"Somewhere In Umbria"

Artist Jan Norsetter’s depiction of a scene from Umbria, Italy.

A Verona-based artist is participating in “The Great American Paint In,” a virtual juried collection of pieces depicting what COVID-19 isolation has been like the last four months.

As Jan Norsetter has spent more time at home during the pandemic, she told the Press she reminisced about a trip she took to Umbria, Italy a few years ago. The countryside of that city became the subject of her “Great American Paint In” submission. It depicts a field of hay bales with houses and a mountainscape in the distance. The sky is cloudy and all seems quiet — Norsetter said the scene titled “Somewhere In Umbria” makes her feel at ease, and she hopes the painting evokes that same feeling in spectators.

“Those memories of going to Italy have been some of the most pleasant I have,” Norsetter said.

Norsetter joins artists from Florida, New York, Massachusetts and other states as they “capture this unique moment in history through art,” an event news release states. The release states collectors can purchase works from the project’s website at thegreatpaint-in.com. Organizers will collect works in a tabletop art history book when the paint in is completed, according to the release.

Jo LaBorde, “Great American Paint In” editor in chief, told the Press the application process began when the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were first being felt in the United States in March. The project itself is the “brainchild” of art collector and marina owner Bill Weinaug, who lives and works in Barcelona, Spain. He observed how his daughter, Ashley, was coping with the pandemic.

“As Ashley first started seeing the devastating impacts of COVID-19 in Europe, and being locked in herself, she discussed with her father how the (marina) could give back not only to the community, but to the nation,” LaBorde wrote in an email. “Several ideas were shared and discussed and one of them was a virtual gallery — and thus ‘The Great American Paint In’ was born.”

She said the site now features works from over 163 artists and will continue accepting submissions for the time being. Pieces can be in any form, medium, or size but “must convey the emotions and viewpoints of the artists from their corners of the world during this experience.” Norsetter, when she entered her submission, included her own pandemic story and a professional reference.

Norsetter said, like many other artists who are part of the project, the paint is a way for her to showcase her work during an economic crisis.

“I think it’s been really rough on many artists because they’ve depended on their work for their income and survival,” she said.

In addition to the paint in, Norsetter has been working on commissions and selling more of her pieces online through Facebook and Instagram since she hasn’t been able to attend in-person events or conduct workshops.

Norsetter sold a painting to an online client who told her the following:

“She said ‘If I can’t travel for real, I can travel in these paintings.’”

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.

Emilie Heidemann joined Unified Newspaper Group in 2018, where she serves as the community and business editor for four publications, as well as a quarterly magazine. Emilie covers the Village of Oregon and Fitchburg community beat.