I know that as an artist that ordinarily enjoys delivering workshops, demonstrating to art groups, and painting plein air with friends, it could have had the potential to clip my wings and stop play until more favourable conditions allow and I have been forced to find inspiration closer to home.
Covid-19 has also well and truly forced me to focus on the back office side of being a professional artist. Admin, accounts, you know, all the boring bits!
But it has made me more determined to make it work. I can happily say that I have come through lockdown thus far having no qualms about describing my occupation as an artist without feeling like a fraud. (Weird how so many of us don't have the confidence to say what we do from the time we get up to the time we go to bed because we fear the judgement of others).
I have discovered that there are people that 'get' what I do and are happy to pay me to do it. There are also others who don't 'get' what I do, or necessarily like how I do it, but that does not mean that I am going to change to fit their ideal. I am determined to be authentic and use my language to describe what I see and not pretend to be something I am not.
I know this is not the experience that everyone has had and I have close friends that have, and are, still struggling. Lack of motivation, direction, inspiration and absorption of the negativity that blasts from every radio station, news broadcast and the press, it is no wonder that cases of mental health problems have escalated!
This recent 'poll' in the Sunday Times proves how people perceive us artists and I know a few that had something to say about it but all it says to me is that people are blind to the benefits to society that art has. 'Fine' Art as I will refer to it for the purpose of definition, is a therapy like no other. It has helped many, some of which have never picked up a pencil or a brush, through periods of physical or mental pain and allowed some become successful artists in their own right.
It gives people a language in which they can express their fears, hopes, experiences, dreams, nightmares without prejudice. It gives the confidence and courage to tackle tasks that were previously considered impossible. It inspires others to speak up against atrocities without physical violence and holds a mirror up to the world reflecting back the artists views and experiences for us to appraise. It lifts peoples mood and brings joy to the beholder! (This is the kind of art I try to make).
We must learn to appreciate the skills that make our world a better place to live in - and coming out of this pandemic a positively joyful place to be! Whether that is your own home, your place of work, the world around 'you'. Look at the way a shop front is decorated as you drive past on your way to work, the music you listen to on the bus, the bank notes that are in your wallet, the clothes you are wearing or the car you are driving. This was all created by someone with an art education and/or the encouragement to use the freedom of expressive language.
Personally I find that playing in my sketchbook has helped me 'download' stress and negativity and also work through ideas that then become studio work. One of the exercises I recently completed was really good fun. Why don't you have a go - the skill level for this exercise is ZERO and it is brilliant for taking your mind off 'stuff' - even the kids can join in!
Take a sheet of paper (or a page in your sketchbook) and apply a grid of masking tape - it doesn't have to be even squares. I used acrylic paint but you can use any medium as long as you don't think too much about how you apply it. Pick four things to make marks with - if you have a paintbrush use that to stipple, drag, use on its side, the end of the handle etc - get creative with the ways that you can use the tools that you choose. You could use a fork, a palette knife, whatever! you get the idea.
Pick 4-5 colours of your chosen medium and start making marks from one side of your paper to the other. You could drag your brush in a curved line, or your fork to make interesting marks. Keep changing colour and mark making tool until you have covered your paper. You can start to work within each masked off section if you wish. Carefully peel off the masking tape and voila! you have created some mini abstract masterpieces!
It is the process of creating these little pieces of creative joy that I love. And by the time you have finished you will have 'created' your cares away and forgotten about the bad stuff you were thinking about before you had a go! Let me know if you have a go and feel free to share your images to my facebook page! Let's make this place a nicer place to be!