Finding a creative spark in troubling times
BY LAURA ROSS | PHOTOS BY JASON APPLEGATE
Art is a window to the soul and in times of a pandemic, many souls need soothing. That’s why a New Albany art teacher tapped her palette during the quarantine and opened a creative world for thousands with Painting with a Purpose.
Mary Arnold typically spends her days as an elementary school art teacher in the New Albany/
Floyd County school system. She teaches art at nine schools within the system, and when the
COVID-19 quarantine hit in March, the last thing she wanted to do was sit idle at home.
To keep busy, she inquired if a few friends might want to do a free weekly painting class
online. She called her Facebook group Painting with a Purpose and was floored when the effort went viral. The group now has more than 18,000 followers – and rising – in 18 countries on Facebook and You Tube.
Arnold loves the creativity she sees on her
Facebook group and is heartened that entire families are putting quality time in for art
throughout the pandemic.
“We’ve had families across the state and country get together to watch the same videos on Zoom or Face Time and paint together,” said Arnold.
“It’s so important right now that families, kids, and even adults, have a
Arnold and two friends, Abby DeVary and Christin Brown, create video painting tutorials
each week on Facebook and You Tube. They also host live online painting events where viewers
can interact with the instructors and share their talents. The projects range from simple child focused art to more advanced acrylic painting classes. All classes are free for online followers.
“She’s making such an impact. It’s so cool,” said
Micah Arnold, Mary’s husband. “She’s always on
the run and this has given her an outlet for her
energy during quarantine. It’s amazing to me
how it’s grown.”
As her project grew, the New Albany Housing Authority (NAHA) took notice. Mary Arnold joined
forces with NAHA to create summer art kits for children. The kits provide packets full of paint, brushes, canvas, and chalk so children can use the supplies at home as they watch Painting with a Purpose’s online classes.
“For me, it’s really important that we work together as a community,” said Arnold. “It’s our
goal to put those art supplies in the hands of kids
who need it.”
“With everything going on in our world, kids
cannot voice what they are feeling sometimes,”
she said, “but they can put it down on paper. We
need that creativity. Kids are making projects to
give to essential workers, to give to grandparents,
to give to friends and family. Families have time
to create together and make memories together.
“Art has a voice that sometimes you cannot
put down into words,” she added. “Being able to provide a creative outlet for families is our mission.”
You can find Painting with a Purpose on
Facebook and YouTube.