Since the pandemic began, Methow Valley resident Carolyn Sullivan has stayed connected with her grandchildren remotely. “I was doing different activities with the kids online, like playing Clue,” says Sullivan. “Then one day I went to the Methow Arts website and found your art videos.”
Sullivan is referring to the art videos Methow Arts began creating in the fall of 2020, to support remote arts learning in dozens of schools throughout Okanogan and Chelan counties (click HERE for more information and links).
When Sullivan saw the range of instructional videos available, she says, she immediately wrote her daughter-in-law, who lives in Kansas City, MO, with Sullivan’s son and their two children. “Get the kids set up for tomorrow morning with paints, paper, and crayons,” Sullivan told her.
Sullivan selected a video that she thought would be a good starting point for the two grandchildren, ages three and five: artist Bruce Morrison’s “Winter Light” lesson on painting a flickering candle flame. “I did the lesson in advance so I could anticipate what it would be like to do the lesson with the kids,” Sullivan says. “The materials were so simple, and it was fun to go to the Twisp Daily Art & Business Supply and buy the paints and crayons.”
Sullivan sent her daughter-in-law the link to the instructional video, so that both grandma and grandkids were watching the lesson on a laptop or iPad. Then, Sullivan FaceTimed her grandkids, so that they could see each other. This element—parties in both houses being able to see Morrison’s lesson as well as each other—is crucial to the success of the activity, Sullivan says. “It just makes it so connected,” she says. “We can pause the video at the same time to fill in the background. Or if the kids have questions for me, we can pause the video and then resume after we finish discussing a certain aspect of the painting.”
“And the really fun thing,” Sullivan adds, “is that the kids aren’t pausing ME—they’re only pausing the art lesson. The lesson stops, but the FaceTime with me continues, so I get to watch them while they eat their cheese sticks, and then we go back to the lesson. It’s just wonderful to do this project with the kids, and to get to watch them doing it.”
“An added benefit,” Sullivan notes, “is that it gives mom and dad some time to do something else, while the kids are making art with grandma.”
Never one to hoard fun, Sullivan quickly spread the word to her other grandma friends, and explained how easy it was to share remote arts experiences with grandchildren. Now, there’s a small corps of intergenerational teams making art together, remotely.
“Bruce’s pace is perfect,” says Sullivan of Methow Arts teaching artist Morrison, who creates weekly art videos with in Methow Arts’ Studio A. “His voice is very calming, and his lessons are adjustable to different abilities. The kids would probably feel comfortable with Bruce as a teacher without me moving it along, but I just love being connected with them this way.”
Access Methow Arts’ free art videos HERE.