All of us at Xchanges and our friends and neighbours have been challenged these past months to stay home for the safety of ourselves and others, to work at our jobs or school or art, and to socialize at a distance – or not at all.
The virtual world exploded into daily life and quickly became the norm for all of these activities. Practicing life drawing however, seemed less likely to do at home and especially online. Who would model? Who would come out to such an event (except creepers)? – it certainly couldn’t replace “the real thing”. We heard many negatives, but faced with the alternative of no community engagements because of closing the gallery and life drawing, and a crucial revenue loss, we decided to forge forward with virtual online drawing.
Over 40 people signed up for our first FREE session and now we have four sessions online (one more than our in-person sessions with the introduction of online Portrait drawing), and participants from outside the city and the province – some are coming as far away as Manitoba, Rhode Island, Washington and California! People, who for many reasons before Covid could not participate in Life Drawing (our two flights of stairs being one of them), can now participate. Our minimum registrations are being met (more or less) because folks are signing up in advance online via the Online Store and the WordPress site (whew!) which helps ensure that Xchanges does not lose money.
The program is still in its infancy, but with the dedication of our volunteer online Facilitators, Coordinators, models, and participants who have been very patient while we sort out processes and technology issues, we can positively reflect on this accomplishment!
“Nice to be involved with a group again. Experiencing something different, better than expectations. Mid way through, I looked up from my drawing and saw Natasha blink; just a different reality which I started to enjoy. Easy to access and well orchestrated.” Participant, May 2020
So, it is with great pleasure that today we announce a special book project – envisioned by a long-time member and life drawing artist, Brian Chandler to create both a real-world book and online presentation to share our virtual life drawing experiences and encourage more participation in this program.
Covid-19 LIFE: virtual life drawing in the time of Covid begins today and will run to the end of our summer virtual online life drawing sessions on August 31, 2020.
Here is how it works:
- Each week all participants, no matter what skill level can submit a drawing with a written reflection about it; everyone will be able to have at least one drawing and reflection included in the published book and even more online! This is about our collective experience learning and not about flipping through pictures in a book. We will share our ups and downs and what we learned and thought about. You can even create poetry – Haikus – it is up to the artists how to approach the reflection.
- Throughout the summer we will feature various works on the Blogs
- Through the month of September we will collect and finalize the works to be included in the print version and the online version
- By the annual Members show in late fall, we will have the book ready to share with the public and purchase through the WordPress site.
Stay tuned for more information about this great initiative – the session Facilitators will share announcements and information in the coming weeks. To sign up and join life drawing and this great initiative visit the Online Store now.
Check out the first drawings being collected on the Virtual Drawings Diaries blog post.
The feature image above for this post is a digital drawing of Stu by Danika Bezuidenout, Victoria, BC.
(The project title is a word play after the famous book Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez)