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Nanaimo artist auctions COVID-19-inspired art for pandemic relief charity

Andrea Thomas’s paintings will benefit Nanaimo Community Response Fund
Nanaimo artist Andrea Thomas is auctioning a series of COVID-19-inspired paintings with all proceeds benefitting the Nanaimo Community Response Fund. (Photo courtesy Andrea Thomas)

Last month Andrea Thomas spent two weeks in self-imposed quarantine after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and the Nanaimo artist is now auctioning off the paintings made during that time to help others affected by the virus.

Thomas said painting has “always been a form of therapy for me,” and once she started feeling better she painted an anatomically correct heart inspired by the hearts people have been displaying in their windows thanking health-care workers. But she didn’t stop there.

“I did the lungs second and thought, ‘Oh, I can do a whole series of COVID-themed paintings,” Thomas said. “And every single day I just busted out a new canvas and started getting my creative juices flowing.”

Thomas made nine more paintings in her series, including that of a coughing mouth, two figures standing six feet apart, a health-care worker, a swing set behind caution tape and a gun shooting a COVID-19 particle.

Thomas then shared the paintings on Get Down with the Lockdown, a global Facebook group with nearly 50,000 members sharing art and music, and she said the reaction to her work was “overwhelming.”

“I posted and then it was maybe three hours later I opened up my Facebook page and I had all these notifications and at that point … I think there was like 500 likes on it and I was like, ‘Holy crap,’” she said.

Thomas said she had 1,000 likes by the end of the day, more than 75 comments on her posts and she started receiving private messages from people across Canada asking if her paintings were for sale. But she wasn’t interested in making a profit.

“I’m one of the fortunate people that gets to work from home during this time so I haven’t been affected financially. I don’t need the money. I don’t necessarily want to sell the paintings,” she said.

Thomas said she normally just gives her work away when people show an interest, but in this case she saw the potential to do some good. She reached out to the Nanaimo Foundation and the Tom Harris Community Foundation and offered to auction off her paintings with all proceeds supporting the Nanaimo Community Response Fund, a joint effort of the two groups that aims to provide relief for those who are struggling due to COVID-19.

“As I kept producing I was adding photos of the paintings to the [Facebook] page and got a really positive response from it,” Thomas said. “So I thought, ‘I wonder if I could do something bigger with this and actually help?’”

The paintings can be viewed and bid upon here. Bidding starts at $200 and is open until May 15.

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