Marshall students share art, accept commissions during time of uncertainty


Paige Looney

Art done by Paige Looney during COVID-19 quarantine.

While Marshall University’s classes are moved online and students are encouraged to move home and practice social distancing, some are finding ways to brighten the current situation through their art.

Kathryn Thompson, an English graduate student, created 10 coloring pages that she shared on her social media for anyone to download. She said she was inspired by other artists she follows on Instagram who were sharing free downloads to pass the time during the COVID-19 quarantine.

“It was such a nice gesture, kind of a way to recognize we’re all going through this together, and we need to help encourage each other however we can,” Thompson said. “When I saw those posts, I knew I wanted to do something like that.”

Kathryn Thompson
Art done by Kathryn Thompson during COVID-19 quarantine.

After asking her Instagram followers what content they’d be interested in, their answers being either mythological or Bible figures, she decided to focus on some of her favorite figures of Greek mythology. She began creating her coloring pages that same day.

“The Greek gods are pretty recognizable, which I hope makes these a little more appealing,” Thompson said. “I looked at some Google images of ancient statues of the Greek pantheon as a reference for my depictions, sketched them out in pencil, inked them in, scanned them and cleaned them up a little bit.”

Thompson said she is also considering making Egyptian, Norse and Celtic mythology inspired coloring pages, as well as some biblical stories for the week of Easter.

“I think it just depends on the response to these and my energy level,” she said. “I might have gone crazy after another week of quarantine.”

Thompson posted downloadable PDFs on her website, Instagram and Facebook for anyone to access. Her Instagram is @_walkingonthestars_.

“I would love to connect with others and keep up morale—and a socially-distant community—during this time,” Thompson said. “Even though the world is scary, it’s still spring: there’s change, there’s growth, there’s new life. The world is still turning, and it still will.”

Thompson said she hopes people can use her coloring pages as a distraction from the worries of the current pandemic.

“I know how worried we all are about this pandemic, and how frustrating social distancing has been,” she said. “On a deeper level, I hope people see this gesture, and all the other artists’ and businesses’ gestures, as a way to connect socially, even at a distance, as a reminder that we’re all in this together, and the best way to make sure we get through this is to keep up our social fabric of humanity and kindness.”

Paige Looney, a senior political science and history major, has recently learned to embroider and cross stitch, and through her social media, she’s sharing her pieces and accepting new commissions. Embroidery is helping to keep her motivated, she said.

“This is, obviously, a really weird time to be alive right now,” Looney said. “I think the best thing about embroidery is that it requires you to be mindful. I can listen to a podcast or music, but my attention is on the piece. It’s really helpful to focus on what’s right in front of me, instead of constantly worrying.”

Paige Looney
Art done by Paige Looney during COVID-19 quarantine.

Commissions are generally $20-$30, depending on size and complexity of design, Looney said, and those interested in requesting a piece can email [email protected].

“I know it’s a little cliché, but hopefully people find a little happiness in seeing a concept or things that they love brought to life in a new way,” Looney said.

While she’s still learning how to make art, Looney said it is helping her during this time. She recommends others try to create art now, too.

“I don’t know if it looks good or makes sense or is worth anything, but that’s not really the point,” she said. “It’s just nice to make something, especially right now. If you’re feeling lost because of the current situation, sit down and make something. This is a scary time, and it’s important to take care of your emotional and mental health, as well as physical. We can do this. Take care of each other.”

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected].