Article Originally Published by Haley Arnold on North Texas Daily
At a time when many in-person events have been canceled or postponed and social distancing is encouraged, Denton’s Wildflower Art Studio offers people across the country a way to practice creativity at home, through their personal art kits and virtual workshops.
Emile Stewart, founder and CEO of Wildflower Art Studio in Denton, is a former high school art teacher who resigned in 2013 to pursue her art business full time. Her business started to gain popularity with her calligraphy and watercolor workshops, which eventually led her to create something that could be accessible to people around the country.
“I also had a new baby, and I started getting requests to teach all over the United States, and it wasn’t feasible to get on an airplane with a two-week-old, so I made a kit that was a workshop in a box,” Stewart said. “At the time it was the only thing like that on the market.”
Currently, Wildflower offers four kits: the calligraphy kit, brush lettering kit (which she said is a more user-friendly, mess-free way to achieve the calligraphy style), hand lettering kit and watercolor kit. The most popular of the kits, she said, is their calligraphy kit.
“It teaches a traditional technique that is challenging to learn, but a lot of people can’t make it to a workshop,” Stewart said. “If you don’t live in a big city or don’t have access to a calligraphy workshop, [the kit] brings everything that you would need for that to your home in a little box.”
Each kit is geared toward beginners and includes an instructional booklet. The Wildflower art kits, she said, have made it on Amazon’s best seller list several times since 2014.
Grayson Padgett, a teacher from Spartanburg, Georgia, recently purchased Wildflower’s hand lettering kit. She said she would recommend the kit to others, including beginners.
“I’m enjoying the kit,” Padgett said. “I am trying to learn how to do hand lettering for crafts and my classroom. I loved the supplies that came with the kit.”
After obtaining Wildflower Art Studio’s brick-and-mortar facilty in Denton nearly three years ago, Stewart opened up her business to in-person workshops. While the COVID-19 pandemic has lead her to shut the doors to the studio for now, she said her original plans for the year allowed her to work around the closure.
“I like coming up with new and interesting things, and ironically, my new and interesting thing for 2020, as planned in 2019, was online workshops,” Stewart said.
Soon after the pandemic hit, the Wildflower team worked on assembling the videos and course materials so that they could get the online workshops out earlier than anticipated.
“I was getting hundreds of emails every week [about] how our kits and our workshops were impacting people’s lives,” Stewart said. “It was challenging for a lot of people to be stuck at home and have these huge life changes.”
Online workshops are currently available for art journaling, hand lettering and Gouache painting. Stewart said the workshops are more advanced and comprehensive than the kits, including one year of access to educational modules, video workshops and email support.
The pandemic also prompted Stewart to create an online creative retreat. While in-person retreats were originally scheduled for both May and June, the Wildflower team decided to move them online as a creative resource for people during the health crisis. The retreat, Stewart said, is intended to also serve as a mental health tool, and Wildflower has had hundreds of people participate thus far.
“Creativity is just so powerful and it really is healing, it really is powerful and it really is necessary,” Stewart said. “So that was really cool to see [the response from participants] and be a part of that in a challenging global pandemic.”
Baltimore resident Metta Edwards had previously purchased a calligraphy kit before she found the online retreat.
“Being that it was mid-quarantine, I needed to get out of my apartment, [and] I felt like this was the perfect outlet,” Edwards said.
As a lover of the arts but not a drawer or painter herself, Edwards said the retreat has allowed her to express herself fully.
“I suffer from chronic anxiety, so this was the perfect way to get out in nature and have some me time,” Edwards said. “It’s super engaging, with an entire portal of info and ideas for your retreat, and there’s a Facebook group to keep you engaged with the studio and others doing the retreat.”
Stewart said for now, her goal is to provide as many resources as possible to customers through the kits, online workshops and retreats so that people everywhere have a way to get creative.
“Just like exercise is important for our bodies, creativity is important for our mind,” Stewart said. “And I think historically, it’s been a little bit undervalued. The assumption was creativity was for artists, or only talented people need to be creative, but I just think that’s not the case at all. Anyone who is alive and breathing is born with an innate need to create.”
Courtesy Will Milne for Wildflower Art Studio
Source: North Texas Daily