Quarantine and paint, anyone?

Sarah Shaw posing in front of the water. Photo credit: Courtesy of Sarah Shaw

Finding yourself bored during the COVID-19 quarantine? Grab your brushes and paint along with Durham’s very own Bob Ross.

Sarah Shaw, a self-employed art teacher in Whitby, is offering free online art classes for adults and children.

Sarah Shaw posing for the camera
Sarah Shaw posing for the camera. Photo credit: Courtesty of Sarah Shaw

Shaw is currently offering painting and drawing sessions via Facebook Live where anyone can join and paint along.

She decided to provide the classes in late March.

“This was, to me, a good way to provide a fun distraction for people who needed it,” she said. “It’s an escape for me, so yes, it clears my brain and lets me focus on my art rather than what’s happening around me.”

Shaw also hopes to ease other people’s anxieties with some painting. She believes art can help ease stress and help people relax during these challenging times. She says the paintings and drawings in her online sessions don’t require fancy tools. Shaw says simple Crayola markers could be used to recreate drawings such as this one of a beach.

Drawing of a beach created by Sarah Shaw, photo courtesy of Sarah Shaw
Drawing of a beach created by Sarah Shaw. Photo credit: Sarah Shaw

Outside of the pandemic, Shaw runs weekly private art classes. She also hosts paint nights at bars and pubs where people can dine, drink and paint along with her. As well, Shaw offers art camps in the summer where she teaches young children things such as colour coordination.

The mother of two has been painting since she was a young girl and has been teaching private art classes since 2003. Her former student Brett Lalonde, now at Durham College, has only positive things to say about her.

“She was probably the only art class that I took when I was younger and then actually stuck with it,” he said.

Lalonde posing for the camera beside a drawing he created in Shaw's class, photo courtesy of Brett Lalonde
Brett Lalonde posing for the camera beside a drawing he created in Shaw's class. Photo credit: Courtesy of Brett Lalonde

Lalonde, pictured above with some of his art from Shaw’s classes, is now in the Foundations of Art and Design program.

“The second I got to Sarah’s place it sort of stuck because she allows her students to more or less do what they want, but will then encourage them to more or less just go outside of their parameters after a while,” said Lalonde.

He says he’s interested in revisiting his former teacher through her online classes.

Shaw is not only running them for free but she is also offering her own materials at a small cost.

“I do offer that people can come buy or borrow from me, so I set aside a little package for them for porch pickups,” she said. “Everything of course is cleaned and sanitized but then it’s put out on the porch for people to come and pick up.”

Currently, Shaw leaves out easels, paints and brushes. People just have to return them when they’re finished.

Shaw’s original post about her livestreams was shared more than 15,000 times and just under 400 people joined her first online class. The livestreams are still available on Facebook for people to watch again.

“There’s been great feedback and attendance for that,” she said.

The first online class was held on March 25 where people joined her to paint a bunny on canvas.

Shaw painting a bunny during her livestream
Shaw painting a bunny during her livestream Photo credit: Kaitlyn Chaisson

Shaw talked through the process of painting and even gave little tips along the way during her online class.

She has held seven livestreams so far and has four more planned for April. Due to popular demand, Shaw has slowly been updating the list and adding more live events.

Shaw’s Facebook Live can be found at https://www.facebook.com/sarahshawsartstudio/