1. Please share who you are, and the name of your art studio/expressive art program.
My name is Dee MacGibbon and I live in Kelowna, B.C. The name of my studio is called The Brown Bag Studio.
2. What population do you serve and why do you enjoy working with this demographic?
All ages from 6 to 96. I love people and I find that I learn much from interacting with different generations. I am an advocate of intergenerational art programs and activities.
3. Please share a descriptive “snapshot” of one of your art sessions, your studio/workspace, and describe the emotional “atmosphere” of your sessions.
The emotional atmosphere of my studio sessions is generally warm and welcoming. I try to put people at ease and to gently encourage them to let go of their fears, expectations and judgements regarding creative expression. For me it is fun but I realize that many people are initially intimidated when it comes to painting and other creative activities. I acknowledge the fears and work to create an environment of safety and comfort for them to open to the joy of creative expression.
4. How do you make people feel at ease so that they can more comfortably express themselves?
I generally work one-on-one with a client when they are new to the studio and when they are ready and with their permission I move into sessions with 2 or 3 people. I prefer small groups so that the noise level and confusion are kept to a minimum.
5. Could you share an example of an art directive or an art theme that you might typically use in your art program?
I am a portrait artist so I often encourage people to start with an oval shape and see where it goes from there. I try to keep the directives to a minimum and mostly just show my clients how to put paint on a brush and put the brush to the paper. I also insist on finishing and respecting the work that has been done.
6. What most touches you most about the art groups that you facilitate?
I am always amazed at how much people enjoy the process of painting and at the quality of work that is generated when the environment is right.
7. Could you share a story about how art making has facilitated change, deeper connection, or emotional or psychological healing for an individual member of your art group?
I had a visitor from New Zealand who came to stay with me for a month. She was healing from hip replacement surgery and at the same time waiting for a shoulder joint replacement. Her pain levels were very high and her mobility was extremely limited. She is an extremely creative person. Generally she works with fabric and fibers but she had never painted before her visit to the studio. We painted together almost everyday.
I could see that the process was psychologically healing in that it enabled her to look at the creative possibilities for her future, to move beyond her present pain and to desire to overcome her physical limitations After her experience at The Brown Bag Studio she went on to open her own online store on Felt New Zealand and to offer communication training courses to small groups of people. (This was her professional work before she retired.)
8. Could you share a story or anecdote about something that is challenging about running your art program?
Many people, because of past experiences, are very intimidated to even try painting. It is always hard to get people to attend the initial session. I get a lot of last minute cancellations. After the first session, many people say, 'okay, now I've done that so I don't have to do it again'. Once they make it to the first session, then there is the continued challenge to get them to try one or two more times so they can experience the benefits and joys of making it a regular practice. Kind of like yoga. (I used to be a yoga teacher in the 90's)
9. What personally motivates you to facilitate art in the way that you do?
Who are you as a creator and a teacher? What makes your art program unique?
It's hard to talk about myself. I used to say that my serious work was painting portraits in pastel but now I have let that go of that line.
I just love living my life creatively in every moment. Everything I do and everything I have around me is an expression of my creative self.
My program is unique because it is no cost. I am retired and financially self sufficient. If people wish to paint in my studio on an on going basis, all I ask is a donation to cover the cost of materials. This can come in the form of cash, materials they wish to donate or a gift certificate to Opus or Michaels where I can buy materials.
10. How can people reading this article support your work in the world? How can people find out more about you?
My website is:
People can best help me by reading my blog and sharing with me. Also, I appreciate any donations of art materials of any kind.