Kristina Sparacino, the director of marketing for Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, was thinking of ways to produce emotional relief for hospital employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then she passed Kori Clark's heartbeat abstract artwork while walking down a hallway in the hospital.
Sparacino also knew Schroeder-Manatee Ranch had been offering various online programs to give the community recreational opportunities while staying at home during the pandemic. Sparacino thought Clark might be willing to get on board with a children's art program.
So she hooked up SMR's Monaca Onstad, the director of LWR Community Relations, with Clark on a conference call. Onstad had been looking for kids' activities to present online.
The result was Create for Care: Art Projects for Kids, a free class led each week by Clark, who donates her time.
"As you probably know, Kori is an amazing artist," Onstad said. "The idea was to have our community create artwork each session, post the artwork to Facebook, and the LWR Medical Center would print and hang the artwork as encouragement to our healthcare workers."
The artwork was taped to the walls in the hospital's Inspiration Station room. On June 8, ICU registered nurse Nikki Mattern came into the room to check out the children's art.
"When it's been a bad day, we come in here," Mattern said. "We definitely appreciate it."
Those who take the class, which ran for eight consecutive weeks before changing to its current every other week format, appreciate it as well.
"Kori is wonderful," said GreyHawk Landing's Denise West. "My daughter Kylie (8 years old) looks forward to it."
Onstad said more than 3,000 participants have signed up for the class each week it has been offered. The participation has remained steady throughout.
"Given the success, we decided to continue the segment as part of our online programming through Facebook," Onstad said. "We could not be more thrilled about our partnership with Kori."
Clark had done do-it-yourself art projects on her website (koriclark.com), but this online class has been a new experience for her.
"We wanted to give the kids something extra to do while they were stuck at home," Clark said. "We started doing it and the parents go in on it, too."
Clark said the kids would post their work online and the parents would also put up their own paintings. She concentrates mostly on presenting water color paintings because only a few materials are needed.
Subject matter has varied, but Clark said the kids seem most interested in animals or living creatures. She said her first few subjects were "kind of girly" so she had the kids draw stingrays and later dinosaurs.
The age group is most 7- to 12-year-olds, which would seem to be quite a gap in terms of talent levels and attention span, but Clark said everyone seems to adjust.
"We want to make it enough of a challenge for them to make it fun, but I don't worry about the younger kids. I've had 7-year-olds who blow right through the projects and 12-year-olds who are very exact about everything they do. I've also found that some of the things I thought were going to be hard ended up being easy."
Clark is on camera live, but there is no interaction with the young artists to allow the sessions to move right along. The classes are less than 30 minutes.
"Nobody wants to hear me talk that long," Clark said with a laugh from her home office in Mill Creek. "And I can talk."
The finished projects all are on display at mylwr.com and past classes are available there as well. The projects also can be found at koriclark.com and on Clark's Facebook page at Kori Clark Design.
She doesn't think she will ever be leading her own art show in television but she feels her personality works well with the kids.
"I'm calm and I'm unintentionally a little goofy," she said. "It's a mom thing."
Clark and her husband, Chris Clark, have two children in 12-year-old Charlotte and 10-year-old Holden.
Besides being a fun project, Clark teaches the kids about subjects such as gradiance, shading and shadowing.
"Most of all, I want them to understand it doesn't have to be perfect," Clark said. "Whether they are doing it, or a parent, or me, it's different every time. When you draw a flamingo, there will be fat ones and skinny ones."
While she doesn't get paid for the class, Clark said she benefits because she loves art so much, and also because it brings a sense of normalcy into her life at a difficult time with the pandemic.
I schedule all my other Zoom conferences on the same day of my class because that is the one day in a week where I have to put on makeup," she said.