by Barry Dougherty
And what have you been doing these past few weeks as an artist in quarantine? Finally, cleaning out the attic? Finding new and inventive ways to keep it together during isolation has become our new normal. But quarantine for artists offers an opportunity to broaden their already boundless scope of creativity.
Artist in quarantine working
While many artists tend to work in isolation by trade, being forced to do so could add unnecessary stress that can inhibit their creative flow. Ironically, artists now more than ever, are called upon to share their talents on a global scale.
They are part of the creative team that the world now needs to look toward more than ever to help fill the void that’s opened because people can’t get out and about the way they’re used to. Citizens in every country are thirsty for diversions–and artists, along with their works, can help quench it.
Because the pressure is on (in spite of you possibly not realizing that) it’s important that artists maintain their wits about them during their own isolation. Just so you don’t feel trapped we’d like to offer our quarantine tips to help keep you motivated within your world of isolation:
1. Find inspiration outside
You can safe-distance yourself into quiet reflection by walking in a park, along a river or lake, a quiet street–any destination that finds you safely apart from others. Become inspired by the outdoors. The change in scenery can clear a few cobwebs that may have crept into your head while inside. You may even consider a little plein air painting while you’re out there. Don’t let isolation rob you of the opportunity to experience nature and landscapes that can be found just outside your front door. Think what would be lost if Monet never ventured outside.
2. Try new techniques
Use this opportunity to mix up your mediums. Take a leap and discover new and different ways to create your art. This is the time to dip your brush into those watercolors you’ve been thinking about exploring or find ways to add texture to your images. Let a jigsaw puzzle inspire you to create a mosaic image. If you can’t get to your studio housing the giant canvases you normally work on, take this time to create pieces on a smaller scale or perhaps experiment with digital art or photography. You’d be surprised how your personal artistic signature still shines through multiple mediums.
3. Paint your isolation story
Artist Jodi DeCrenza in her studio
Artists have been recording history since the dawn of time. Natural disasters, religious uprisings, and yes, even the medieval Black Death that returned periodically for centuries, have been documented through images both macabre as well as serene. Edvard Munch painted “Self-Portrait After Spanish Influenza” having survived it in 1919. Consider sharing your own impressions of how the coronavirus outbreak has impacted your personal sphere. Living in isolation through a modern-day pandemic should certainly elicit varying emotions to chronicle on a canvas.
4. Engage with fellow Artists
While artists may work well in isolation, they still enjoy engaging with their peers. Reach out to other artists, gather a few together and Zoom with them. Follow them on social media, commenting on posts and perhaps inviting them for a private message dialogue. It will help keep you informed and up to speed on how others in the art world are faring through all of this. Connecting with artists can be quite inspiring.
5. Teach if you can
Now could be a good time to reach out beyond the confines of your home and influence a new generation of artists. Utilizing various social media platforms and by “going live” you can share your knowledge and teach budding artists the skills they need to enter the art fray. You may even become a YouTube star, garnering an audience interested in learning the skills needed to start their own career.
6. Enter art competitions
Artists have a passion for what they do. They also enjoy sharing the fruits of that passion with others and having it showcased through exhibitions and gallery installations. For many artists, it’s important to get reactions from those observing their work and at times even critiquing it. Take this opportunity to get your art out there while sequestered at home–enter an art competition.
Agora Gallery, for example, is sponsoring Inspiration from Isolation, a free contest that gives artists an opportunity to still be in the game, so to speak. Their work will be on display via social media platforms and the top submissions will receive weekly awards with a grand prize given to the top artist among the group. For more than thirty-five years, Agora Gallery has been driven by the goal of creating opportunities for emerging artists, allowing them to exhibit their work in the gallery and participate in various competitions. It is with that same spirit that Agora sponsors this exciting new digital competition that will feature daily and weekly awards and a grand prize – an annual digital representation.
Getting through isolation is all about the diversion. You may happen to be sequestered behind four walls, but don’t put your talent in solitary confinement. If you’ve always had a work routine when you paint or sculpt or draw, then stick to it. But when the downtime arrives, don’t let that be the time to turn off your creative engine. Start it up again and use this moment in history to be more unpredictable. Stretch your creativity beyond the canvas and broaden the scope of your vision. Take to heart what Van Gogh once wrote, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” You are artists, you’re already ahead of the game in creativity, imagination, passion, and inspiration–you got this!