Artists are gearing up for painting sessions, accompanied by music and exercises, in a room above Maitland’s Heritage Mall.
The idea of relaxing artists before they start painting has been pioneered by Stephen James, an avid artist and a former nurse.
It was James’ medical experience that helped him develop a program that brings mind and body skills together.
Every Monday morning up to 20 artists gather at the room above So-Lo Art & Craft Supplies.
But before they take up a paint brush, the artists sway to the sounds of jazz, Creole and Indian music, and the blues.
And for the ultimate in relaxation, the voice of Dusty Springfield is always a big hit.
“My work as a nurse set me thinking about the attitude of many people who gather together to paint,” James said. “Over the years I worked out what succeeded and what did not.
“So many people have low self-confidence about their
ability to create and I began to explore the role of music and exercise as a way to bring mind and body skills together.
“Music is such a vital part of art and as our gatherings became more popular, this reinforced my belief about how art, music and physical activity blend.”
James said he taught people to get into a state of mind where they were relaxed and inspired.
“Music changes the way our brains think,” he said.
“I try to bring to people the child-like joy of music and movement before they start painting.”
He said some people were very anxious about their ability to paint.
“I help people here to realise their ultimate – how to visualise their ideas and how to get them out.
“We specialise in making people feel at ease, to realise that art should not be a scary experience.”
The cost of a session for people working full-time is $35, which includes most materials, morning tea and lunch.
The cost to pensioners or retirees is $30 and classes start each Monday at 10am.