Nanaimo artist Nicholas May has turned his art practice into a public service to keep people creating while the coronavirus is keeping them in their homes.
This past weekend the local pen and ink artist took to Facebook for his first live-streamed drawing session, where he’s started drawing colouring book pages and than making the finished pieces available on his website.
“I was looking for a way to kind of contribute to the whole ‘stay at home’ movement we’re seeing right now,” he said. “One of the ways was to start with the colouring book pages that I’m putting up for download for free.”
May said live streaming is something he’s always wanted to try but until now he never had “the right motivation.” He said a lot of the artists he looks up to stream and watching them at work has helped him to further develop his own skills.
“Lots of different techniques, they don’t really come through when you’re looking at a finished piece. I find looking at progress shots are really useful for that,” May said.
During his sessions, May does his drawings using a stylus on a special tablet and uses screen capture to make his work visible to viewers. At the same time he then appears via webcam in a picture-in-picture box in the corner of the screen to interact with those making comments.
“It’s a huge change of pace for me. I’m used to sitting in a dark room all alone kind of meditating with it, but it’s been interesting,” May said. “I like being able to talk to people while I’m doing it and answer questions and stuff like that. Honestly, it’s less of a distraction and somehow still helps me focus on what I’m doing.”
The stream also has strong Nanaimo content, with May featuring a soundtrack emphasizing Nanaimo bands.
“I’ve asked a lot of local musicians to contribute what they’d like to contribute and I’m going to start putting together playlists and releasing those along with the colouring book page at the end of each session,” he said.
May said at first he thought he would be nervous about having “people in the room looking over my shoulder,” but so far he’s enjoyed the experience and hopes to “keep it going for as long as possible.”
He jokingly said it’s been tempting to emulate longtime television painter and instructor Bob Ross.
“The urge to mention the ‘happy little lines’ is strong,” May said.
May currently streams on Mondays and Thursdays at 5 p.m.