Online art community finds ways to stay engaged during COVID-19 crisis

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Life in quarantine can take its toll during the coronavirus pandemic and some people are using their computer for human interaction using streaming platforms like Twitch.

Other people are looking for inspiration or want to learn a new hobby or skill and are drifting to online content as well on places like YouTube.  

The content creators on Twitch in the art section can offer both of those things: social engagement and learning opportunities.  

“Today specifically, I had probably about five or six [people] that specifically said that they came here to get some social interaction because they were feeling lonely because of the quarantine,” said Christopher Notbusch, a streamer that uses the handle CNotbusch on Twitch.  

He was one of the first non-gaming partners with Twitch, creating one of a kind collectible figures out of clay, which he makes by hand. He is also no stranger to what isolation is like.  

“Normally, my workplace would be a place of isolation with no social engagement, just grinding away at clay and sculpting all day in my little workshop here,” Notbusch said. “But people can come and join in and socialize and I reap the benefits of that as well. Pretty much all my friends are from my stream and I even met my wife on my stream so you make real connections with people.”  

Those real connections are what keep Luci from the United Kingdoms coming back to stream her art. She goes by the handle LAArt and is a multimedia artist. Members of her online community are from all over the globe from Australia to Sweden and many places in between. 

“It’s one of those magical things that you can just log onto the internet and talk to anybody that you like from anywhere in the world,” Luci said. “When I’m streaming, time just goes.”

Luci doesn’t fancy herself a teacher, but says that simply watching artists of any level working can give you insight into how to do what they are doing and it can inspire.  

“It’s always inspiring just seeing somebody else’s art no matter what kind of art it is,” she said.

Someone who does like to teach is Sean McAfee. He goes by the moniker BrushForHire on Twitch. His motto is, “Come for the painting, stay for the gimmicks.”

McAfee has been painting for more than two decades. He finds streaming on Twitch not only provides social engagement for people but opens the doors for learning as well.

While he takes a less classroom style approach to teaching, his tips, tricks, techniques and the sharing of the tools he is using for his craft can be invaluable to people with any level of interest in painting.  

“I like to teach in a way that doesn’t focus so much on the technical,” he said. “It’s more about how do we make this fun, how do we make it impactful, how do we get you to paint something that you can just really enjoy.”

The payoff for McAfee is when his viewers show him what they have achieved using what they learned from him and other artists.  

“I really love being a part of that and having the chance to help somebody enjoy this hobby, or work, or however they approach it,” he said.

McAfee says, from an educational standpoint, now is actually not a bad time to start a new hobby.

“There’s such a plethora of available material to learn from as opposed to like when I started 20 some years ago,” McAfee said. “There was nothing really. You had a couple small magazine articles that really weren’t a lot of help.”

McAfee, Notbusch, and Luci all just want to be a source of positivity in the world that is suffering right now.  

But it is the internet and parents do have other art options on Twitch for their teenagers, according to Notbusch.

“They have tags that you can tag on your channel,” he said. “I have a bunch of tags. One of them is sculpture, traditional art, commissions and family friendly because I keep my stream family friendly. You can click that tag specifically and find stuff that is labeled as family friendly.”  

To do this properly, chose the Browse option, select the Art channel, and then in the “filter by” search box, type “family friendly.” This will limit the options to streamers who have a focus on providing family friendly content.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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