When COVID-19 hit, Janice Bishop said she needed an outlet.

With her business, All-Season Cottage Rentals, sidelined, she said she wanted to find something to do. Despite never having painted, she took a shot at a new online class with renowned local artist Carole Finn.

“I needed something to keep my mind active and distracted from what was happening,” Bishop said, adding her creations shocked her. “(Painting) gave me peace – like doing yoga for the mind.”

Like many, Finn had to adapt her art classes to the realities of the pandemic. She began offering a workshop online using tools such as Photoshop to help guide painters. She said the results were strong and she began exhibiting works the class produced at her home gallery July 1. Finn said she kept teaching a small number of five or six students, including one from British Columbia.

Though social interaction is limited compared to in-person classes, Finn said the format makes for a more focused experience.

“You have to be willing to take the time to work and get it done instead of talking,” Finn said.

Professional potter Barbara Joy-Peel also took the course and said she enjoyed what it taught her.

“It’s worked out well,” she said. “It gave a social outlet too because we were communicating with the rest of the class.”

Student Joanne O’Keefe has been painting for 10 years. She said the online classes were more flexible than in-person, which allowed her to attend.

“The only reason it happened was because of Zoom,” O’Keefe said. “It was a great experience and I’ve become a better artist because of it.”

The student art exhibition will continue running until July 12 at Finn’s artist’s centre at 15 Newcastle St. in Minden, with masks and sanitizing required. The online classes are available by messaging Finn at finn@ halinet.ca.

“I have to go back to work but I will definitely continue to paint as a hobby because I continue to amaze myself with what I’m doing,” Bishop said. “It was just a really positive experience.”

“I believe creativity is in everybody,” Finn said. “It’s so much fun to be able to help people discover that they really can do it.”

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