Artists are solitary people. They don’t socialize during lunch breaks because there is no lunch break. Cocooned in quiet creative zones, they’ve had no complaints about recent stay-at-home directives; they were planning on it anyway.
By Jackie Lee | Sun Fine Arts
I talked with three artists about full-time isolation in the studio, undertaking something new, and their thoughts for future projects when restrictions end. Predictably, they were upbeat. The challenge is not to absorb the tragedies of the pandemic. Artists have ignored that tendency, visualized a silver lining in the pandemic cloud to maintain equilibrium, and concentrated on the gift of extra time to create.
Amanda is a dedicated artist in a family of artists, and has been an art teacher as well, most notably for a long time at the Sonoma Community Center. Her mixed media artwork references her love of birds and nature through exploration of colors, textures, shapes, and lines. Pendants display the vibrant colors of birds, professionally printed on aluminum with a UV coating; her bird-nest necklaces incorporate a handwoven nest wrapped around a variety of beads or charms made of glass, ceramic, metal, crystal, or semiprecious stones. Nests are symbolic for those who cherish the unique meaning of home or family.
When shelter-in-place came into effect in 2020, Amanda said she could no longer sell art in person. “In general, events and sales through galleries have greatly decreased,” she said. She turned her creative time toward taking virtual art classes. “The classes I have taken have mainly been focused on mixed media, watercolor painting, assemblage, and a variety of jewelry making courses from bead embroidery to metal-smithing.” Adding an online shop to her website was a top priority, using the gift of extra time provided by Covid stay-at-home restrictions. Greeting cards continue to be popular purchases on her website, but she misses the personal connections and discussions.
She looks forward to creating a new series post-Covid using new techniques she has been exploring, and releasing new jewelry designs as they develop. “I have to keep my hands busy, so you can always find me creating and exploring something new.” Amandakraussart.com.
“The last year has been an unusually strange time for all of us as we have tried to survive the pandemic and the cascading turmoil of daily life,” says Fred. “Fortunately, I have kept my head above water… at least for the near future. Now, when starting a new painting, I think ‘it needs to be the best ever’ and I am motivated to work even harder.”
When the pandemic started a year ago, Fred had to cancel most of his planned activities, including the Art Encounters program he had created for the local Kenwood elementary school, and the related dinner party fundraiser for that program. He also had to cancel his fifth annual exhibition in the Alley Gallery in Sonoma in September, and close his home gallery as well.
“To compensate for those negative situations, I created a digital catalog of all my available artworks on my website, offering discounts on everything, and I sold several items. But as the pandemic has persisted, catalog sales decreased. Hopefully, things will improve soon.
“Besides the catalog of my personal art, there is another small catalog of artworks created by other artists (and myself) during the Art Encounters program at Kenwood School. One hundred percent of any purchases from this catalog will go directly to support the school.” Parkerfineart.com
“It was not so hard to work at home in the studio when times changed this past year,” Jenny reports. “Before the shelter-in-place mandate, I disciplined myself to work several hours daily in the studio. My Cavalier companion and I walk the few steps to my studio oasis, where I can escape the COVID crisis and national drama of the past year.”
She begins her routine with studio business and cleaning, for a fresh start every day. “My best artistic hours are around 3 to 5 p.m. It’s really hard to stop the creative juices during that time. Occasional walks have always been a source of energy and regeneration, where I can spend many hours observing the details of nature, even from my small backyard.”
Jenny likes to experiment with all types of mediums. “The fluidity of waterscapes will always be in my artistic repertoire. Currently, I visualize a tide-pool body of work with the attraction of light and bubbles on water surfaces, and I want to return to some of my watercolor stone paintings as well.” She will show her pastel landscapes at Arts Guild of Sonoma in April and May this year, and has designed precious silver stone pendants.
“I really miss gallery openings and look forward to the day we can mingle, talk about art and socialize in a casual gallery setting. Sounds wonderful.” Whitfieldfineart.com.
Art calms the soul and presents the beauty of the planet even during trying times. It has survived countless world sagas and indications are it will survive Covid, too.
Jackie Lee is an artist/writer focused on the Sonoma fine art scene. Reach her at [email protected]