by Athena Cocoves Artists are supposed to have an undying loyalty to their craft, working late into the night. Artists are supposed to be constantly creative, making small sketches every chance they have. The artist is supposed to be a source of “natural talent”— they were born this way and they knew they were “an artist” their entire life. Artists are also supposed to starve, right? For an image of someone who loves to create, this typical portrait of an artist is pretty one-dimensional. If you ask Rebecca Booth, founder of Arty Parties To Go, “What makes an artist?” she seems almost coy in her response: “Everyone is creative. Everyone can be an artist.” To Booth and many other local creative entrepreneurs, asking whether or not you are an artist is a sure sign that, well, you probably are. Hands on learning Each class by Rebecca Booth starts with one of her prepared paintings as an example and ends once each student has their own version. She walks through the process with the group, incorporating art historical tidbits, different brushstrokes and a lot of color. While everyone works separately, Booth moves through the room, giving equal parts encouraging compliments and helpful hints. “I’m more concerned with how much fun people are having,” Booth laughs. After nearly 20 years of teaching drawing basics to beginners, the Genoa-based artist began her series of painting classes and mobile craft parties last August. She wants to show those who are interested, and even nervous, that making art is something everyone can do and enjoy. “This is so incredibly relaxing,” said one of her students, while she applied heavy paint with animated, physical brushstrokes. “We aren’t creating masterpieces or fine art work. We are making your art,” said Booth before the class began. She is more focused on the down-to-earth process and the gratification that comes from creation. “It doesn’t have to be perfect.. I love making mistakes—it pushes me into automatic creative mode.” “People become so empowered after making a painting,” Booth explained to me, after hosting a painting class for a small group of BGSU faculty. Not a single woman in the group identified as an artist, but they all left with their own beautiful paintings and a huge smile. Arty Parties To Go offers mobile craft parties as a fun social event option and also hosts classes in Genoa and in the Toledo Botanical Gardens for $35/class. Catch Rebecca Booth this month at the Toledo Artists Club at the Botanical Gardens from 1-4pm, Sunday February 8 and 15.
Rebecca Booth’s Arty Parties To Go, 419-855-3399. Cell: 419-344-6262, artypartiestogo.com
Creative control For those who want a more self-guided experience, CREATE Art Studio + Workshop in Perrysburg offers both parties and classes that feel more like a club for students with little or no experience. CREATE believes that anyone can become an artist with the help of skilled instructors and a positive, nurturing environment. CREATE started in a garage with three friends who had a dream to encourage students to focus on the artistic experience rather than a finished product. During co-owner Kerry Wellstein’s ongoing, morning watercolor class, she sat with four students all working on different projects prompted by inspiration provided by their instructor. “I’m here to nurture strengths instead of letting the students become frustrated with any weakness,” Wellstein told me. “I want to the student to abandon responsibilities and take time for herself.” The class was very relaxed and peaceful. All the students worked happily, sitting mostly quietly with the exception of a few jokes and chances to compliment each other’s work. As I sat and soaked up the sense of community and the obviously therapeutic benefits, Wellstein approached me with line drawings and a watercolor kit, “You’re going to join us, right?” How could I not.