Veronica Compton still gets butterflies when she walks into an art supply shop, even after years of painting and drawing.

“I love art,” Compton said. “I’ve taken every art class you can imagine, from stained-glass making to cake-making to pottery, you name it. Anything creative, anything art.”

Compton, a Lockport native, has a degree in commercial art and design but for much of her working life she has been in administrative support. As luck would have it, in her most recent office job she was able to make use of her art degree.

“I didn’t make a living off of doing my artwork, but my latest position was at Linde Engineering. I was the department administrative assistant and I started an art program there where I taught classes during lunches on a monthly basis," she said. "I feel that in the middle of a stressed-out day, art therapy is – to me – a great stress reliever.”

Compton's program soon became an ERG (Employee-Resource-Group) and was funded by the company.

“People loved it and I love the idea of giving people a possible new hobby, or helping them relieve their stress, or just getting them into art," she said. "To know the joy of it, of creating something and being happy with what they made.”

After seven years at Linde Engineering, Compton's post was eliminated in May 2020, due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Crushed, Compton said she misses the job, but in a way, her layoff was meant to be.

“I’ve always been doing all my artwork, so I focused on that and spent a lot more time with my kids, and I thought to myself that I’m meant to do something else," she said. "It was a shock, but at the same time, I felt like, when it’s time to make the move and you don’t make the move, the universe steps in and creates a change that you needed to create a long time ago.”

“I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed my time working on my art and spending it with my kids,” she added.

These days Compton is teaching classes at the Lock Keeper Coffee House on East Avenue. She’d done an art show there previously and just happened to bump into the owner, Stacey Sonnelitter, while grocery shopping. They decided to do “Sip’n’Paint” classes.

“She’s so gracious and so open and accommodating,” Compton said of Sonnelitter. “We just advertised and people came out.”

Word-of-mouth and social media made the classes a hit, Compton said, and now she looks forward to exhibiting her “rust art” at the Lock Keeper as well. She has no doubt that art has helped her and it will help anyone.

“People think they’re not creative and they say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a creative bone in my body!’ They’re so wrong!," she said. "I love proving to them that they can do this. If it gives you something to do when you’re home and you’re lonely and you’re not doing that great, that’s a win to me.”

“Art is your friend. When there’s not anyone else around, you’ve got yourself and your own creativity. Pick up a brush, pick up a pen, pick up a crayon. Chalk. Anything. I swear you’ll feel better.”

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