Art Can Help Us Through Times of Loneliness
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
Like many of you, I’m feeling some anxiety in this time of uncertainty. When I lay down to go to sleep at night, there are a host of thoughts and anxious questions that start reeling through my mind. These questions need to get set aside so that I can give my body rest. Last night though, as my community enters a 2 week period of “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of Corona Virus, I felt so grateful that I have my art to help me through this time, but I wanted to identify a way to help you use your art to help yourself feel better too.
I want you to offer you art tools to weather this time of social distancing, but also to embrace the opportunity it offers us to dive more deeply into beauty, mystery, and nature. I’m not saying that art is a cure all, but it helps. And anything we can do to help ourselves feel better is important. This time is hard. I know from years of experience with my own art and with students and clients that even when things are terribly dark, art has a powerful ability to bring light, hope, and meaning to our lives.
How do you invite more art into your life right now?
Learn to See Like an Artist
If you can do so, get outside, even in your own backyard. Be on the lookout for beautiful colors, shapes, patterns. Pretend you’ve just landed from outer space – look at what you see with new eyes – as though you’ve never seen it before. Bring your phone and take photos of the little surprises you find. Perhaps collect beautiful fallen pods, leaves, or branches, and then draw them too.
Draw Mundane Things
Even the most “mundane,” “boring,” objects have life and spirit when you draw them in your own imperfect, wonky way. Think about drawing something that you interact with daily – the coffee maker, your daughter’s sneakers, the medicines in the cabinet. There is beauty and calm to be had in slowing down to see anew and draw the objects that surround us daily.
Get My Free Class: the Guide to Creative Self- Care:
Just Make Marks
This is a practice that for folks unfamiliar with the act of “mark making” can feel silly or purposeless at first. However, the act of making marks on a page or canvas, with whatever tool you have at your disposal, can be a mindfulness practice, a catharsis, a way of expressing feelings, and a way to find your voice as an artist. I’ve found it massively inspiring to look at artists who do this in inspiring ways. I have my own style of mark making, which you can see throughout my work.
I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to super inspiring mark making pieces. I think once you develop a taste for the aesthetic of mark making, you can begin to just relax and practice it.
Accept the Gift of Time – Drop into the Moment
Perhaps like me, you suddenly have a child at home that you need to educate, or perhaps you have found yourself with more time on your hands than usual, I’d invite you to use some chunks of time to allow yourself to arrive in the moment through art.
Whether you are exploring what kinds of marks your pencil can make for 10 minutes, taking photos of milkweed pods, or drawing the dirty dishes, notice what it feels like physically. What does the pen feel like in your hand? Is it hard? Smooth? Cold? What about the paper?
What “random” ideas or song lyrics pop to mind as you are photographing, mark making, or drawing? Art invites us to arrive in this moment and to dwell there. When we have permission to experience and be present in each gesture, color, and mark that appears before us with attention and curiosity, art becomes an adventure. As one student said at our retreat yesterday, “The world melts away.”
Here’s a List of 10 Ways to Make Relaxing Art in 10 Minutes
- Let go of the expectation of making “art,” and give yourself permission to use art materials as a way to be present and enjoy the act of making marks, colors, and lines appear.
- Draw the most boring thing in your house – the dishes, a tape dispenser, your coat. Let it be wonky, imperfect, and get curious (not judgmental) as the lines appear.
- Gather mark making appreciation from this Pinterest board on mark making for 5 minutes. (Set a timer so you don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole.)
- Explore making marks. Use black paint and a stick, a pencil, or a black marker and see all the different types of marks it can make. Set a timer for 5 minutes initially, and if you wish you can extend.
- Go on a nature walk and photograph beautiful details in nature.
I hope that some of these ideas help you to find some playful moments. Whether you see yourself as an artist or not, these materials and techniques offer themselves to us as a way to be playfully present, and find some beauty in this moment.
P.S. If you are looking for an opportunity to create in a community, I’ve got a LIVE ONLINE (good for social distancing times) masterclass coming up on Friday April 17th at 5pm EST.
You can attend online live or watch the replay. These are wonderful opportunities to paint together, learn some new skills, and fill the well. It’s live so you can ask questions and interact in real time, as well as keeping the replay forever. To help make this experience accessible to you when you most need it, I’m offering some special discounts.
If you register by next Friday, March 20th, you can save 25% with code TOGETHER25. If you register by March 27th, you can use code TOGETHER20 to save 20%, and if you register by April 3rd, you can use code TOGETHER15. After that the pricing goes back to the full price of $99.
Thanks for the inspiration Amy! We need to get to the basics right now.
That’s such a great way to put it, Julie, and I’ve been thinking about this since I read your comment. xo
This is such a thoughtful and helpful piece. Thank you. I just bought the Fluid Art class and am expecting the supplies I really need to arrive tomorrow (!) so I anticipate spending some of my new “free” time cutting out circles, making little books, and blowing paint around!
Hi Judy: Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. It means so much to me. I’m stoked for you to get started on Fluid Art! You’ll be making such amazing work! xo
Amy, thank you so much for this! Despite the current state of things right now, I am going in for surgery on Monday! I am planning to take a few of my less messy art supplies with me so that I can keep my mind busy. Literally, this email message could not have come at a better time!! All the best to you, hopefully you and your family are avoiding the “crazy” that is happening!!
All the best on your surgery this week. I know from experience how much of a solace it can be to have art supplies at hand. Happy creating and healing! xo
#1 is the reminder I needed! Thank you Amy!
Hey Darlene: I’m so happy this spoke to you. I need this reminder too! xo
Draw the most boring things in your house…made me smile Thanx
Hi Janey – It’s actually a really beautiful experience – you’ll be surprised! xo
Thanks Amy for this post. I’ll be using your prompts with my girls who are home this week. 🙏🏽
YAY – so happy I could help, Shaz!
Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement! I am especially inspired to go outside and look for shapes and patterns because there is a special beauty in the odd way things look this time of year. I also like the idea of drawing something boring and think I will try the non-dominant hand approach.
HI Gerry! I LOVE the beauty of winter – last season’s leaves, the bare branches, the dried grasses – it’s a different kind of beauty, I agree. And i love the non-dominant hand approach. The first time I tried it, it blew my mind what I could do. xo
Buenos días, Amy!!! Actualmente me encuentro de baja laboral, recuperándome de lo que se supone que es una infección por este bicho que nos invade. Las largas horas en casa se están llenando de color con tus ideas y en mi libreta dejo libre aquella necesidad de ser imperfecta, de pintar por el placer de pintar, con marcas, con formas, sin nada en concreto en la mente. Gracias por estar ahí y ser una fuente de inspiración para mí. Cada vez tengo más ganas de dedicarme a tiempo completo a lo que en realidad me apasiona ,que es pintar y dibujar.
Deseo que estéis muy bien de salud.
Un besico, desde Albacete.
Hola Maria Elena Siento mucho que no te sientes bien, pero me alegro un monton que tienes a tu arte y que te puedo ayudar a motivar y a inspirarte. Un abrazo fuerte!
This is lovely. Thank you.
Aw, Anna. I’m so happy that this piece reached you. Big, painty hugs, Amy
Creating art is therapeutic and these prompts always help 🙂 I love your blog and just followed you on Pinterest!
I’m so happy I could help! Happy creating! xo