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Virtual art classes now offered by Long Island studio 

Larissa Grass, education director of Gallery North in

Larissa Grass, education director of Gallery North in East Setauket, teaches art lessons on Facebook. Credit: Newsday

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Art classes are now in session — online. Gallery North, a nonprofit art gallery and studio in East Setauket, can’t be physically open because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, weekday lessons, called “Artventures at Home,” are being posted on the studio's Facebook page to keep the creative juices flowing.

“We were upset that people who find our studio to be a safe haven for creating weren’t going to be able to go there,” says Larissa Grass, the education director. “These virtual lessons remind people that we are all still a community that can create together, even if we have to distance ourselves right now.”

Monday through Friday, a 15- to 20-minute video is posted each day featuring Grass giving instruction on how to build a sketchbook using materials from home (cardboard, duct tape, paper, shoelaces) or drawing human faces. The classes are for artists of all ages and levels of ability. 

“Next week, we are going to do live chicken drawings outdoors,” says Grass, 39, of Medford. “I want people to feel good about creating and gain the confidence to continue creating in the future. We are here to help them do that.”

The videos are a hit with the first episode gaining 1,700 views and the second not far behind at 1,300 views. Many parents are finding the lessons helpful.

“I scramble like others to help fill our children’s days without getting the summer slump in March,” says Christina Dnyprowsky, 37, of Mount Sinai, who is quarantined at home with her two daughters Mila, 7, and Annalise, 6. “I’m not trained as an educator and to have someone like Mrs. Grass doing a tutorial is incredible. I place a lot of value on the arts and what it can do for our children.”

Tali Hinkis, 45, of Setauket is making an effort to structure each day for her 7-year-old son Lo’am Lapidus, allowing time for school work as well as art. 

“These tutorials are well put together because the instructions are clear,” says Hinkis. “It’s a nice opportunity as a parent to spend time with your child doing creative things.”

Lo’am is very proud of the new sketchbook he made.

“It was really fun and it wasn’t that hard,” he declares. “You can even choose what type of design you like for the cover!”

Grass is encouraged by the response.

“People are watching the episodes and sharing the artwork their kids are making,” she says. “It’s both exciting and fun.”

To view a free lesson, visit: facebook.com/GalleryNorthLI/

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