For many people, art is thought of as “enrichment” or “craft” or “fun” and it can be all of those things – but there is more to it than that. Studio time can provide an environment for students to try something new and to invite them to look at things in a different way.

Developing observational, problem-solving and fine motor skills are also benefits associated with creating art. Exposing students to new styles of art, new materials or familiar materials used in unusual ways requires them to exercise different parts of their brains. Building their skill levels, adding to their vocabulary and requiring them to find an inventive way to communicate their ideas are elements that are incorporated into each assignment.

There is a balance between guiding them and allowing a certain amount of freedom in which to express themselves.

During our studio time at school, the environment is a little more relaxed. Some socializing is possible and discussions with constructive feedback are ongoing. Flip our learning to online and things are definitely different. In the Google Meet sessions, things are much quieter than in the classroom.

We have been evolving our sessions from just questions and answers to mini lessons where students work on the task and we all present our work to each other through the camera. It is interesting that some students who are often shy about sharing their work in class feel more comfortable showing it to the group online.

The live sessions provide an opportunity to exchange ideas and appreciate the efforts of trying something new within a short time frame. Other students are more comfortable working from the posted assignments, working at their own pace and submitting photos of their completed assignments. The use of Google Classroom provides a space for information sharing, for students to post their work, to ask questions and to receive feedback.

As a visual arts instructor, not seeing the various steps in the process for creating projects is a big adjustment. I miss witnessing the numerous stages the projects pass through on their way to completion; the struggle with getting started, the breakthrough of an idea or the decision making to move the project ahead is exciting. The energy the students bring to the classroom is muted in online learning, but their ideas and willingness to convey them is still in place.

While this online environment has been an adjustment for all of us, we can still be grateful that our community can stay in touch through technology. Perhaps there are things we can take from this experience that will positively impact our attitudes in the future. Some students have had more time to work on drawings, paintings and sculptures; having the opportunity to try new things because we have more time at home can have a positive impact. Every experience creates a reaction that becomes part of who we are and our artistic expression can be enriched through this.