Virtual visions: Dubuque gallery offers remote step-by-step guided painting classes | Tri-state News

Laveta Brigham

Artist Rachelle Vize began by applying teal paint to the canvas, using downward brush strokes from the top to about the middle of the white blankness. “We want to make the lines of different length, but all the way across the top of the canvass,” Vize said. The lead artist […]

Artist Rachelle Vize began by applying teal paint to the canvas, using downward brush strokes from the top to about the middle of the white blankness.

“We want to make the lines of different length, but all the way across the top of the canvass,” Vize said.

The lead artist for Dubuque’s Captured on Canvas gallery, Vize led a virtual, step-by-step guided painting class via Zoom video conferencing Sunday.

The business began offering the regular virtual classes when the coronavirus pandemic first hit Dubuque in the spring.

“Right when COVID hit that’s when I started it,” gallery owner Mercedes Pfab said. “When the lockdown hit, that’s the only thing I could do.”

The online courses posed a challenge — Pfab and her artists are accustomed to giving personal instruction during the guided painting courses.

“When we first did (the virtual classes), we had to figure out how to implement it,” Pfab said.

Pfab devised a process by which the classes were held via Zoom and painting supplies could be picked up or shipped to out-of-town students prior to the course.

“People were unsure about it but it seemed to go good,” Pfab said.

This fall, Pfab has been able to hold some hybrid classes, with the virtual classes held in conjunction with limited amounts of students receiving in-person instruction with masks, social-distancing and sanitizing in the studio.

Sunday’s course was virtual only, which Pfab said appealed to students because of its safety.

“People have been enjoying it more than I thought they would — they can have their own little family gatherings (during the classes).”

As many as 30 people have attended a single virtual class, Pfab said.

Sunday’s virtual course drew three participants — and it was a little family gathering.

Vize’s students were her sister Lori Hansen, of Apple Valley, Minn., Lori’s 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, and Lori and Rachelle’s mom, JoAnn Bartusek, of Mason City, Iowa.

“There’s usually more people,” Bartusek said. “Last time, there were 11.”

Vize continued to guide the small, online group with their paintings — which would result in a wintry scene of two gray birds perched atop a snow-covered branch of a pine tree. She instructed the Hansens and Bartusek to blend teal and white paint at the middle of the canvass.

“Kind of think that the paint is dancing,” Vize said.

Vize said online instruction does pose a challenge.

“You can’t always see where people are at with their painting,” she said. “But you can paint in your pajamas.”

Painting with her daughter, Lori Hansen said she enjoyed the format of the Zoom classes — and the safety it provided during the ongoing pandemic.

“Now, we can’t really go out and do things without fear of getting sick,” she said.

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