NEWBURYPORT — Artists across the country, including at least 19 from the state, have come together to document their experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic in an online art gallery called “The Great American Paint In.”
Bill and Mary Weinaug, art collectors and owners of Gallery CERO in Florida, launched the project to show how artists are not only coping in a time of isolation but also how they are creating.
Karen Blackwood, one of two Newburyport artists featured in the gallery, said she has been having trouble focusing on larger pieces these past few months.
By putting her energy into smaller projects, “I could still work and kind of keep my flow going,” she said.
For “The Great American Paint In,” Blackwood produced an 8-inch-by-10-inch oil painting called “Inner Light.”
“I’m noticing that during this time, my subject matter has dealt more and more with light and color,” she said. “And I wonder if it’s because we kind of need that right now. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Blackwood, 60, said she thinks people need art now more than ever. She’s seen this in how quickly people have purchased her art through her website and email newsletter.
In thinking small, she has created more than two dozen 6-inch-by-8-inch paintings, and with people at home, she said each one sold within minutes of being posted through her newsletter.
“They’re very affordable and very small,” she said. “I’ve noticed that as much as I need to paint it, it seems people need to have art in their home.”
Blackwood said people might just miss shopping, or maybe they’re just spending more time at home and want something to look at.
“There’s definitely a need for it,” she said. “I think people need to see something that makes them feel good.”
Blackwood finds most of her inspiration in just sitting on Plum Island and looking out at the Atlantic Ocean.
“Each time you see it, it’s different,” Blackwood said, saying she returns to one particular spot on Plum Island every time. “I could paint it a zillion times and I would see something completely different.”
Another Newburyport artist, Ellen Granter, submitted her take on isolation with an oil on panel called “Idle Hands.”
In a statement with her painting, Granter wrote that she has spent a lot of time knitting and doing other projects she hopes will “bring some handmade joy.”
The two knitting needles featured in her painting “evokes how spare and alone this time can feel,” she wrote.
“The Great American Paint In” is still accepting submissions on its website with a panel of judges reviewing each application.
Upon completion of the project, the collection will be turned into a tabletop art history book. Collectors can also purchase works from the website.
To learn more about “The Great American Paint In” or to view the gallery, visit https://thegreatpaint-in.com.