FCT Painting Workshop: The Benefits of Creative Expression

By Alyssa Bravo, Marketing Coordinator

With the ongoing effects of COVID-19, it can be easy to be caught up in the repetitiveness of our everyday lives. Translating our feelings into art can be extremely beneficial and serves as a creative outlet for those seeking to express themselves in some way.

A painting workshop is hosted by the Filipino Centre Toronto (FCT) every Wednesday afternoon. The class is taught by community member and artist Frank Cruzet, who comes from a family of artists and has been painting since he was a child.

An original painting by FCT community member and artist Frank Cruzet. (Photo by Alyssa Bravo)

“I retired 11 years ago from the Toronto Police and now I'm a full-time artist,” says Cruzet. “So for 11 years, I’ve produced a lot of commission work and personal paintings. I go out all the time — mostly every weekend. You’d see me outside in the city, painting on the field.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Cruzet found himself with more time to create art and share his work with fellow artists through social media.

“I know a lot of artists based in the Philippines and I know white artists all over the world. I have a friend from Africa and a friend from Australia, you name it — all over the world,” he says.

As COVID-19 restrictions have loosened, Cruzet has been able to bring his paintings to the Centre to share with other community members, inspiring them to create their own paintings.

Rene Calalang has been attending the FCT’s art workshop since before the pandemic began, but his affinity for the hobby only truly began during lockdown.

“Say, for example, I want to paint clouds. I just Google how to paint clouds and they give you the instructions, step-by-step. That was basically my schooling,” he says. “On YouTube, there are lots of good artists out there that are willing to share their knowledge. It’s not always good the first time, but one thing good about painting is you can paint over it and do it again.”

FCT community member Rene Calalang shows one of his original paintings. (Photo by Alyssa Bravo)

According to an article published to Tessera of Brandon, having a creative hobby like painting can help to keep the mind strong and improve overall quality of life.

“When you’re doing a painting, you forget everything,” says Cruzet. “Your concentration is there. You forget everything — the weather, sunny or rain, you forget those things. You just want to finish the piece.”

Community member Joey Baking also believes that art can help to alleviate the stresses of everyday life and COVID-19.

“To be able to create something that looks beautiful, and it's utterly uplifting in this crazy time, and it’s also an outlet for the creative,” he says. “So I think that's the thing: it’s therapeutic and it’s a good release for them.”

A painting workshop as hosted by the FCT on Sept. 15, 2021. (Photo by Alyssa Bravo)

As for those who aspire to pursue art, Cruzet advises to never quit and continue painting.

“It’s just like basketball. When you stop playing basketball, and then they put you back out there, man, you’re gonna be rusty,” he says. “Every time you finish an artwork, one piece of painting, you discover something about yourself, which can only matter.”

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