Beat the winter blues, and bring your regular blues along. The Willow is here for another great Arts Training season.

This season, we hope to spark small moments of joy and creative discovery, introduce new art skills, and foster an inclusive space for folks to explore and express themselves authentically, all from the safety of our homes. 

Willow Arts Community provides access to arts training courses for our membership to learn from professional artists in our community (many with lived experience of mental health/substance use) while fostering connection and collaboration with fellow Member Artists. This is what peer support is all about.

There are a couple of ways to participate this season:
  1. We are offering six multidisciplinary Arts Training Courses that require commitment and registration. Registration opens December 7. All courses are delivered virtually.
  2. The 12-week Open Studio/Peer-Support and the Zine Project are great opportunities for Member Artists to connect, create, and participate with no commitment. 
We have room for new folks to join as Member Artists. If you are an 18+ artist or creative with lived experience of mental health/substance use in Niagara, please reach out via phone 905-328-9277 or email We will schedule a phone chat and complete the membership process together. Membership is free, and there is no cost to participate.  

With love and creativity,
Shauna MacLeod
Founder/Director and Fellow Member Artist


Registration and commitment required. Registration begins December 7. Folks must complete the membership process before participating. Call 905-328-9277 or Email to learn more. Membership is free, and there is no cost to participate. 

Colour Mixing For Visual Artists

With Jana Bergsma
Dates: January 5 - February 12 
6 YouTube videos circulated on Tuesdays
6 Zoom check-ins on Fridays 1 - 2 PM
Art kits will be delivered

Do you feel overwhelmed by colour theory? Fully understanding your pigments can be a powerful tool for creating vibrant pieces of art. This is the colour mixing class I wish I had access to when I started painting professionally 12 years ago. Designed for painters but suitable for all kinds of visual artists. I will show you how to confidently mix any colour, find your unique limited colour palette and get the most out of your pigments. Each week, registered participants will have access to a YouTube lesson/demonstration. A weekly Zoom check-in will follow for the group to share their work (optional), and ask questions. Painting experience is welcomed but definitely not required. I will teach you the rules so you can confidently break them.

Songs from the Willow - Online Edition

With Joe Lapinski
Dates: January 6 - March 24 
12 Zoom sessions Wednesdays 6 - 8 PM 
In-Person Recording Sessions dates to be determined. More details to follow. 
Let’s find our INNER SONG. We’ve all got a song inside of us that needs to be revealed. We’ll look at a wide variety of techniques that will help in the process of songwriting: listening to music together, writing exercises, meditation, discussion, collaboration, and more! We will also spend time during classes looking at a specific genre or style of music and examining what makes it “tick”. We’ll use this as inspiration for our own writing. Our discoveries may lead to complete songs, or simply the seeds to songs that we pursue outside of class. The idea is to open ourselves up to all the possibilities of what our inner song will be. Member Artists will be invited to record their original songs in a professional recording studio. More details to follow.

Acting Out!

With Matthew Beard
Dates: January 7 - February 11
6 Zoom sessions Thursdays 6 - 8 PM

In this course, we will focus on practicing the improvisational skills of acceptance, listening, and joy that will have Member Artists creating scenes “on the spot.” With an emphasis on community and connection, you will learn to create in the moment with your scene-partners and discover how much fun a video call can really be. This 6-week course is filled with improv games that will help to create a sense of camaraderie, provide a lot of laughter, and help to build trust in yourselves and others as you create and explore scenes together. No previous experience is necessary. 

Movement-Based Expressive Arts

With Maggie Forgeron
Dates: February 18 -  March 25
6 Zoom sessions on Thursdays 6 - 8 PM

There is an essential connection between life and dance that can facilitate healing and change. In this workshop series, we are interested in expanding our relationship to dance in a way that includes the here and now of people’s authentic life experiences,
rather than only relying on a specific dance form or technique. Life itself feeds the dance, and the dance informs what matters most in our lives. This 6-week workshop series will explore the subtle movements back and forth in which the body, imagination, and feeling interact, intersect and inform each other. It will include a series of movement-based activities that are combined with drawing and poetic dialogue, guiding participants into creative play. This course is appropriate for all bodies and no previous experience is necessary.

Collage Techniques

With Jenn Judson
Dates: February 16 -  March 26
6 YouTube lessons circulated on Tuesdays 
6 Zoom check-ins on Fridays 4 - 5 PM
Art kits will be delivered 

This course explores the dynamic medium of collage as a calming way to stay connected and creative in these challenging times. Participants will learn the fundamentals of composition, layering, abstraction and self-reflection using various collage techniques and experimentation. Techniques such as photo transfers, photo manipulation, and texture building will be covered as building blocks to the creation of amazing collages. By the end of the course, students will give a second life to their found materials and be able to recognize a deep beauty in the simple scraps we often ignore in our day to day life. Step-by-step lessons will help participants to grow their skills, confidence and unique, creative style!

Telling Your Story: sharing of personal stories through creative writing

With Emily Gillespie
Dates: February 16 -  March 23
6 Zoom sessions on Tuesdays 2 - 4 PM

Is there a topic that you want to write about? Refine your creative writing skills and re-claim your voice as we explore raw and vulnerable stories about our lives. This class will explore life writing prompts, how to tell stories, and also the professional side, as in how to edit work and get published. Some participants may enter the class with an ongoing project, and the skills learned in this class will enhance the project, others are welcome to start new projects as we explore writing prompts at the beginning of the course. The objective of this class is to provide the tools to explore life writing and gain confidence in writing skills. 
Open Studio/Peer Support and the Zine Project

No commitment required. Folks must complete the membership process before participating. Call 905-328-9277 or email to learn more. Membership is free, and there is no cost to participate.

Open Studio/Peer Support

With John Sweeney
Open to all Member Artists & Instructors
Mondays 1 - 2 PM 
January 4 - March 29 (no session on February 15 for Family Day)
Send an email to and let us know you are interested. We will send you the Zoom link.

Pop in and say hi, share your artwork, and connect with your peers. Each week, John Sweeney will lead improv games, short written activities, visualizations, and other interactive experiences. You are welcome to participate or simply enjoy. The Open Studio/Peer Support helps Member Artists connect with each other in a positive, informal manner while engaging in mini artistic experiences that do not require follow up or regular attendance.


Editor Allison Carroll
Submission Deadline: March 31
Project open to all Member Artists
No registration required.

Project Details:

Hearing Voices: Chatter from the Willow is a seasonal, collaborative zine that acknowledges the perspectives and topics relevant to artists living with mental illness/substance use in Niagara. We aim to capture the heartbeat of the Willow, and share it with the wider community to inspire, educate, reduce stigma, and highlight the talents and points of view of our Member Artists.

The theme of this season’s zine is “Manifesto” and is about giving space for members to ruminate on their sense of self and/or personhood, and the peace and healing that can be found in celebrating, unapologetically, who we are. Send an email to for full project details. 

How to Sign-up for Courses

Registration for the Winter 2021 Arts Training season opens December 7  

Call: 905-328-9277
IM: Instagram / Facebook

To express interest in taking a course, we would like to know the following:

1. Have you completed a membership to become a Willow Member Artist? If not, call or email and we will schedule an appointment. Completing a membership is step 1 for participation. The process takes about 30 minutes and is done over the phone.
2. If yes, what is your 1st, 2nd , and/or 3rd choice of courses?
3. Are you able to take more than one course this season if we can offer your 1st and 2nd choices?

The weekly Open Studio/Peer Support and the Zine Project are available to all Member Artists and do not count towards your 1st or 2nd choice of classes.

Once registration is closed and classes are full, staff will email you with specific details about the course(s). Registration is not first come first served. Staff match Member Artists to the program based on expressed goals and interests during the membership process. Additional factors include: how many Member Artists reach out to participate each season, attendance record/commitment challenges, and concerns following the Code of Conduct are taken into consideration

Folks can join the Willow at any time during a season, but will not be able to attend an Arts Training Course once it has begun. The Open Studio/Peer Support and the Zine Project are available to all registered Member Artists throughout the season. Our Spring 2021 Arts Training Season will begin again in April.

Please continue to use the private Facebook Group to share your work and ask questions. Feel free to reach out to Shauna via email or phone with any questions. 
Willow Arts Community is an arts + peer support organization dedicated to reducing barriers and providing opportunities for adult artists and creatives living with mental illness/substance use disorder in Niagara.

We use the arts as an agent of social change by connecting and engaging with the public through exhibitions, publications, and performances to lessen the effects of stigma and social isolation.

Visit our website to learn more. 
The Arts Training Program is made possible thanks to a partnership with Workman Arts Toronto, and grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, St. Catharines Cultural Investment Program, and the Ontario Arts Council. To make a donation please call 905-328-9277 or email
view this email in your browser
Copyright © 2020 Willow Arts Community, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp