Few things symbolize a new art project as clearly as a blank canvas.

But the closure of businesses, including art and craft studios, has forced some artists to use unusual surfaces for their next masterpiece.

Joanne Robert, who owns Cup of Paint on Wyoming Avenue in Exeter, has recorded several live instructional videos on Facebook — facebook.com/cupofpaint — in the past month, urging viewers to think outside the box.

“I’ve said if you have shirt boxes laying around — you know, the boxes you get gifts in at Christmas — you could use the inside of that box as a painting surface,” Robert said. “You could use a posterboard, a piece of cardboard or an old canvas that has something on it and you might want to paint over. I try to make it so you can do it without going to the store and buying stuff.”

While Robert’s income stream has dried up due to stay-at-home orders brought on more than a month ago by the coronavirus pandemic, the Art Party Place is benefiting from anticipatory measures it had taken weeks ago.

Owner Lauren Smith and her staff responded to the looming threat of COVID-19 by preparing to go online-only before the brick-and-mortar studio in Wilkes-Barre temporarily closed.

“We got all our products online, so people can purchase them through our online store,” Smith said. “We took pictures of over 200 different ceramics and then we picked a select few canvases, as well, that people can purchase online. We’ve put together paint kits, so they can go to our site, pick out any ceramics that they want, purchase paint, purchase brushes, purchase canvases that are pre-sketched and we can deliver it to them. … It’s a lot of work, but it’s just something that we have to do to get by.”

Smith said she soon hopes to join the wave of posting basic instructional videos, perhaps starting with how to paint backgrounds, a tree or a flower.

“I always tell people there’s no right or wrong way to do art,” Smith said. “It’s all in the beholder of the brush.”

No matter the obstacles, Robert and Smith agreed that art creation is an invaluable tool during distressing times like these.

“For me, I find when I create something, it calms me down,” Robert said. “I can be nervous about this whole situation and what’s going on in the world — if I am able to focus on (art), it takes my mind off of everything else. It always centers me, it always brings me back to where I know I should be.”