At a recent paint night at Centralia College, artists Joan Hitchcock and Sue Wachter greeted students and helped them pick out paints for that night’s project.
When one student expressed a concern about being able to make the shape of a dog in the featured artwork, Wachter reassured her that the difficult looking subject was actually very easy.
“It’s just a snowman with an M on top,” she told the student.
Demystifying art has been the goal of Wachter and Hitchcock for the last four years through their traveling art classes, Joan and Sue’s Art Classes.
“Some people along the line have felt it’s not possible to do art so we make sure they know this is a safe place to explore,” Wachter said. “We want people to get excited about art and see they have potential.”
Wachter and Hitchcock first became acquainted with one another through the ARTrails organization and said they had talked for some time about offering art classes to the community together when they first heard about an opportunity for paint nights at Centralia College.
Today, through Joan and Sue’s Art Classes, the artists regularly offer art classes in various locations in Lewis County. Some of their regular locations include the Rectangle Gallery in Centralia, the Mossyrock community center, Morgan Arts Centre in Toledo and Centralia College. They said they are currently looking for a site to offer classes in the Olympia area. The majority of their offerings are painting classes similar to the popular “paint and sip” format, where students are given a general outline and taught techniques to make a certain theme of painting, but it is up to each individual to choose exactly how they will be inspired by the example artwork.
The pair also recently branched out in their quest to encourage more people to create art when they officially launched a website called By My Design in November 2019. The site offers patterns by professional artists for sale. Wachter explained that the pattern may be for a piece by the artist that has been sold professionally and that the artist is willing to share with others, knowing that each artist’s rendering, like at Hitchcock and Wachter’s classes, will be unique to the person creating it.
“The cool thing is for the artist who is not confident in their sketch work they can still work on becoming confident in their painting work,” Watcher said.
The first pieces offered on the site are silk painting patterns from Karen Sistek of Port Angeles, a well-known artist in the silk painting medium. Hitchcock and Wachter said they hope the By My Design site will eventually include patterns from artists in a variety of mediums and they have had inquiries about the platform from artists from around the globe. Hitchcock said they have had a lot of positive responses from artists who like the idea of sharing their art and encouraging more people to create art.
“Instead of the patterns sitting in a drawer gathering dust they can have a kind of trickle income from that,” Hitchcock said.
Eventually, Hitchcock and Wachter said they hope the By My Design site will also evolve to offer lesson plans for other artists who would like to teach classes like the ones they offer. They said they foresee possibly being able to equip other artists with the information and tools necessary to design their own paint nights and then create and sell their own lesson plans to other artists. Though such activity may still be quite a way off, the pair said they always have high hopes for their ideas.
“We’ve always liked the saying that if you think big, you’ll go far,” Wachter said.
“And if it doesn’t work out, you can move on and you never have to worry about what if,” Hitchcock said.