Coronavirus outbreak inspires Texas artist

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) – Stephen Edward Rousset spent a day at The Art Studio Inc. working out the details on a new painting from his space at TASI. Outside the building, a sign was posted that the studio was closed, but tenants could enter to work in studio spaces “at their own risk.”

For Rousset, as for many artists, working provides a kind of therapy and outlet from the anxiety of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, The Beaumont Enterprise reported.

And it has inspired new paintings, as artists such as Rousset try to capture the fear, feelings and moment of this historic event.

It also provides inspiration to paint through the moment and explore and work through the feelings that ensue.

Rousset, now 27, began seriously painting about four years ago, though he has dabbled in art and drawing since he was far younger.

His shift to a more serious pursuit of art was inspired by encouragement from his cousin Brittney Drinkard, an artist and high school art teacher.

Almost a year prior, he faced the loss of his father to cancer. In with the loss and the emotions he experienced, “painting helped me push all that out and process” those feelings, he said.

He recalled a quote from C.S. Lewis that later became an inspiration for a three-dimensional piece: “No one ever told me grief felt so like fear.”

He said the quote could apply to what many are dealing with now amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Until something like this (a loved one’s death) happens to you, you don’t know how that feels, how serious it is,” he said..

The emotion of fear presents its own challenges to remaining in the moment and coping with your emotions.

In his own experience, coming back to art and painting in the wake of personal loss, he said, “painting taught me how to be present. There’s a quote I saw about the two things people suffer from most – memory and imagination. You are either too focused on the past or too anxious about the future.”

“We don’t have much control over everything, but we can control our reaction to it,” he said. “Whatever your medium, you have to find some way to get your anxiety out. Fear feels really real, it feels really real, but it can be an illusion. We can get stuck in a mental loop.

“That’s something I’m still learning that my dad taught me – progress, not perfection.”

“We can’t face this perfectly, but we can keep moving forward,” he said.

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