ArtsMonth Blog

Creating an Art Habit

Art can be used as a coping tool to diminish, accept, or express strong emotions as they arise, or it can be used as a preventative measure to develop stronger physical and mental health practices before difficult emotions arise (because they will). Developing your own arts practice can be a good way to develop both coping tools and preventative strategies, to improve your wellness in a multifaceted way. It is important to note that improving wellness is not necessarily the absence of mental and physical health conditions, but gives us an increased ability to manage them when they arise. Art engagement is a way to build resilience and improve overall wellbeing to help as we approach personal challenges.

Like any habit, practice makes perfect! You may want to start by simply exploring what forms of art you want to incorporate in your life. Maybe you love movies and music—try spending more time watching local theatre productions or attending live concerts. Maybe you enjoy being outside in nature—try expressing the way that nature makes you feel through writing or drawing. Some people enjoy more hands-on activities, such as cooking or pottery. You may want to consider a culinary or pottery class. Part of art is exploration! The first step to developing an art habit is to explore what activities are exciting and engaging for you. Make a list of activities big or small: What do you want to create?

Once your list is created, pick your favorite one and make a plan on how you’ll get started. Maybe you’ll need to make a supply list and collect your artistic tools. Or do some research online to gain inspiration by watching instruction videos by people interested in similar activities, or check out local classes, performances, and artistic resources in your community. Decide when/where you can engage in your art habit throughout the week, so you make a commitment to developing your art habit.

Oh, and lastly, be easy on yourself! Part of the process is trial and error. You don’t need to be a professional artist to experience the benefits of creativity because all sorts of art projects result in “feel good” hormones, regardless of outcome.1 You may want to consider developing an art habit as an experiment. What works for you and what doesn’t? What excites you and what tires you out? Finding your creative passions is part of the process of developing a strong, effective habit.

Some Ideas to Get You Started:

  • Painting, drawing, coloring
  • Listening to music, creating a playlist
  • Playing an instrument
  • Nature walks, dance, yoga
  • Visiting museums, galleries, and public art pieces
  • Join a group or take a class
  • Journaling, poetry, storytelling


  1. Alban, D. (2020, May 06). The Mental Health Benefits of Art Are for Everyone. Retrieved July 01, 2020, from

Arts and the Economy

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major disruption of our national economy and financial markets globally and has resulted in painful impacts on the lives and welfare of countless communities.  The arts, so often dependent on social gatherings, were devastated almost overnight as venues were forced, for health and safety reasons, to close public galleries and cancel performances. Some people might assume that the arts sector failing is not a critical issue, however, consider the contribution the arts made to the national economy in pre-pandemic times and the potential for arts education to provide much needed workforce preparation into the future.

The 2015 Arts & Economic Prosperity: National Study reports that non-profit arts and cultural organizations not only provide employment opportunities, but also contribute significant revenue to local governments and communities.  On the national level, arts organizations “pumped an estimated $63.8 billion into the nation’s economy, supporting 2.3 million jobs, providing $49.4 billion in household income, and generating $11.9 billion in total government revenue.”

Arts education is also gaining recognition as a key component of student’s success in the workplace. As detailed in The Importance of Arts Education in Workforce Preparation, “nearly 45 percent of business executive think that Americans lack the deeper learning skills needed for success in the 21st century workforce—communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.” These critical skills for economic growth are linked to arts education, with numerous studies showing that children who study the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, more likely to participate in a math or science fair, and more likely to elected to class office within their school, while increasing their creative and strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

Read more about how the Arts Impact the Economy:

Arts & Economic Prosperity: National Study:

The Importance of Arts Education in Workforce Preparation:

Meet the Westside Community & Youth Orchestra

Westside Community & Youth Orchestra (WCYO) is a unique blend of approximately 65+ adult community players and youth musicians who join together for rehearsals and concerts from September through May in Washington County. In addition, WCYO is the only orchestra combining both the mentorship of seasoned adult musicians and up and coming youth musicians. Each musician is dedicated to performing together to the utmost of their ability while also continuing to evolve into better and better musicians. WCYO encourages leadership and mentoring on an individual level for all participating members.

Orchestral music is carefully researched and selected for each series by our Conductor/Artistic Director Collin Heade, with the Orchestra’s specific strengths and skills in mind. The carefully chosen pieces are a combination of orchestral and occasional choral classical pieces with everything from show tunes to movie themes to contemporary music designed to challenge our musicians and entertain our loyal audience. Music is researched and purchased and then provided at no charge to our members each series. There are no monetary fees to join WCYO and members bring their own instrument, along with the enthusiasm to collaborate with others, as we grow the music into a memorable experience for our patrons. We are also fortunate enough to rehearse at Liberty High School, using their state-of-the-art Band room and extensive collection of percussion instruments for optimum use of time and talent.

Originally named the Intel Orchestra and led by Rob Archibald to accompany the Intel Singers, the Orchestra coalesced into a larger group with logistics requiring more space and easier rehearsal space access. Rob Archibald was able to realize a long time aspiration by moving the ensemble from secured areas of Intel to Liberty High School in October 2007. This began WCYO’s journey in its new venue, as well as an innovative new blend of both adults and youth musicians in one artistic endeavor.

In normal, virus-free years, we are presently able to offer two free concerts per year, one as our Fall/Holiday Concert in December and the second as our Spring Concert in May. These concerts are free to the Hillsboro community and beyond, with family and friends being the majority of those in attendance. During each of our series, our weekly fast-paced rehearsals reflect intense preparation for upcoming concerts as we learn to collaborate, learn, and lead. In addition, we offer performance opportunities for WCYO musicians in smaller, classical chamber music ensembles which perform in the community and at schools. We presently have a Woodwind Quintet and a String Ensemble in String Quartet format. With incoming donations and grant awards, we have recently been able to offer resources for WCYO musicians wishing to take private lessons to precipitate personal artistic growth with WCYO and beyond. For more information, please contact our website at – Thank you!

The Arts & Wellness

When you think about wellness, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it yearly check-ups at the doctor’s office? Is it making sure you’re taking your medications? Is it taking an art class, listening to music, or attending a theatre performance? What would your life be like if the ARTS were considered a part of your wellness? While Western medicine has provided our world with many powerful tools to promote wellness, the medical system has been increasing their scope of practice to include more holistic views of care. Health care systems are acknowledging the benefits of including art and creativity as a part of overall physical and mental wellbeing. The value of art, in its many forms, has proven time and time again its ability to enrich and promote a healthy quality of life.

For example, listening to music has been shown to calm neural activity in the brain, leading to decreases in anxiety and pain along with improvements in immune system functioning.1 Cultural engagement, such as going to the theatre, museums, concerts, or galleries, have been proven to increase cognitive resilience and decrease memory decline in older adults.2 Engagement in art-related activities is also a useful tool for encouraging health-promoting behaviors such as movement, connection to others, and emotional expression—all of which are related to improved mental and physical health outcomes.3 Creating art has also proved useful in improving physiological indicators of health, such as decreasing high blood pressure and reducing the production of stress hormones.

So while you continue to visit your doctor for your health and wellbeing, add in some creative self-care strategies! Visit a museum or gallery, attend a live performance, or find some time to write, draw, paint, or play music. Developing an arsenal of self-care strategies, including art-related activities, can better help you to express yourself emotionally and physically. Your health will be better for the time you spend caring for yourself through art.

Stay tuned for more ideas, examples, and tips for creating your own art habit.


  1. Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. American journal of public health, 100(2), 254–263.
  2. Finn & Fancourt, D. (2019). What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving … Retrieved June 10, 2020, from
  3. Raschke, H. (2017, February 10). Did You Know the Arts Can Lower Your Blood Pressure? Retrieved June 10, 2020, from

Take the 2020 Hillsboro Arts Month Challenge

October is Hillsboro Arts Month and as we all stayed home to save lives this year, music, movies, books, and binge-watching television shows became an even larger part of our lives. But as we safely hunkered down, actors, authors, musicians, and muralists struggled for their economic survival. Many artists are part of the “gig economy” with income that is dependent on being hired to play music in restaurants or at public events. Visual artists lost sales from galleries, art festivals, and show openings. And most arts and cultural organizations planned and rehearsed for months for spring and summer shows that were cancelled. It’s estimated that in Oregon, cultural organizations lost over $40 million dollars by the end of June.

There has been a lot of focus, rightly, on essential services recently. But as the scope of our lives has narrowed, it has brought the power of the arts into sharper focus for many. Music makes our hearts sing in a way that is almost primitive. Enjoying a theatrical production or a good book can transport us from our daily life, challenge us to look at an issue with new perspective, or give us the opportunity to escape. Whether we are a viewer or a maker, visual arts provide new vistas and opportunities to take part in a creative dialogue. Participating in creative expression reduces stress, promotes connection with family and friends, and creates understanding and empathy—something we can all use more of right now.

If you enjoy living in a city with galleries, theaters, chorale groups, orchestras, dance companies, and cultural celebrations take the 2020 Arts Month Challenge and support them today. Additionally, consider matching your donations to the Oregon Cultural Trust and donating the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Endowment Fund to maximize your charitable impact. These cultural entities have been here for us for years, now it’s our opportunity to be here for them.

Support these Hillsboro based arts and cultural organizations:

Airlie Press

Bag&Baggage Productions

Golden Road Arts

HART Theatre

Hillsboro Historical Society

Hillsboro Symphony Orchestra

Hillsboro Tuesday Night Market

The Immigrant Story


Oregon Chorale

Sequoia Gallery + Studios

STAGES Performing Arts Youth Academy

Westside Community and Youth Orchestra

Westside Quilters Guild

Artists Open Their Studios During 2019 Washington County Open Studios Tour

Joyce Gabriel_photo by Rick Paulson_pw
Hillsboro Artist Joyce Gabriel showcasing her artwork in her studio. Photo by Rick Paulson.

One weekend a year, artists and galleries in Washington County, Oregon open their studios to the public, showcasing their art and doing demos. In 2019, 58 artists and four galleries from across the county will participate, from 11 am to 5pm on October 19 and 20. From Susan Curington in Gaston to Linda Gerrard in Beaverton, from Sherwood to Banks. You can see it all, including several from Hillsboro!

Admission is free. Stop in at any of the participating artists and galleries to begin the tour. You can use this interactive map to find the studio closest to you.

The first Washington County Open Studios tour was dreamed up eight years ago in the fall of 2010. Seventeen artists gathered in a living room, planned and took the plunge, holding their inaugural event. Since then, the number of participating artists has tripled, and the number of visitors to their studios is over 2000 on the tour weekend. The range of media found in the tour–from the traditional to contemporary–attracts all walks of life and makes a fine showcase of our neighborhood talent.

The Washington County Art Alliance is proud make their Open Studios tour available to everyone. There is no charge to visit the tour, artist entrance fees are kept low, and many studios are wheelchair accessible. This is made possible by generous sponsors from local businesses, grants from the Cultural Commission of Washington County, the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council and the Beaverton Arts Council.

Click Here to read a Focus Hillsboro interview with Washington County Open Studios founder Peg Falconer.

Information for this article reposted from the Washington County Open Studios website. For more information, visit

Plan Your Arts Month Adventure

Head over Heels_Jun-2017-3516

The research is in: creative experiences are good for you—anything from watching a play to attending a concert, painting a landscape to learning a new recipe. Art boosts your mood, makes memories that bind you to friends and family, raises test scores, and fosters empathy.* Knowing this, how will you celebrate Hillsboro Arts Month? Find some suggestions below or follow your own creative path by visiting our full calendar of events at

Arts Month Family Fun

On October 5, start your Saturday with a walk through Orenco Woods Nature Park and take time for a game of hide and seek in the colossal stickwork sculpture, Head Over Heels, the number one selfie spot in Hillsboro and a great backdrop for a creative family portrait. Enjoy the fall weather with a picnic in the park, or head downtown for wood-fired pizzas at Pizzario before catching La Boheme at the Walters Cultural Arts Center. A production of Portland Opera To Go, this fun, all-ages staging features a shortened version of this classic opera entertaining for younger audiences. Cap off your outing with a shared chocolate fondue or handmade treat from Study of Sweets on 2nd Street.

Jen Champlin_clay

On Sunday, bring the family to enjoy live music and a delicious brunch from market vendors at the Orenco Station Farmers’ Market. Once you’ve fueled up, your crew will be ready to head down to the studio for a ceramics class—everyone can their own ceramic cup, plate, and bowl (for ages 8+) with Jenny Champlin at Sequoia Gallery + Studios.

Arts Fun for 18 and up

On October 19 and 20, over fifty local artists open the doors to their private studios during the Washington County Open Studios Tour, including fourteen artists and two galleries in Hillsboro. The event is free, and a great way to be inspired, learn about the art-making process, and find unique pieces of art for your home or gifts. Make plans to visit studios on Saturday, then enjoy award-winning Japanese food at Syun or South Indian wine and curries at Virundhu. After dinner, head down Main Street to catch Bag&Baggage Production’s October play, A Clockwork Orange.

Joyce Gabriel_photo by Rick Paulson_pw

On Sunday, visit a few more studios, then put what you learned in the studios to use by trying a wine and paint class at Clark’s Bistro and Pub or Oak Knoll Winery.

Weeknight Creative Experiences

If you can’t wait until the weekend for a night of creative fun, join us for ArtFest on October 1 from 5 to 8 pm. Part of First Tuesday at the Walters Cultural Arts Center, the evening features live music, snacks, and new art exhibits at the Walters, along with special performances on the stage and hands-on activities. Then head Downtown to visit other Hillsboro locations featuring work by local artists, live music, and more.

For another Tuesday break, stop by for a drink and appetizers at Primrose and Tumbleweeds in downtown Hillsboro before heading next door to Lines Studio for a drop-in Salsa dance class. Beginner’s classes are 7 – 8 pm, and Intermediate classes are 8 – 9 pm.


Accessible, Vibrant, and Engaging, Portland Opera To Go’s “La Bohème” Comes to Hillsboro

10.5.19_BOHEMEPortland Opera To Go returns to Hillsboro with the classic opera tale La Bohème on Saturday, October 5 at the Walters Cultural Arts Center (527 East Main St.). Full of romantic intrigue, La Bohème is a riveting tale of love and loss that has continued to move audiences for over a century. The afternoon will consist of 50 minute opera performance, followed by time for audiences questions and meeting the performers. Doors open at 1 p.m. with a 2 pm show time. The program is recommended for ages 12 and above and admission is a suggested $5 donation. There are no advance ticket sales for this performance—day-of walkups only.

Fresh for fall 2019, Portland Opera To Go’s poignant adaptation of La Bohème, Puccini’s classic story of love and loss in the Latin Quarter, concerns the fortunes of four young men whose lives are changed forever when one of them—Rodolfo—falls in love with the girl upstairs. With themes of love, friendship, facing adversity, and coming-of-age, the performance is a condensed version of the longer classic opera, designed to be enjoyed by all ages.

This is the fifth year the Portland Opera and the Walters have worked together to put forward affordable and educational opera programming for the community—with past shows reaching capacity at every performance since 2011 (200+). Be sure to arrive early to get your seat!

More information about this performance and the 2019-20 Walters Concert Series is available at

Celebrating Oregon through Art at the Walters Cultural Arts Center

Chance of Rain by Sandra Pearce

In concert with the kick-off to Hillsboro Arts Month, the vibrant I Love Oregon exhibit opens to the community at the Walters Cultural Arts Center (527 E. Main St., Hillsboro) on Tuesday, October 1, from 5 – 8 p.m. Guests of all ages will also have an opportunity to interact with featured artists and enjoy light refreshments provided with thanks to our supporting sponsor, Decadent Creations. The evening will also include hands-on art and craft projects, artist demonstrations, food trucks, and a full schedule of live performances as a part of ArtFest 2019.

Pollinator Frenzy by Donna Sires

I Love Oregon gathers together the talents of Donna Sires, Sandra Pearce, and Donna Clark in celebration of the majestic beauty of Oregon. Clark, a native Oregonian and Northwest landscape oil painter, captures “the light, texture, moods, and the stories of the lovely rich rural farming heritage that is so uniquely Oregon” in her vibrant plein air work. A native of England and an Oregon transplant, Pearce works in watercolor, seeking to transport viewers in a way that they feel a “part of that scene, enveloped by the heat of that day, or the cool of that dark passageway.” For Sires, a move to Canada in search of nature and green mountains wasn’t successful: “as soon as I crossed the state line into Oregon, I knew I had found my new home.” Her love for Oregon is evident in her tranquil and stunning works in pastel.


Awakening Morning by Donna Clark

The First Tuesday Art Walk is free, open to the public, and takes place on the first Tuesday of every month throughout Downtown Hillsboro from 5 – 8 p.m. Exhibitions at the Walters Cultural Arts Center are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Walters is located at 527 E. Main St. and is situated on the corner of Northeast Fifth Avenue and East Main Street in a one way grid in downtown Hillsboro. Parking can be accessed from either Fifth or Sixth Avenue, and the Walters is conveniently located just two blocks off the MAX Blue line. For more information call 503-615-3485 or visit


Study shows Oregon’s arts and culture industry generates $687 million in economic impact

Oregon’s arts and culture sector contributed $687 million and 22,299 jobs to Oregon’s economy in fiscal year 2015, according to the latest Arts & Economic Prosperity study from Americans for the Arts. Released June 17 at the group’s national conference in San Francisco, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 includes first-time data from rural Oregon.

“Arts and culture play a key role in healthy, prosperous communities, particularly in rural Oregon,” said Chris Harder, director of Business Oregon. “While this study highlights the significant impact of artists and cultural organizations on local economies, the resulting vibrant communities are places that are more attractive for overall business growth and investment.”

The data reveals that arts and culture jobs across Oregon generated $469.5 million in household income to local residents and delivered $53 million in local and state government revenue. In addition, the 9,911,552 people who attended arts and culture events spent an average of $42.59 per event, excluding the cost of the admission ticket. Event spending, which totaled $322,956,808, includes meals, parking, souvenirs, babysitting and hotel stays.

“This is the most comprehensive data we’ve ever had on how vital arts and culture are to Oregon’s statewide economic prosperity,” said Brian Rogers, Oregon Arts Commission executive director. “Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 is evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in the State of Oregon. It sends a strong signal that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in the State of Oregon’s economic well-being.”

While previous studies have focused only on Portland and Eugene, a statewide consortium led by the Arts Commission enabled Baker, Clatsop, Crook, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Yamhill counties as well as Ashland, Corvallis, Eugene and the Portland Metro area (Northeastern and Central Oregon did combined county studies) to participate.

Spending by arts and cultural organizations and audience members in the Portland Metro area was $330.4 million, up 30 percent since the last Arts & Economic Prosperity study in 2010. The spending outside of the Portland Metro area (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties) totaled $357 million.

“We are so grateful to the Arts Commission for making it possible for us to participate,” said Sharon Morgan, who was “stunned” to learn that arts and culture spending in Yamhill County totaled $45 million. Morgan, a member of the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, organized the survey for her county.

Click Here to read detailed reports for each of the Oregon regions and cities that participated on the Oregon Arts Commission website.

The Arts &Economic Prosperity 5 Study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and supported by the Ruth Lilly Fund of the Americans for the Arts. Local, regional and statewide partners, such as the Oregon Arts Commission and its 11 survey partners, contributed time and financial support to the study. Financial information from partner organizations was collected in partnership with DataArts. A full list of the 341 communities who participated in the study is posted on the Americans for the Arts website.