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Wondering how to cope with COVID-19? Try coloring.

By Amy Melin

When news of the coronavirus became more worrisome, Tia Keobounpheng picked up a pen. A jewelry artist by trade, Keobounpheng returns to a simple form of expression when she wants to calm herself - drawing.

It's a practice she honed over the course of two years when she created one drawing every day. After more than 850 consecutive days, Keobounpheng took a break from the drawings to focus on her fine art - but the coronavirus inspired her to pick up her pen again.

"I was kind of missing that during these stressful times. There were a lot of lessons that I learned over those two years about how to get into the space, how to quiet myself, how to trust myself to start with a line and go forward," Keobounpheng explains.


With her Quarantine Coloring Sheets, Keobounpheng aims to not only provide relief to herself, but to others as well. She posts each daily drawing on her website, where anyone can download a coloring sheet.

Keobounpheng has her audience in mind when creating each piece. "I'm always asking myself, 'Is this going to be fun to color?' And I try to always put a center point to them so that, as people are coloring, they're grounded or there's an opportunity to always feel grounded within that process."

People from around the world have downloaded Keobounpheng's artwork, which she offers for free or a small donation. "I'm happy to be offering this gift to people. I really do think of it as a gift. I also offer up the opportunity for people who can support me to give me a gift of a dollar per download. I don't expect people to do it, I don't want to ask them to do it, but it is supporting me in the same way that you support restaurants when you order takeout. And it is supportive when a lot of people do it," she says.

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This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

In the time of the coronavirus, Minnesota's arts educators have gotten creative in their approaches to keeping students inspired and motivated to continue pursuing even the most social of artistic genres. Find out how they're leveraging digital technologies to keep students drawing, dancing, singing and performing.

One other proven method of keeping stress at bay? Laughter. When comedian Ali Sultan could no longer perform for audiences during a pandemic, he turned to Zoom to keep laughter alive and comedians connected.

Photographer Layne Kennedy is known for his editorial assignment work that sends him around the globe to capture the perfect shot for the likes of National Geographic Traveler, Outside and LIFE. But while sheltering in place, he's focused on a newer craft: making stunning wooden bowls from fallen trees in his Minneapolis neighborhood. 

Amy Melin Read More
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