When's the last time you picked up a paint brush and made some art? Childhood? Many of us think that artists have some special talent that we didn't get, but painting teacher Skye Pratt is positive there's an artist inside you that simply needs a little coaxing to come out.
Pratt, a Central Coast native and Paso Robles Daily News and Atascadero Daily News editor, has done countless hands-on classes where she teaches people step by step how to make colorful art. Last December she decided to put her easy-to-follow instructions online on her YouTube channel, Paint Along With Skye. Little did she know then that months later her videos would be the only way to reach her students.
- Image Courtesy Of Skye Pratt
- YOU CAN DO IT! Paint Along With Skye videos can show you how to make charming paintings like this bucolic scene.
"I have a pretty colorful imagination, but no, I never thought that something like this would happen!" Pratt admitted via email. "Something in my gut told me to focus on the virtual classes, and I'm certainly glad that I started the channel when I did. I'm glad it can be a helpful resource, with lots of videos for people to choose from. I wanted to make it G-rated and fun for the whole family, and it's perfect now that parents can have a fun activity with their kids."
Are there limitations to online classes?
"I feel like I can actually teach a little bit better being able to focus on just my painting and the instructions, and it's nice to not have to haul all the materials and get set up," Pratt said. "That being said, I miss having fun with people; [live classes were] always a party, 'a paint party!' At first I thought it was going to be a disadvantage not being able to see my students' work, but I started the Art Club [on Facebook] and PAWS Premium [on Patreon] to help address that. Students can share their art in the club and can message me and ask questions directly on PAWS Premium at the monthly 'Q and A-rt.'
"The Art Club is an art share group where students and art lovers alike can get inspired, post their artwork, and get support," she continued. "It's not so much a place for critique, as I do want to keep things positive. Studies show humans learn better with positive support rather than criticism, and that's just the kinda teacher I am. I truly love seeing my students' creative expressions!"
If you're thinking, "I'm no artist. I can't paint," Pratt's here to prove you wrong. She knows people are too hard on themselves.
"This's why I like to be fully supportive and positive with my students," Pratt explained. "Access to creativity is something that I believe makes us human on a really important and fundamental level. The grading system clashes with art, in my opinion, and discourages students from expressing themselves. I believe that art is subjective, and also that you don't have to be 'good' at it to enjoy it or to express yourself in a meaningful way.
"My seventh grade art teacher gave me a C-minus and told me my colors were too bright; I will never forget that," she shared. "If I had let that one teacher discourage me, I would have put down my brush long ago. I did have some amazing teachers both in grade school and later on in high school, but I don't think that forcing art into graded parameters is something that is helpful for emerging artists or really even makes sense."
Pratt's got some great go-to advice for artists of all levels, like: "When in doubt, leave it out," and, "Slow down and make sure that you are using the right colors!"
- Photo Courtesy Of Skye Pratt
- SHE'LL MAKE AN ARTIST OUT OF YOU Central Coast native Skye Pratt has a YouTube channel filled with Paint Along With Skye videos, offering step-by-step tutorials for all ages.
What she really wants is for her students to have fun and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from creating.
"I think that creativity makes us human," she said. "'Earth' without 'art' is just 'eh.' It may seem simple, but whether it be through painting or dance or playing an instrument, I think that the time spent doing the art form itself is sacred really. It's a meditative 'flow state.' It's been proven to lower blood pressure too, and it helps me with my anxiety."
For Pratt, helping people learn to create is its own reward.
"When people take the time to message me and show me their painting and say, 'Thank you. I had a lot of fun following along step by step,' it makes my eyes well up. Just sharing what I love makes me happy," she said. "But this is also a 'peace project.' My videos have already reached people in Australia, India, the East Coast. It makes me really happy that we can all come together, get creative, and realize how similar we are in this regard. I think it's really special." Δ
Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey is reaching for the paints right now. Send brushes to firstname.lastname@example.org.