Area art studios adapt to pandemic 

Area art studios adapt to pandemic 

reporter photo

Even in a pandemic, art studios are providing ways to unleash creativity, including paint nights, at-home art kits and art camps.

Before COVID-19, art studios offered paint night classes for customers to spend time with friends and learn how to paint. At Board & Brush in Southington, the customers would take a piece of raw wood and turn it into something beautiful. 

“One of the first things we say to them is ‘take a picture of what is sitting in front of you — this raw wood. You can prove to yourself and others that you created this,’” said Dawn Cronin, Board & Brush owner. 

Board & Brush had to discontinue paint nights when the studio closed in March due to pandemic restrictions. Beginning in May, the studio reopened for curbside pickup of at-home kits and backyard games.  

The $25 at-home kits included a stained piece of wood, a stencil, paint brushes, paint cups, sandpaper, cloth, a color mixing guide and instructions. The backyard games include cornhole, backyard dice and backyard towers. 

“People were still at home, looking for something to do either on their own or with their kids just as a creative outlet,” Cronin said. 

Cronin plans to restart workshops at the end of the month. Employees and guests will be required to wear masks. Reusable aprons will be laundered or disposable ones will be provided. Tools will be sanitized and tables will be set up to allow social distancing. There will also be plenty of sanitizer available.  

“It will be a little bit different. We’ll still have the music,” Cronin said. “It’ll take on a different look and feel...most people are used to that now and will expect some sort of distancing.”

At Catalyst Art Studio in Wallingford, paint parties and other workshops are held on Zoom. The studio also sells art kits that can be used with a pre-recorded video. Even though it is a virtual experience, people want to do something creative, said Catalyst owner Alyssa Marquardt. 

“People are bored at home,” Marquardt said. “I’ve seen a huge increase in the desire to do these kinds of things.”

Catalyst is also offering in-person art camps that conform with health and safety protocols. The camp runs 9 a.m. to noon and is limited to 10 children. Tools are disinfected after every use and campers are spaced six feet apart. 

“We have to wear masks, the kids do not,” Marquardt said. “We’re kind of limited on materials as well because I need to disinfect things. For example, if we use clay, I can’t reuse the clay again, that kind of thing.”

Marquardt does not plan to fully reopen until fall. She is worried that even then people will be hesitant to resume indoor activities.

“I am wondering what the interest would be there,” Marquardt said. “... Until then, virtual does work. It’s pretty cool.”

Art Studio of Connecticut in Southington is holding in person paint nights at half capacity. The classes are filling up faster than expected, according to the studio owner Dawn Toce. 

“The mood and the attitude of the people have been amazing,” Toce said. “… It’s been the same great night out that we experienced with our customers and we’re seeing a lot of new faces, so that’s telling us that people are really anxious to get out and get their mind off of things and have a good time.”

Before reopening, the studio offered free videos from their artists and $10 art kits that included a canvas, paint and brushes. The studio is following sanitary guidelines to keep employees and customers safe. 

Disposable aprons are provided and there are sanitizing stations throughout the studio. Most tools are now disposable. 

Art Studio of Connecticut is exploring a tent to help accommodate more people. 

“Just been really pleased and thankful for the support of our customers and people coming out, even during our family paint time, children have been coming out,” Toce said. “It’s been really great.” 

jsimms@record-journal.com203-317-2208Twitter: @jessica_simms99

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