There is no denying it: 2020 was a challenging year, and we cannot adequately predict what 2021 will look like in comparison. It is true that, in many ways, we didn’t get to do the things we wanted to do, or see the things we wanted to see. To ensure that our friends and loved ones remained healthy, we’ve stayed socially distant and lived locally. But on the bright side, because we have not been able to partake in our typical out-and-about entertainment, many of us have discovered new and creative ways to enjoy ourselves. We have learned new skills, taken up new (or old) pastimes, and found new ways to reconnect with the members of our families.
As we move into a new year, it looks like we are going to have to continue to make the best of our social bubbles. To help you and your loved ones find ways to explore, create and have fun together, we would like to make a suggestion: art for the whole family. Making art is one of those therapeutic activities you can do at home, and there is no age limit. There are lots of great options in York Durham Headwaters, and in this post, we are shining the spotlight on two studios we think you should check out.
Encaustic Art at The Hive Encaustic Studio
If you haven’t heard of encaustic painting before, bee prepared to bee amazed. No, those aren’t typos—encaustic art is painting with beeswax. You paint with a mixture of tree resin, beeswax and coloured oil paint, and the whole thing is applied while hot. “We paint in layers and layers of hot coloured beeswax,” says Kim Kool, encaustic artist and co-owner of The Hive Encaustic Studio in Alton. “Every time we paint, we melt the layers together with more heat using hot guns, hot irons and blow torches. The wax does this really beautiful thing, the way it moves. It is very spontaneous.”
We’re sure we’ve set off some heart palpitations at the suggestion that “fun for the whole family” can include blow torches. But we promise, this is an all-ages activity. Kids don’t use the blow torches, of course. The hot guns are similar to embossing guns or hair dryers, and this part of the process can be done hand-over-hand for those children who are younger, or whose motor skills have yet to be developed enough. “It is a medium that is quite lovely for kids because they can play in different ways,” Kim explains. “You can texturize your creation, so while the wax is still warm, you can press things in and pull them out to leave behind impressions. We can do all kinds of gouging and mark-making techniques. You can even embed things right in like paper or bits of thread. I had somebody recently cut up their wedding dress and embed the lace, even.”
Currently, Headwaters Region is in lockdown because of COVID-19, so unfortunately The Hive is not offering in-studio workshops. However, families are able book a private session, which allows Kim and her partner Karen Brown to customize their offerings. In pre-COVID times there have also been structured classes, which The Hive intends to return to as soon as it is safe. “We host anything from a [single] three-hour class to [an intensive] five-day class,” Kim says. “For private family bookings, we can really work with them to tailor their session so that it is exactly what they’re looking for.”
If you are not comfortable getting out, or if it is impractical to do so, The Hive Encaustic Art Studio offers online learning, and also a take-home option. “I have put together a small Encaustic in a Box kit for the families,” Kim explains. “They have all the instructions that families will need. In terms of tools, all they need to have is a heat gun and a griddle, which most people have lying around in some form or another.”
As Kim points out, being creative is very refreshing while we’re all limited in what we can do. And making art in ways which people don’t normally think of—like painting with beeswax—lets us stretch our imagination and really get a buzz (!). We ask you: what better time is there than now to do something like that?
Maggiolly Art Supplies, Workshops and Online Learning
For nearly two decades, Maggiolly Art has been a beloved fixture in downtown Orangeville. Owner Emilia Perri first opened her business in 1996 in Alliston, but relocated to the Orangeville area in 2003. As an art school graduate, Emilia has a real appreciation for what art can do for people’s overall sense of well-being, as do the artists who work with her.
When COVID-19 isn’t a concern, Maggiolly Art typically runs art workshops all year round for kids and adults. Currently, they are still planning to go ahead with an array of children’s classes in the new year. There will also be adult classes beginning in February with local artist Ricky Shade. “We’re operating with much lower numbers, of course, to keep everybody safely distant in studio,” Emilia says. Check the website for updates.
In terms of art that the whole family can do together, Emilia suggests you consider her signature floor cloth-making workshop, which she will be leading herself. “It’s like a painted canvas that sits on your floor. It’s great for your kitchen or your dining room, on a wood or tiled surface. People walk on them all year long and they are virtually indestructible.” Doing a project like this as a family, and having something to decorate your home with at the end, is a wonderful way to remember the time you spent having fun and making art together.
Emilia cannot stress enough how important art is, especially for kids. If you can do it as a family, that’s even better. “It really makes you feel good,” she emphasizes. “It’s actually a perfect activity for your dining room table. All those dining rooms that never get used—well, now you can use them.”
The Hive Encaustic Studio
Alton Mill Arts Centre, Studio 201
1402 Queen St. W., Caledon
158 Broadway, Orangeville
Plan ahead and safely. Please check with all the businesses for hours of operation and protocols.
Story by Katherine Ryalen