ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The University of Central Florida (UCF) has been offering art classes to veterans at the Lake Baldwin VA Medical Center Domiciliary.
“It’s definitely therapeutic and it’s very enjoyable,” Army Veteran Brian Zarajczyk said. He is taking the classes and says "it is fun to actually learn some fundamentals and some techniques and basics of art."
The domiciliary helps veterans working through addiction, homelessness, and PTSD.
“We have a lot of groups throughout the day with different counselors and therapists and we do a lot of work and this is not that kind of group,” Zarajczyk said. “It’s kind of like just doing art for the sake of art.”
UCF Professor Kevin Haran teaches the classes.
“I’ve got a drawing board with a camera pointed down to it,” Haran said. “So, they can see my hand moving and what I’m looking at.”
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Initially, the classes were in person but the school started doing them online in September because of the coronavirus pandemic. The VA provides computer equipment to the veterans so they can participate.
“That allows me to work with them from a distance without having to be right next to them guiding them,” Haran said.
The veterans get to learn drawing techniques but the lessons are also therapeutic.
“Just that act of trying to get the line and the eye and the hand moving at the same speed can be both relaxing, I believe, meditative,” Haran explained.
Zarajczyk plans to continue drawing.
“I’m really into it now, I’ve already gone out and gotten my own sketch pad and pack of pencil,” Zarajczyk said. “I’m invested now.”
The classes are on Wednesdays and will go back to being taught in person as soon as it’s safe.
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