ALL, yet he is still always accusing me of trying to make his stuff *foofy*. I am literally staring at a t-rex skeleton home decor accessory as I type this right now. I am so not foofy.

I adore any opportunity to combine my two deepest loves of art and interior design, and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my pieces over the years! Hint hint, if you are desiring a cool design over any boring old piece of furniture you own that’s seen better days, I’m your girl.

2012 Wizard of Oz children's picnic table

2012 Wizard of Oz children’s picnic table

2013 Whimsical Under The Sea  Adirondack chair

2013 Whimsical Under The Sea Adirondack chair

2014 outdoor coffee table accented in graphic diamonds and cameo decoration

2014 outdoor coffee table accented in graphic diamonds and cameo decoration

Upcycled sofa table for this year in golds and greys and retro-fantastic flowers!

Upcycled sofa table for this year in golds and greys and retro-fantastic flowers!

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