Video by Sandi Moynihan

BAGRAM, Afghanistan – Before 2016, the last time Army Sgt. Derek Peterson picked up a paint brush was in high school – which, he admits, was quite a few years ago.

“I would like to be [considered an artist],” Peterson said. “But I hadn’t done any real art since [then].”

So, when Peterson heard about the USO Southwest Asia’s two new art programs – Paint and Sip and Art on Tap – during a recent deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan, he knew it was the perfect opportunity to get back to his creative roots.

“It’s something different and it lets more of the creative side out of people,” Peterson said.

During each monthly session, both the Paint and Sip and Art on Tap programs focus on a different aspect of painting or multimedia art, respectively. So far, during his current deployment to Kandahar, and now Bagram, Peterson has experimented with watercolor, acrylic, modeling clay, glass ornaments and much more.

More importantly, the two monthly programs have provided him with a creative outlet to pass the time.

“30 minutes, an hour, two hours of just creative enjoyment as opposed to what’s going on outside,” Army Sgt. Derek Peterson said. “This is kind of that opportunity to break free from reality.”

You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect: Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.