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‘Joe Wicks, but for art’ - Suffolk mum’s online lockdown classes go viral

PUBLISHED: 14:03 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:03 15 April 2020

Samantha Barnes said the online classes provide a form of escapism for many participants. Picture: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA BARNES

Samantha Barnes said the online classes provide a form of escapism for many participants. Picture: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA BARNES

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Celebrity Joe Wicks might have become the nation’s PE teacher - yet Woodbridge’s Samantha Barnes could be about to become an art teacher not just for Britain, but the whole world.

Samantha Barnes describes her online classes as like 'Joe Wicks, but for art'. Picture: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA BARNESSamantha Barnes describes her online classes as like 'Joe Wicks, but for art'. Picture: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA BARNES

For the classes filmed by her husband Carl Stickley, 57, in her Suffolk studio have attracted a global audience from people looking to take up a new interest and passion during lockdown life.

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The 49-year-old had not even thought of putting her art classes online until a woman who attends her regular real life workshops said how much she would miss them during the shutdown.

So Ms Barnes decided to hold a free online art class on Facebook Live - and, at a stroke, noticed a huge level of interest.

Samantha Barnes has started online art classes from her Woodbridge studio, filmed by husband Carl Stickley. Picture: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA BARNESSamantha Barnes has started online art classes from her Woodbridge studio, filmed by husband Carl Stickley. Picture: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA BARNES

As a mum of two teenagers, she said: “I know how challenging it can be trying to keep little ones entertained all day.”

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As such she decided to expand her online classes for children, as a place where youngsters can “learn to be creative, build confidence and their minds are focused for at least half an hour - meaning parents enjoy a much-needed break”.

Describing the classes, she says: “Think Joe Wicks - but for art” - and has seen the sessions for both adults and children reach tens of thousands of people across the world, from America to India.

Ms Barnes believes that with lockdowns in place all over the world, more people are looking to learn a new skill.

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With her 30min classes, they can take their first steps to artistic expression in bite-size chunks.

“I believe everyone has the ability to draw and I want to help people feel less isolated and anxious and improve mental health and wellbeing through the free classes,” she said.

“They’ve just been incredibly well-received.

“It’s something to do for half an hour where children can get filled up with inspiration and then go off and do the activity themselves.”

It also gives children a crucial outlet with which to express emotions, she added.

Ms Barnes has targeted the classes at beginners, saying that many who have never tried art before feel a great sense of achievement when they produce something they are proud of.

She encourages people to draw from their hearts as oppose to their heads, saying: “First and foremost, it’s something where you can switch your mind off.

“I talk about switching your brain off and letting your hands do the work.

“It is escapism, but it’s also about a feeling of involvement and engaging with other people online. There are quite a few friendships that are made.”

For more information or to join in Ms Barnes’ online classes, visit her website.


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