Gallery owner Cindy Stevens is staying connected to the children in the community with Kids Art Bags filled with supplies to encourage creativity.
“The kids are pretty anxious now, too, and it calms their brain and they’re so excited to get them and open it up, which really makes me feel good,” said Stevens, of Cindy Stevens Fine Art in Clinton.
For this artist, connecting with the children is an extension of her Kids Art Classes.
“People are so supportive of my place, this project – it’s very overwhelming to me,” she said, through tears. ”I appreciate it all, it’s so positive. It’s nice to know that what you do makes an impact on people and that’s really cool for me.”
Sketch books, watercolors and brushes, pastels, crayons, markers, plus a smaller bag full of unique collage papers along with a glue stick are being assembled by Cindy Stevens, along with her husband, Gary, and assistant, Isabelle Reina.
Cindy and Gary Stevens have been folding 12- by 18-inch white sulphite paper and stapling them together to make individuals 16-page sketchbooks.
It is this ingenuity that has allowed Stevens to keep the cost of the bags at $5.
She is looking to grow the project by adding an adult bag for $10 and possibly creating other more intricate art projects.
“It’s pretty loose,” she said. “They don’t have to do it a certain way. It’s not like I’m doing a video they have to follow.”
Yet, if budding artists want some guidance, Stevens does post some videos to her Facebook with ideas and suggestions.
One very important message Stevens stresses is that these young artists should work without guidance from their caregivers.
“I’m really hoping it’s really a calm thing for the kids and the parents,” she added.
For local resident Liz Ruggiero this is certainly true in her house.
Ruggiero’s two children, Zoe, 12 and Audra, 9, have taken art classes with Cindy Stevens Art Studio and everyone in the family are excited about the art bags.
“It’s a really cute idea. She’s thought of everything,” Ruggiero said, adding that her children were working on an Earth Day project.
“They love art and do their own, so just giving them paper and paint, they’re good to go,” said Ruggiero of her daughters who attend Jared Eliot School middle school and Lewin G. Joel Jr. School elementary school.
“We go over to all our stuff and it’s now art class,” she said. “Most of is probably ideas from Cindy or supplies from Cindy, so it’s fantastic.”
For those families unable to afford the cost, Stevens is working with Families Helping Families, Inc., a nonprofit organization that assists families in need.
Community members are helping with this part of the project by contributing money.
Since starting the project, Wednesday, March18, Stevens has sold over 400 bags. She never imagined the project would be such a popular item.
“It’s all I’m doing,” she said, laughing. “I’m packing these in my sleep.”
Stevens emphasized that she is very conscious of social distancing and cleanliness, packing the bags with gloves on. In addition, she has individuals prepay and the bags are outside her shop for pickup.
While Stevens is doing this project for the children, she admits that it is very therapeutic for her to be working on it.
“It gives me something positive to focus on,” she said. “It’s a very positive distraction and I feel like I’m doing a good thing and taking my mind off the world.”