Although social distancing guidelines have been in place for a few weeks now, trying to find effective and engaging ways to occupy our increased downtime can still be challenging.
That’s where Great Candadian Baking Show illustrator Kenna Barnes comes in.
Like many of us, when the reality of our current situation began to set in, Barnes found herself filling her days monitoring the news with anxious uncertainty. Realizing she needed a change of pace, Barnes turned to what she knows best: illustrating.
"I decided that I needed to focus my energy on something productive, and something that would last the duration of the isolation, not just the duration of a closet clean-out," Barnes explains. "I saw other people doing online activities, like dance classes or fitness lessons, and I thought it was such a great idea! I loved the way it brought everyone together, and added some joy in such a crazy time."
On March 17, Barnes released her first downloadable colouring sheet. Since then, she’s released 15 more, each with their unique and vibrant personality. And because her illustrations are so meticulous and elaborate, colouring them in can turn into a multi-hour project.
"Colouring is a great way to reduce anxiety, and there are a lot of parents looking for indoor activities for their kids, so it was a win-win for everyone," Barnes continues. "There are a lot of other artists sharing colouring pages as well, and every time I see one, it warms my heart. While we keep our anxiety down by drawing the pages, others can keep theirs down by colouring them."
And if providing time-consuming, stress-reducing, top quality illustrations wasn’t enough, Barnes is also using her illustrations to help promote local Toronto businesses like Stubbe Chocolates and King’s Diner.
"Helping to remind everyone that their favourite local spots could use their support wasn’t really a conscious choice, it’s just something I feel is important," says Barnes. "Small businesses will suffer the most during these unexpected circumstances, so everyone has to think about where they want to spend their money, and which companies they want to support. These shops and restaurants are what make a city unique; it would be devastating to lose any of them."
Barnes is currently giving away a custom cake illustration to one lucky fan on her Instagram account. The winner--to be revealed on Sunday, April 5--will receive a personalized, printed illustration of a cake of their choosing.