Painting yourself out of a pandemic: From virtual art lessons to in-person painting

Artist painting en-plein air on Anna Maria Island.
Posted at 8:06 AM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 17:55:33-04

ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. — Landscape artist and muralist Cory Wright spends all of her free time painting the beautiful scenery only a unique place like Florida can offer.

During the past year of the pandemic, she faced more challenges and changes than she could’ve ever predicted.

“I went from teaching a lot to not teaching at all and then starting to do just a few Zoom classes and realizing how much I missed the interaction,” Wright said. “There’s no substitution for the real thing and being outdoors and painting from life”.”

“The gallery I’ve been at for seven years is closed down I’ve had to go a lot more online be my own promoter as many artists have to be their own shameless self-promoters,” Wright said. “Just learning to be adaptable I guess. When the gallery I was in closed I started actively seeking other galleries and places to show my work on the island.”

Wright changed her business model a lot. Now offering a combination of Zoom lessons, sip and paint classes, and selling her art, and supporting other artists participating in an online campaign called Artist Support Pledge.

“I look at it every day and every time I look at it it brings me joy which is what artwork should do,” Wright said.

Wright paints a majority of her work painting plein-air, French for painting outside. But her portfolio includes everything from boats, family portraits, beach landscapes, architecture, floral, and commissioned work.

We joined her at the beach on Anna Maria Island as she held one of her first lessons with a new student.

“It’s a win, win and it's a perfect balance because I do collect local artists' works, I take their classes, I like to buy their art,” Deanne Bauer said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to get out with a real live artist in real life in the fresh air and be thankful for where we are.”

Bauer took a couple of Zoom classes with Wright but realized she needed more.

ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska asked Bauer if she’s tried painting outside alone without help.

“Oh, forget it. I’ve tried that before…it goes nowhere” Bauer said.

At the end of the class, Bauer was pleased with her work and looking forward to doing more.

"Better than I thought I would so that means I have a good teacher,” Bauer said. “This is definitely something people should try. I was afraid this is pathetic almost 63 years old and I am afraid to try plein-air and now what was I afraid of?”

Wright says painting is a very solitary profession. She’s looking forward to sharing her gift with others as we rebound out of the pandemic.

"Light a spark in somebody else,” Wright said.