Current Courses

Pumpkin spiced everything. Changing leaves. Seasonal depression?

The return of cooler weather can be exciting for some, and can leave many others in a tough spot. Luckily, we don’t have to go through it alone. One way we can help ourselves during this time is to lean into creativity and connection.

The Willow Arts Community provides access for our membership to learn from professional artists in our community (many with lived experience of mental health/substance use) while fostering connection and collaboration with fellow Member Artists. This is what peer support is all about.

Here are a couple of ways to participate this season:

  1. We are offering four multidisciplinary Arts Training Courses that require a 6-week commitment and registration. Registration opens September 2 and closes September 9. All courses are delivered directly to your homes with weekly opportunities to meet with the Instructors and fellow Member Artists virtually.
  2. The 12-week Open Studio/Peer-Support and the Zine Project are great opportunities for Member Artists to connect, create, and participate with no commitment. Member Artists not enrolled in an Arts Training Course this season can stay connected through shared creative experiences.

We have room for new folks to join as Member Artists. If you are an 18+ artist or creative with lived experience of mental health/substance use in Niagara, please reach out via phone 905-328-9277 or email thewillowcommunity@gmail.com. We can schedule a phone chat and complete the membership process together. Membership is free, and there is no cost to participate.

I’m excited to co-host the Open Studio/Peer Support sessions each Monday and I look forward to connecting and creating with all of you soon.

With love and creativity,
Shauna MacLeod
Founder/Director and Fellow Member Artist

How to Keep a Sketchbook

With Jana Bergsma
Beginner to Intermediate
Dates: September 14 – October 22
6 YouTube videos circulated on Mondays
6 Zoom check-ins on Thursdays 1-2 PM
Basic art kits can be delivered upon request.

Do you like the idea of keeping a sketchbook but freeze when faced with the blank page? Keeping a sketchbook can be a powerful tool for self discovery. This course will show you how your sketchbook can help you find your artistic style, process thoughts and ideas, while promoting consistency and habit in your life. Each week you will have access to a YouTube lesson where Jana explores a different technique to help you fill a sketchbook. A weekly Zoom check-in will allow the class to share their work, ask questions, or just sit back and enjoy the conversation. No experience necessary. Sketchbooks help artists experiment with creativity in a personal, safe environment where no rules exist.

Acting Out!

With Matthew Beard
Beginner to Advanced
Dates: September 15 – October 20
6 Zoom sessions 6 – 8 PM

In this course, we will focus on practicing the improvisational skills of acceptance, listening, and joy that will have Member Artists creating scenes “on the spot.” With an emphasis on community and connection, you will learn to create in the moment with your scene-partners and discover how much fun a video call can really be. This 6-week course is filled with improv games that will help to create a sense of camaraderie, provide a lot of laughter, and help to build trust in yourselves and others as you create and explore scenes together. No previous experience is necessary.

Songs from the Willow- Online Edition

With Joe Lapinski
Beginner to Intermediate
Dates: October 21 – November 25 
6 Zoom sessions 6 – 8 PM
In-Person Recording Sessions November 29 and December 5. More details to follow.

Let’s find our INNER SONG. We’ve all got a song inside of us that needs to be revealed. We’ll look at a wide variety of techniques that will help in the process of songwriting: listening to music together, writing exercises, meditation, discussion, collaboration, and more! We will also spend each of the six classes looking at a specific genre or style of music and examining what makes it “tick”. We’ll use this as inspiration for our own writing. Our discoveries may lead to complete songs, or simply the seeds to songs that we pursue outside of class. The idea is to open ourselves up to all the possibilities of what our inner song will be. Member Artists will be invited to record their original songs in a professional recording studio. More details to follow.

Remade Clothing & Accessories

With Alexa Fraser
Beginner to Intermediate
Dates: October 20 – Nov 27
6 YouTube videos circulated on Tuesdays
6 Zoom check-ins on Fridays 1-2 PM

This 6-week course will teach participants basic sewing skills you can use to make remade clothing and accessories to help update your own wardrobe in a sustainable and affordable way. Each week, a new project will be introduced via YouTube video, with opportunities to connect with the Instructor and fellow Member Artists to ask questions and share work and ideas. Weekly projects include: a no-sew face mask or one using simple sewing with hair elastics, making a fabric flower brooch or tie pin or large vintage inspired pin-on bow, learn how to combine either two t-shirts or a button-up shirt and a sweater to make a super stylish shirt, explore traditional Japanese Sashiko embroidery techniques – an artistic style of hand embroidery often used for mending, and learn how to sew either a long scarf or an infinity scarf from a couple of t-shirts or scrap fabric.

Zine “Shared Works”

Editor Catherine Parayre
Project open to all Member Artists
No registration required. Let us know you are interested and we will send you the project details.

Hearing Voices: Chatter from the Willow is a seasonal, collaborative zine that acknowledges the perspectives and topics relevant to artists living with mental illness/substance use in Niagara. We aim to capture the heartbeat of the Willow, and share it with the wider community to inspire, educate, reduce stigma, and highlight the talents and points of view of our Member Artists.

Project Details:

The theme of this season’s zine is “Shared Works” and is about fostering creative ties despite the virtual isolation caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Send an email to thewillowcommunity@gmail.com for full project details.

Open Studio/Peer Support

With Shauna MacLeod & John Sweeney
Open to all Member Artists & Instructors
Mondays 1 – 2 PM
September 14 – December 7 (no session on Thanksgiving Monday)
Send an email to thewillowcommunity@gmail.com and let us know you are interested. We will send you the Zoom link.

Pop in and say hi, share your artwork, and connect with your peers. Every other week, John Sweeney will lead improv games, short written activities, visualizations, and other interactive experiences. You are welcome to participate or simply enjoy. The Open Studio/Peer Support helps Member Artists connect with each other in a positive, informal manner while engaging in mini artistic experiences that do not require follow up or regular attendance.

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How to Sign-up for Classes

Registration for the Arts Training Courses opens September 2  and closes September 9. 

Email: thewillowcommunity@gmail.com
Call: 905-328-9277
IM: Instagram / Facebook

To express interest in taking a course, we would like to know the following:

1. Have you completed a membership to become a Willow Member Artist? If not, we will schedule a phone chat.
2. If yes, what is your 1st & 2nd choice of classes?

Once registration is closed, the Instructors will email you with specific details about the class.

The weekly Open Studio/Peer Support and the Zine Project are available to all Member Artists and do not count towards your 1st or 2nd choice of classes. Folks can join the Willow at any time during a season, but will not be able to join an Arts Training Course once it has begun. Our Winter 2021 Arts Training Season will begin again in January.

Please continue to use the private Facebook Group to share your work and ask questions. Feel free to reach out to Shauna via email or phone with any questions.