HANNOVER – A large barn at 674 Webster Street fulfilled the dreams of artist and educator Robyn Thompson-Duong, who founded The Art Barn Studio. The airy, wooden interior is packed with activities for adults and kids, and monthly sip and paint parties.
“I was looking for a space in Boston 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 courses in painting, drawing, collage, printmaking and nature journalism. It’s a place where the owner combines her artistry and her passion for teaching.
“Since 2008, I’ve kind of taught art in private and then public schools,” she said. “The pandemic has changed my perception of things. I wanted to do something of my own.”
Thompson-Duong is a contemporary realist painter. She specializes in portraits and engages in art commissions, exhibitions and shows. She has taught 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 a mother of two girls aged 8 and 5 and her husband is An Duong. They moved to Hanover to be closer to their family members who live in Marshfield and Plymouth.
During the pandemic, when The Art Barn Studio opened, she began teaching online classes and then gave in-person classes limited to one or two students. This summer, The Art Barn is offering children’s classes for the first time.
“I’m not sure who’s having more fun, me or her. I opened it up to kids because the space is so beautiful and has great energy,” she said. “I’m greedy not to share it. Teaching kids keeps me young.”
Adult clients move on from insecurities and being together is therapeutic, Thompson-Duong said.
“They have conversations about life in general,” she said. “There’s a camaraderie that develops and you look forward to the classes.”
Budding and experienced painters share ideas and encouragement.
“It’s important to be with other artists, with like-minded people; it’s beneficial all around,” she said.
Portraiture is her specialty, although Thompson-Duong does a range of artworks including landscapes, still lifes and more.
“I focus on portraits. I love faces and I love the challenge of capturing a person’s likeness. I want it to look like the person and I want it to feel like the person.”
Due to COVID, she went from drawing her clients in person to looking at photos, admitting, “It wasn’t that much fun. I enjoy working with people I can talk to and getting to know them a bit. Knowing their personality helps to capture an essence of who they are.”
Now that people are feeling more confident, her personal tuition is increasing, and since insecurity is rampant among beginners, she offers advice.
Practice for five or ten minutes every day or every other day to improve.
“People think there’s something magical about painting,” she said. “But it’s no different than learning any other skill, whether it’s music, sports or crocheting. You just have to practice.”
Also, there are videos on YouTube.com to explore the basics, but she prefers the energy of a class.
“It’s easier to teach people face-to-face 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,” said Thompson-Duong. “Participating in creative endeavors is essential to our well-being and mental health.”
Visit www.robynthompsonduong.com for more information.
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Milton resident Suzette Martinez Standring writes Bright Side, a good news column with information about the South Shore and the people who live here. If you have an idea for a future column, reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit www.readsuzette.com.
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