Around the first week of March, Natalie and I were out for my Birthday brunch. Come to think of it, I think it was my last lunch date with a girlfriend! Now an official part of the Art of Marina Family, first some history on Natalie and I: We are both female entrepreneurs in the city, doing our thing; both part of the Toronto Business Babes, which is where we met and just clicked. She is the founder of Toronto’s luxury Vent Blow Dry Bar – an amazing place for the best blowouts, updos and makeup applications. The place makes you feel like a queen.
I even painted her because I love her that much.
But back to brunch.
So there we were, chatting about my painting classes and Natalie said she was interested in taking one of my watercolour workshops eventually… She had recently visited my booth at Toronto Artist Project and was inspired to learn how to paint. Here is a pic of us in February at the Toronto Artist Project and in January at a Toronto Business Babes Event…
Then, the pandemic hit and our world changed in what felt like overnight.
Vent closed its doors as it isn’t an essential service, and my slew of spring and summer markets were all cancelled. So Natalie asked if I would teach her how to paint online, instead. I was game… And with a few others also asking to learn, we started doing Instagram Lives.
We wanted to do something creative, that supported the #StayHome message, and that would be good for the soul. So every Friday at 3:00pm Eastern, we’d log on and paint together. I’d show her my watercolour tips and tricks, and whoever wanted to watch, could join in and paint from home, too! To our amazement and joy, it spread like wildfire and in addition to a handful of loyal regulars, our little Friday sessions grew in popularity.
Each week, I also released a free download of one of my Nine Magical Butterflies, along with an inspirational quote. I can’t tell you how much I started to look forward to writing those newsletters, sharing what positive message I could, and then getting to paint with a whole group of people every week! #TogetherApart, right?! I started encouraging students to share their work with the hashtag #showmeyourheART, and be so proud of their efforts and talents.
#BetterTogether, even apart
Those Instagram Live sessions, connected me in so many ways to so many of my loved ones, too. My mom and little sister Kiki joined in from Mexico, my big sister, Kat, painted while quarantining at our family home in Croatia.
One of my besties back home in British Columbia painted with her husband and two little boys, Connor and Nate; it’d become their weekly “Family Hour”. Even better, Karin’s mom painted from self-isolation at home with watercolours handed down by her father, and Karin’s son Connor painted #TogetherApart with one of his little buddies, Gracie, at home with her mum and sister! The reach these weekly watercolour sessions have had is insane, and I’m so, so honoured to have played a part in bringing people together when they physically couldn’t be.
I also made new friends. My BEAUTIFUL students. They’d ask questions and comment and we’d carry on conversations through DMs. That’s when I started to really feel good about it. Despite everything going on in the world, I still got to teach painting to so many people and help them feel better. This is the beautiful work of two of my all star students who have show up every week! @regalli + @gingertriss
While I’ve always loved doing watercolour workshops live and in-person, this new method isn’t something I’m going to give up any time soon.
It feeds my soul, and for once in my life I felt like I had purpose.
Paint Therapy + Mental Health
Painting has always helped me with my mental health struggles, and I have been writing an art therapy book about the magical wonders of art and its meditative benefits. The ability to disconnect from technology and exercise a fresh part of the brain and relax to the point of letting go is magic.
This week marks nine weeks of #FreeArtFriday, and Week #7 of our live art classes.
We are celebrating by painting butterflies and if you’re signed up for my newsletters, then you’ll have access to download your free Friendship Butterfly print for one week. It’s the ninth and final in my Magical Butterflies series: The Friendship Butterfly!
The Power of Friendship
And as I think about Friendship, I reflect on my gratitude for my dear friend Natalie, and her idea to teach live classes online. Because of her I’ve grown so much as a teacher, and as a friend!
And my beautiful friend Karin, who spread this class to her circle as a family bond… that connected her children’s friends’ families.
And every week after class, my mom and sisters and I all share our work together. It has brought us SO much closer even though we are so far away.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I sure am grateful for so many things including these friendships.
I’ll be continuing these workshops for as long as I can, in some form over the coming months. Even as parts of the country start to re-open and we return to normal, it will never be truly like it was before. And I intend to keep doing my part in making it better the best way I know how—through the paint!
Just as in painting, you gotta trust the process.
And for an even greater experience, trust the journey and timing of your life too; and trust the universe for bringing you the people they do, when they do.
So many magical friendships that I am celebrating this week, my heart is spilling over with gratitude as I write this.
Thanks for this brilliant idea Natalie! I LOVE LOVE LOVE painting with you, and grateful for the magic is has brought me during such a time.
See you in paint class!