✅A good Internet connection
✅The safety of loved ones
These are the things we all put on our pandemic survival list, hopefully not in that order, but it’s hard to tell with current behaviour… Anyway, if we were to keep on adding to that list, it's likely that 'time for art' would come pretty close to the bottom.
It's not going to cure you, stave off starvation or sterilise a mile radius around you, but it will keep you going. Once the adrenaline of fear has worn off, and your initial boredom returns following a valiant effort of film-binging, games and reading, creativity will be the gift that keeps on giving.
Music and writing are great examples of creativity, but one requires very specific conditions, whilst the other is limited by one’s comfort around language – which you've got plenty of time to work on now!
But art – as in the face-painting, pencil and pen, potato and paint kind of art – doesn't require any background skill or talent, and isn't limited to any specific equipment or materials. It is unassuming and available to anyone with the time and impetus to try things for the sake of it.
At its heart, it's a combination of experiment and expression. It's also playing, which sadly often devalues the experience for anyone trying to squeeze worth out of their own time.
We don't seem to have a problem with playing God in games, trying out fantasies through film or even devoting whole corners of our lives to sport, so why does art get such a bad rap?
It doesn't help that it's not seen as especially tough. No hero has ever slain a monster by painting a lovely watercolour of it. A more universal obstacle is its chaos. There are no rules, so where do you start?
The answer is whatever draws your attention. For starters, you have to work with what you've got. It's no good deciding to become a painter if you don't have any paint-brushes… Except it is!
You don't need a brush, you can use your hands, or a spoon, or you can make your brush by splitting the end of a twig with a blunt rock. You're limited only by your creativity. Similarly, paint doesn't need to come out of a pot, it can be anything with some colour in it smooshed together with a little water or oil.
Many of us have recently been presented a free license to play around with what keeps us sane!
If you need rules, that's okay. You can make them up yourself. Think of it like this… Everybody doodles at school. No matter how dedicated you are, one lesson is bound to be boring. That's not laziness, it's human. How is this any different?
Engaging with art has been shown time and again to improve mental health and well-being, reducing feelings of pain and stress and improving self-confidence across a range of ages.
You don't have to be a mad loner scribbling in a well lit attic, art can be social if you're that way inclined. In any case, being social with art generally means making things in the same space, but everyone is likely to be just as lost in their own work, so it’s more that you can be a loner among friends! You can very easily simulate the same feeling through having a good internet connection and a group video call.
Here's just a few ideas for isolation art projects to get your teeth into:
Paint your ideal holiday destination
Draw the view from your window
Sketch a still life of something you find annoyingly useless
Weave macrame out of string for hanging greenery around the house
Make a cave painting with some old roof slates
Make a mud monster
Start a cartoon diary of life in quarantine