PANDEMIC PASTIMES: Many turn to art to keep busy, stay creative

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By ANTHONY FLORES

Keeping busy during quarantine can be a challenge, but residents of Liberty Hill are finding creative ways to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, and pick up or sharpen some skills along the way.

Art is the escape method for several, including Ashley Torres DeGraan. She uses this time to create abstract art with her family.

“During quarantine, my family helped me put a couple of puzzles together and so I could create my artwork from it,” said DeGraan. “It’s helped keep things calm and peaceful at times when things are so crazy around us. It’s time-consuming and rewarding at the same time.”

DeGraan’s family has taken advantage of quarantine and used their activities to come together more as a family.

“The family loves it just as much as I did,” she said. “It’s brought us time together when we need it the most. Creating memories while doing something so simple as a family.”

Jen Cochran Anderson is reconnecting with her artistic roots through oil painting. Anderson is an art historian professionally, so art is never far from the mind.

“It’s also nice to get back into a practice that is really fundamental to who I am,” she said. “I haven’t painted much in the last 15 years — I spent that time in graduate school, earning my Ph.D. in art history, then teaching, working on my scholarship, and raising my son. Taking time for myself to paint lets me get back to the fundamentals of myself.”

Being able to get back to her roots is helping Anderson get through the stress of quarantine.

“It’s been vital to me to have a creative outlet that lets me express the anxiety and the isolation of quarantining for so many months,” said Anderson. “I love oil painting, in particular. There’s so much scope for both naturalism and expressionism. It’s also a practice that I feel like I have a lot of room to improve in, and I like attempting to improve a skill.”

Diving into her art as well, Lisa Dayhoff is working on honing her diamond painting skills. Diamond painting is a mix between cross stitch and paint by numbers that requires the painter to apply resin diamonds to a coded canvas.

The new pastime makes COVID restrictions less cumbersome.

“It gives us something to look forward to every day, as well as a weekly basis as we wait for new ones we have ordered to come in,” said Dayhoff. “For me, I can concentrate on the little details so that I am not just sitting around worrying about the things and people I was so used to interacting with personally.”

Making it more than just a personal hobby, Dayhoff donates her work for fundraisers to help veterans.

“Since I tend to donate my finished pieces for fundraisers, this is also helping me build up my options,” said Dayhoff. “It gives me another way to help my fellow veterans whole, minimizing the risk to others and my family.”

Ginger Ketchum is taking her art off the canvas, using her creativity to make cards. Whether it’s holidays, get well soon, happy birthday or happy anniversary cards, Ketchum is covering the spectrum.

“I found that creating cards to give to others lifted my spirits. It took the edge off from being isolated. I kept busy each day,” said Ketchum. “I wanted to share something with my mother that she could easily do in her room by herself. I created card kits for her and her friends to assemble.”

Working with crafts holds a special place in Ketchum’s heart. Her mother passed in July, and before quarantine Ketchum would work on crafts with her mother. Because of quarantine Ketchum wasn’t able to continue that activity with her. To remedy not being able to connect with her, Ketchum would create and send cards to her.

“My 92-year-old mother was quarantined in a Round Rock nursing home. We were not allowed to visit. Although I chatted with her via video chat, I wanted to uplift her spirits as the residents were not allowed to leave their rooms,” she said. “We previously had crafted together weekly. I volunteered at the nursing home and taught a crafting class periodically. Making cards and sending them to my mother for herself and to uplift her friends was therapeutic for both of us.”

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