This Tuesday will mark three weeks of isolation.
For me, this year was transitional as I began an online business and scheduled workshops. Just three weeks ago, I was packing new art supplies to teach a painting workshop. As I watched the news and received a caution letter from UCR regarding cancellation of Desert Institute classes, I began to understand….
With isolation, we are experiencing classic phases of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They do not necessarily follow a single order, and we haven’t been grieving very long.
In this health crisis, my goal is to encourage others - and myself. I remain pragmatic.
As I wrote recently in my last blog: Mind, body, spirit and soul are connected. Every aspect affects our creative life. For me, reading my bible, poetry, inspirational travel journals, watching short creative video clips of friends watercoloring, walking and gardening has kept me grounded. Spirit connects us with God, and our soul is where we express our passions. (janiscommentz.com)
Acronyms help me to discover new ideas. Mine reminds me of how to encourage.
What am I doing? I keep a schedule and start the day with positive reading or movement. I have never cooked or cleaned my kitchen so often. I’m eating better than usual.
I am making art about what I want - not what sells or what others think I should paint. I love the desert, but my heart is drawn to the Impressionists. I am painting and sketching purely for my own taste.
As I paint, I listen to upbeat music or uplifting movies. I set a timer for 20 minutes to limit listening to news. I keep in touch with good friends but have cut back on social media. I have participated in Zoom groups, and that is a revelation. Our lives will be forever changed in some ways.
I have tried filming myself painting and even made a little screen test (by myself) to perhaps share on virtual workshops. We do not know how long we will be isolated, and I like to plan ahead. Currently the virtual world is filled with art - online classes, free virtual museum tours, and images.
On another note, part of me enjoys the more leisurely pace. All of us were on a mad go-go-go trajectory. My creative juices do not turn on and off like a faucet. The grief process affects them. At first, my denial kept me packing for workshops, thinking we could just meet as a small group. When I heard the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament had been canceled, I knew it was enormous. We have all experienced anger during this time.
Surrounding myself with beauty and quiet helps. I urge artists to gather the tools they enjoy—brushes, pencils, paints –materials many have been hoarding for years. Create order. Many of us have created photo libraries to paint from, and, here in the desert, we still can take peaceful walks. I don’t remember looking out my back window so often- and almost every time, I see a bird, bunny, coyote, squirrel, hiker or off roader. I have a wealth of visual inspiration.
I am not pressuring myself into making art. We need to be gentle with ourselves at this time. Some of us have aging parents or others who still are dependent on us. Finances are worrisome. Just figuring out to shop for food is a challenge. Keeping up appearances is a bit harder-with non-essential services, such as routine dental appointments, stopped.
I think a lot about the lives of my ancestors and how they existed in a quiet world.
My advice to artists - and I said I would move to the 2nd word in my acronym, nurture. Nurture creativity in yourself and others:
Look for beauty in everyday objects and nature.
Write in a journal - your observations and your reactions.
Organize and sort your supplies.
Study a new subject: I’m studying French with a free ap.
Rekindle an old hobby.
When you get a creative idea - go with it!
Do not fear opinions of others or your own inner critic.
The paintings I’m working on are all to suit me, all not quite finished, but my inner critic is a little more forgiving these days.
Note: The last 15 months have challenged us! This month I encourage you to learn from the isolation and I wish you a cautious, but joyous June reopening!
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