Local artists going online during pandemic

It's no secret - performers like to perform and artists like to create.

During these self-isolating times due to the coronavirus pandemic, alternative ways of connecting with like-minded people are taking an online turn.

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Mike Smith, a local musician, is hosting musical interludes for his Facebook friends, while painter Christina Watts and potter Leanna Carlson are reaching out to teach classes virtually.

Smith found himself self-isolating after a recent trip to Costa Rica at the beginning of March when things just started to get ramped up on the coronavirus pandemic front.

Smith is part of a band, formerly known as Bralorne, now called Blacksmith, that had gigs booked and canceled as far in the future as July.

"This is going to affect musicians, entertainers obviously around the whole world," Smith said.

"It's pretty sad, especially when I look at the news at these idiots down in Florida on the beach with no regard for anybody else other than themselves. Now it's evident that a bunch of these people are going to end up with it."

Smith said he hasn't been out but he likes what he's been seeing and hearing on social media about how Prince George residents are doing their part to stay home and respecting the rules of social distancing in the stores. 

"So I started thinking about playing songs for people online and figured it out," Smith said. 

He usually performs at 4 p.m. and has been sent videos of himself singing on people's big screens. 

"I will be doing this on a regular basis and I've got lots of comments from people," Smith said. "I think it helps a little bit. It takes people's minds off it and realizing there's others doing their part and staying home. Hopefully we all get through this together and the sooner the better."

Another artist who is offering online lessons is Leanna Carlson who has offers up on her Clay Gymnasium, a Facebook page that offers a path to lessons for both children and adults.

When people recently started making requests for online clay classes, Carlson thought it was a great idea.

She started with a practice lesson to see how it would work and using the platform Zoom that is really easy to use, she said, there didn't seem to be any problems. Carlson is offering regular classes, with supply pick up and item drop off on a table at her doorstep so that she can fire the pottery art, always keeping social distancing at the forefront. 

"After I fire it for them, people can paint their items with acrylics at home," she said.

To get started, visit Clay Gymnasium on Facebook or email claygymnasium@gmail.com

Christina Watts has a local art studio and has found reaching out online can be a great way to teach.

Watts uses Zoom that allows the user to control how they access the class with visual or audio options.

"It helps keep the classes running smoothly and it's very much like a real class in real time and the instructor is there to help," Watts said. "People can hold up what they've been painting and show video feed for it and I can provide feedback or suggestions."

There are family classes for drawing, sketching and watercolour that are appropriate for the whole household, she said. There is a different project each week.

"They are in real time - we don't record them," Watts said.

She wants people to be able to chat and be open during the class just like they would if participants were at an in-person event.

Class size is still limited so each person gets the individual attention they need, she added.

The Watts Academy is still in operation but social distancing is the priority.

Watts said without the in-person aspect of lessons, reaching out with the paint brush to help someone is out of the realm of possibility. 

"We still want to get close to help each other but that's not possible any more and it's something we all have to get used to," Watts said. "If we all just help each other we'll get through this."

Check out Watts Art Academy in PG on Facebook.

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