A funny trend started as soon as businesses started closing due to COVID-19. All of a sudden, my social media feed seemed inundated with photos, comments and videos of individuals looking to make a perfect loaf of bread. To be clear, this wasn’t just my baker and foodie friends- the contacts that always ordered takeout, or never ate at home were suddenly finding themselves engrossed in the bread-baking process. And loving it.
I also noticed other creative endeavours. From my porch, I noticed people on walks with the cameras looking to capture a perfect shot, or muttering loudly about the “rule of threes.” Countless videos have been uploaded of individuals who are learning a song a day as they teach themselves guitar or piano. Online lessons have appeared on every platform possible. And when we aren’t creating, we’re watching the creation of others- whether it’s streaming Netflix or an Instagram Live performance.
Given the uncertainty that seems to be around us right now, it’s no wonder that people are increasingly turning to art and finding themselves as creators, rather than consumers. Art and music therapy are widely recognized as accepted mental health treatments. Creating art has been used to relieve stress and relax the mind and body- something we’re all looking for right now. One of the greatest benefits of art therapy has been in providing a healthy emotional outlet for expressing and letting go of feelings and fears. Complex emotions (such as anger, anxiety or sadness) cannot always be expressed with words- however, the creation of art does not depend on a verbal release as much as an emotional one. Art also boosts our sense of self-esteem and sense of accomplishment- something that may be particularly needed if we feel unproductive or aimless.
The creation of art also gives us a sense of control that many feel is needed right now. In a world where all we can do is watch the brokenness and despair around us, it’s okay to want to heal the wounds of the world in whatever way we can. And right now, the world needs some healing. Best of all, we don’t have to create a large scale project to be a significant contribution.
But where do we start?
If my social media feed is any indication, this is the time to explore. This is the time to take a (creative) chance and try something that may feel different or be extraordinary. Here’s three thoughts to get you started:
Give yourself permission to be creative. I recall as a teenager thinking that I could never be as “arty” as the friends who brought sketchbooks with them everywhere. But when I was gifted one and allowed to do as I liked with it, my entire perspective changed- even if I never did much actual drawing in it. This is the time to recognize that both you and your favourite artist of any discipline are likely both sitting at home with limited options in front of you- it’s up to you how to utilize that time.
Find time in the day to create. And do so unapologetically. Time is one of the most important values we have, and whether we’re busy or not right now, it’s likely that you can find twenty minutes in your day for the purpose of being creative. So set a timer, and gift this opportunity to yourself. Twenty minutes a day can add up quickly; at the very least, it’s enough to start building a habit and will force you to prioritize creativity in your day. And like any gift, recognize it, thank it, and don’t apologize for what you are giving the world- and yourself- through this time and your creativity.
Don’t be tied into one type of art. If you’re a theatre performer, perhaps this is the time to try your hand at costume design or photography. If you’re a visual artist, this might be the time to explore a new media or try your feet at an online dance class. Perhaps you want to try your hand at the culinary arts, circus arts, fashion, makeup or something that would typically be considered “outside of your wheelhouse.” This is the time to push the boundaries of your creativity as much or as little as you are willing.
Reward yourself. Creating can be difficult- and that can be a really good thing- but it also deserves a reward, particularly if you have the added pressure of time. Additionally, we deserve to be as comfortable as we can right now- so whatever serves as a motivator to you in this time of physical isolation, use it.
There is an inherent challenge in being an artist. In being vulnerable and collaborating with your emotions and those around you (in whatever form that may take) to elicit a response. And yet, in this time of isolation and forced changes of habits, individuals are rising to the challenge and demonstrating their capabilities and passion through art. The world needs more artists and reminders- particularly now- that creativity is an answer and a powerful force. If there is one thing that is maintained whenever we return to “normal” life, I hope that this continuation of creativity and creation is it.
So what are you creating today?