Aspiring artists, stressed-out students and curious amateurs can channel their inner Van Goghs, Picassos and Monets through UT’s newest painting club, Project: Paint.
Project: Paint provides a relaxed but structured atmosphere for painters of varying skill levels. The club, which business freshman Julia Lu and philosophy freshman Grace Thomas founded this semester, welcomes students of all majors.
“Once you get into college, you want to explore who you are and try different things,” Thomas said. “You get [so] caught up in your major and résumé-building that you don’t explore other options, so this is an opportunity for those who are not in art to indulge in that artistic endeavor outside of academics.”
The club focuses specifically on canvas painting and meets for two hours each week. Club members can come and go any time during those two hours. To encourage new members who may not already own art supplies, the club pairs with the University Co-op to offer members a special discounted art package that includes canvas, brushes and paints for a little more than $30.
Members bring their own supplies, canvas and easel, as well as any paintings they are already working on, to each meeting. They paint in a variety of styles, from bold landscapes to colorful abstracts. The club members exchange critiques, tips and suggestions in a casual group setting.
Thomas, who has been interested in art since she was young, said she values the social aspect of art and the opportunity to bond with people who have similar interests. She and Lu formed the idea for the club last semester when they discovered their mutual love of art.
“I remember one day, as we were getting to know each other, [Lu] came out with her sketchbook, and she was just showing me some of her stuff,” Thomas said. “I paint, and that’s when we first found out we both shared this interest.”
They added marketing sophomore Kelsie Rogers to their staff as their marketing and creative director. Although Rogers said she doesn’t necessarily consider herself an artist, she said she never felt deterred from joining the club.
“I like art of all kinds, so I thought it would be a cool way to expand my horizons,” Rogers said. “In my management class, we learned that learning new skills is a great way to expand knowledge. I thought I’d put that idea to the test and get involved.”
The three students appreciate art for a variety of reasons. Lu said breaking out her canvas and paints this semester helped her realize how therapeutic painting can be.
“It’s a very in-the-moment kind of thing where you get to focus on yourself but in a non-conventional way,” Lu said. “When I draw or paint, it’s like conscious meditation. It’s a time for you to reflect on yourself. To me, it’s that moment that I really like.”
Rogers said art can bring people together in a community and said it’s important that students at UT do not feel alone when they face struggles.
“We all know what the stress of a college student feels like, but painting is a way in which we can come together to alleviate some of that stress,” Rogers said. “Creating that community through a medium as cool and challenging as art is pretty awesome.”
Thomas said she finds the way people observe, engage with and communicate through art fascinating.
“People have so many different viewpoints of what the artist is trying to convey,” Thomas said. “When you get to create that and partake in that little world, I think it’s really rewarding.”
Lu said there’s a very simple reason to go and check out the club: “It’s fun. Period.”