HANOVER – A big barn at 674 Webster St. fulfilled the dreams of artist and educator Robyn Thompson-Duong, who founded The Art Barn Studio. The airy, wooden interior bustles with adult and children’s classes and monthly sip-and-paint parties.
“I was looking in Boston for a space to rent out for painting parties and classes, but when I saw the barn in Hanover, it was perfect,” said the 43-year-old visual artist.
There are classes on painting, drawing, collages, printmaking and nature journaling. It is a space where the owner combines her artistry and her passion for teaching.
“Since 2008, I have been teaching art in some capacity in private and then public schools,” she said. “The pandemic changed my perception of things. I wanted to do something on my own.”
Thompson-Duong is a contemporary realist painter. She specializes in portraits and is busy with art commissions, exhibits and shows. She gave virtual classes through the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Rhode Island School of Design and taught art at Pierce Middle School in Milton for 10 years.
She is the mother of two girls, ages 8 and 5, and her husband is An Duong. They moved to Hanover to be closer to her family members who live in Marshfield and Plymouth.
During the pandemic, when The Art Barn Studio opened, she began with online classes, then gave in-person lessons limited to one or two students. This summer is the first time The Art Barn is offering children’s classes.
“I’m not sure who has more fun, me or them. I opened it to children because the space is so beautiful and it has a great energy,” she said. “I feel greedy not sharing it. Teaching kids keeps me young.”
Adult clients leave insecurities behind, and being together is therapeutic, Thompson- Duong said.
“You have conversations about life in general,” she said. “There’s a camaraderie that happens and you look forward to the classes.”
Budding and seasoned painters share ideas and encouragement.
“It’s important to be around other artists, being with like-minded people; it’s beneficial all around,” she said.
Portrait painting is her specialty, although Thompson-Duong does a range of artwork that includes landscapes, still life and more.
“I concentrate on portraiture. I love faces and I love the challenge to capture a person’s likeness. I want it to look like the person, and I want it to feel like the person.”
Because of COVID, she went from drawing her clients inperson to looking at photos, and admitted, “It wasn’t as fun. I like to work with people I can talk to and get to know them a bit. It helps to know their personality in order to capture an essence of who they are.”
Now that folks are feeling safer, her in-person classes are growing, and since insecurity is common among beginners, she offers advice.
Practice for five or 10 minutes daily or every other day to improve.
“People think there’s something magical about painting,” she said. “But it’s no different from learning any other skill, whether it’s music, a sport or crocheting. You just have to practice.”
Also, there are videos on YouTube.com to discover the basics, but she prefers the energy of a class.
“It’s easier to teach people in person because I can see things more clearly,” she said.
Art can be good for the mind and soul.
“Creativity is about expressing our inner thoughts and ideas in unique ways,” Thompson-Duong said.”It is essential to our well-being and mental health to participate in creative endeavors.”
For more information, go to www.robynthompsonduong.com.
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Milton resident Suzette Martinez Standring writes Bright Side, a good news column featuring information on the South Shore and the people who live here. If you have an idea for a future column, reach her at [email protected] Also, visit www.readsuzette.com.
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