A few days ago, I was photographing the students in one of my after-school art classes. I called a few up at a time to sit one-by-one in the giant red Santa chair (a class favorite) and take a photo with their mixed-media hot cocoa mugs. As I called one table over, two of my longtime students both sat down on either side of the chair- still large enough to accommodate two growing artists- and I realized I'd taken the same photo of them 3 years prior. They smiled proudly as I snapped the picture, then I quickly found the original shot and swiped between the two photos for them; the three of us pleased by the accidental replication. The rest of the class gathered around and each delightedly marveled at how much their friends had grown up.
Even after classes had ended for the day, I was still thinking about those two pictures. It's astounding to me that I'm able to watch these kids grow as artists and people. They've gained inches and lost baby teeth and right before my eyes, these little ones are not quite so little anymore!
Beyond the physical growth, I found myself reflecting on the changes we've all experienced since that first photo. None of us in February 2020 realized just how starkly life would change a mere few weeks later. Having only become the owner and operator of ArtDaze five months before the lockdowns began, I had just started feeling like I was getting the hang of running classes and workshops when everything turned upside down. My booking system shut down and withheld funds from creators across the country, and suddenly the entire business model of ArtDaze was mandated inoperable. I quickly had to pivot, creating virtual art challenges and resources and selling art kits out of my grandparents' front yard while sitting in lawn chairs six feet apart. We cautiously returned to camps and classes in person with reduced numbers and masks, navigating not only art education but also a public health crisis- what a first year of business, right!?
The theme for the past few years has been resilience. When faced with a barrage of events each less precedented than the last, we all had to face an insurmountable degree of change for which none of us could have ever prepared. It was particularly difficult watching kids have to learn how to adapt. But they did. We smiled with our eyes, supplies were endlessly disinfected, and we bounced back. I'd like to think art was a little safe haven for each of us throughout this time, and I'm so grateful for all the families who saw it through along with us.
So, we've done it. We've bounced back, we've been resilient. Times were tough, but we made it through. With ArtDaze, many ideas were put on hold over the past few years. Resiliency meant adjusting the best we could, but now we get to grow and put those ideas into action. 2022 saw more parties, more camps, more new faces. I anticipate even more exciting growth for 2023- in part, this Better Late Than Never blog, which had been living on the back burner of my mind for a good while. I look forward to sharing with you more about myself, ArtDaze, project ideas, DIYs, and resources here on a regular basis.
I have my family, friends, and folks like you to thank for making this all possible. I am forever thankful for the support these past three years, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this wonderful, colorful place!