Shelter-In-Place Stimulates Creativity Among Students

By Stephanie Liu, Staff Writer

// As doctors and nurses put on their masks, politicians take to the media, and families close their doors, students pick up their guitars, grab their paintbrushes, and wield their pens. 

   While COVID-19 and the ensuing shelter-in-place prevent students from engaging in many leisure and social activities, it has not been entirely destructive. A newfound abundance of free time has enabled students to be creative and pursue artistic endeavors in greater depth than ever before.

   The following is a small sample of Acalanes High School students and their quarantine art.

Sophomore Molly Ransdell

   Molly Ransdell, recently featured in the virtual talent show on May 1, is a multi-talented musician; she sings, plays guitar and various other instruments, and records and produces music. Ransdell has developed and shown off her talent for years.

   “I’ve been singing for as long as I remember, picked up the guitar in sixth grade, and have been practicing the piano on my own here and there. I’ve been posting covers on my Instagram since I was in eighth grade,” Ransdell said.

   Ransdell noted that music filled the holes in her schedule that quarantine created.

   “Since quarantine, I’ve definitely had a lot more time to practice and work on music. Because my days are a lot less structured now, I find that I can fit music into my schedule more often,” Ransdell said.

   Ransdell also uses music as a way to counteract the emotional challenges of quarantine.

   “Music and singing allows me to escape from what’s happening when I need it. I also find myself taking singing breaks every so often during the day to refocus myself,” Ransdell said. 

   Ransdell provided a peek into a project she had started: a work-in-progress cover/remix of RoadTrip’s song, “Me and You”.

   She made all of the sounds in the recording with midi instruments, except the main riff, the rolling bass in the pre-chorus and chorus, and one snare effect which she sampled from the original track. Ransdell took the vocals in the video out of the original track using an online a capella creator, and she plans to record her own vocals.

Listen to her version below!

Courtesy Molly Ransdell

Junior Zach Baisas

   Zach Baisas has been painting since his sophomore year and even had some of his work featured at the Visual and Performing Arts Showcase earlier this year. He is interested in building his painting skills and expanding to different mediums. 

   “When it comes to my more contemporary art, I’m trying to focus on my acrylic painting skills since my skills with it are slowly improving,” Baisas said. “I have used pastels, which were much easier to use than paint, but it tends to take more time and more precision.” 

   In addition to painting on canvas, Baisas enjoys doing makeup. He recognizes that it may be unconventional for him to do makeup as a form of self-expression but maintains that it is a valid medium that he is comfortable and confident using.

   “My inspiration for doing makeup was seeing people on social media express themselves through vibrant, creative colors and looks,” Baisas said. “I hope that in the future more and more people are able to express themselves through however they feel is necessary without any stigma.”

Senior Alex Haase

   Alex Haase, with experience and talent in both visual art and music, has used her newfound downtime to work with a variety of instruments and mediums. 

   “I’ve had the chance to pick up my ukulele and guitar. I’ve been painting a lot, making cards and sending them to friends and family, and so much spray painting,” Haase said. 

   Although Haase worked with art and music long before quarantine, she did not have as many opportunities to create due to her busy schedule. 

   “Finding time to really experiment with different mediums and different instruments can become really difficult when you’re at school for the majority of your day and have extracurriculars on top of that,” Haase said. “[Now] I get a lot of time to get back in tune with myself.”

   Haase has found that freeing up her schedule has made her more productive.

   “I’m the most productive when I have free time because being productive is how I relax. So with all of this free time, I’m getting a lot of things done, which is really helping to distract me from some of the high school things I’m missing out on,” Haase said.

   Haase is grateful for the inspirational power of the Acalanes community.

   “I’m definitely more grateful towards my friends and community than disappointed about losing the last semester of high school, and I was able to utilize my artwork to contribute to that support and love that us seniors feel right now,” Haase said.

Senior Shannon Ohleyer

   Shannon Ohleyer now draws and watercolors during her free time, but unlike Haase, art is a relatively new hobby for her. 

   “I’ve been drawing for the [past] year, but I’m definitely doing different stuff now. I used to mainly focus on word art because it’s easy for me to copy fonts, but lately, I’ve been doing some more illustrative type stuff. I’ve also been exploring watercolor, which is very fun, and I’m really excited to keep figuring out better techniques,” Ohleyer said. 

   In addition to exploring more mediums, Ohleyer’s art now focuses on different, more personal themes.

   “Self-development and realization has been a big theme for me during the pandemic. I’ve been trying to find ways to self express more in my art than before,” Ohleyer said.

   According to Ohleyer, art is a nice way to fill up the hours of free time many students find themselves confronted with. 

   “It’s just a nice pastime to add to my usual routine. It keeps my mind active beyond just online school work which I think is keeping me optimistic during all this,” Ohleyer said.

Senior Nicole Wan

   In addition to writing during quarantine, Nicole Wan has also started to sew and embroider to help pass the time. 

   “Recently I’ve picked up sewing and embroidery and sewing clothes that I never got around to fixing. It’s nice adding a personal touch, and I realized that I can also embroider on paper if I wanted to do art, and that’s my newest thing,” Wan said.

   The pandemic not only allowed Wan to create more and branch out into different media, but it also impacted the themes of her writing.

   “I wrote a poem that was supposed to be more about my personal experience or a personal tie I have with all the people in my class, and then halfway through, I watched this video of the nurse breaking down because she couldn’t take the stress anymore, and she felt like no one had enough compassion for each other during this time. It really shifted the entire tone and outlook that I had,” Wan said.

   Her visual art also felt the impact of COVID-19.

   “Even though I’m not a touchy-feely person, I miss being able to reach out and just surprise someone or give them something and see their reaction in person, so I’ve done a lot of nurturing, loving drawings because I miss the people I love,” Wan said.

   Similar to Haase, Wan found that the extra time allowed her to reflect upon herself.

   “I think that this is a time where, if you’re lucky enough to not have to work, you actually have so much uninterrupted time. It’s helped me get to know myself more and find out who I am without my friends,” Wan said.

Read one of Wan’s poems below!

Courtesy Nicole Wan

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