Art classes growing in popularity

After a period of isolation, seniors have been searching for opportunities to get out again.

After a long and difficult period of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors of Whidbey Island have been searching for opportunities to get out and socialize again.

They’ve found that in Create Space, which has become a safe haven for older folks to practice a variety of artistic pursuits at a low cost.

When Create Space first opened its doors in 2017 as part of the new South Whidbey Community Center, classes catered towards kids. That all changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since children were able to return to school and find a social outlet there, the founders of Create Space decided to focus on working with Whidbey’s elderly population.

Peggy Taylor, one of Create Space’s founders, said studies have shown that when people are involved in creative expression in a non-judgmental atmosphere, it promotes joy and connection.

“Basically, people become healthier and happier when they’re involved with creative expression,” she said.

Taylor, along with Jackie Amatucci and Dorit Zingarelli, founded Create Space. Taylor and Amatucci continue to run it as volunteers.

Earlier this year, Create Space received a $20,000 community services grant from Island County, which came from American Rescue Plan Act funds that the county received. Of the $16.5 million that was allocated to the county, $2 million was directed to community service grants.

The grant has allowed Create Space to pay artists a stipend for the classes they teach. Starting in April of this year, Create Space re-opened fully with classes for adults. Although everyone is welcome to attend, classes take place during the day when seniors have the most flexibility in their schedules.

Nearly 500 people have attended classes this year, with almost all classes filling up and spilling over into a waitlist. Class sizes are small, usually 12 to 16 people, and face masks are required. Participants can consider making a donation of $5 to $10. Taylor explained that the grant needs to be used up by the end of 2023, and once it runs out, donations will keep the classes running. The community has donated a vast amount of art supplies to the organization.

She pointed out that the classes offer low-cost art opportunities for many seniors in the community who may be living on fixed incomes. Students come from all over South Whidbey.

Greenbank resident Cynthia MyoKan Trowbridge relishes the chance to come to Langley, where Create Space and the South Whidbey Community Center is located, a few times a week.

“Living up here in Greenbank, there aren’t a lot of social opportunities,” she said.

She appreciates that the classes are affordable for everyone, and the kind and welcoming atmosphere they provide. She likes to compare Create Space to a grandmother with 100 grandchildren.

“I just like that there’s such a huge variety of opportunities there,” she said. “I’ve done improv, I’ve done painting, I’ve learned drawing, I’ve made 3D figures.”

Some upcoming classes include watercolor journaling, jewelry-making and poetry.

Taylor said families are invited to make lanterns at Create Space from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14. At 5 p.m. on Dec. 16, a lantern walk will take place in downtown Langley at Healing Circles.

For more information about Create Space, visit