Embracing the solitude while Creating Art at Home

Mar 25, 2020

There have been many times of uncertainty in human history. War, famine, plague and extraordinary acts of natural disaster are pinpoints in a vast human map of hardship and adversary.

In this time of the strangeness of social isolation due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) new ways of experiencing seclusion are suddenly upon us all. What we want and need to understand to keep our spirits and morale up is that separation does not always have to mean isolation. It can also mean connecting to the idea of solitude as a comforting balm for the creative soul that is alive in you.

There are many art commentators who have written about what makes an artist great. Surprisingly, artistic skill is not the top of the list. A sense of discipline which comes from embracing time alone is the number one requirement, in these writers’ opinion, for making art that the world needs to nourish our collective awareness of humanity, or in other words, our sense of compassion.

In a contemporary world where rushing from one thing to another is our primary target of a successful day, we are now forced by circumstances beyond our control to slow down. Time is now the gift we have been given. So, how will you use this offering of time to be creative at home?

The best artists are also creative thinkers because they give themselves time to think about the creative life as an entity – almost like a living creature if you like, that must be nurtured, encouraged to flourish and given all the attention that it needs to grow strong. The artist in you now has this time. Our ArtEyeDeer lessons not only embrace practical videos that you can view to stimulate your learning as an artist; the lesson content that accompanies the videos can be really valuable for your creative learning too. When you look through the content, you’ll find a heading called Responding.This is where we offer extensions to the lesson that are sometimes in the form of questions to be researched, explored and answered, and at other times, there are different practical creative options for exploring and extending the videoed lesson. These can take you in a parallel direction where more artistic decisions can be made by you. In our day-to-day lives where much of our time and attention is given to social interaction, we may not feel that we have time to “extend” our creative thinking beyond trying out the video lesson. Solitude now gives us this opportunity. So, if you have a favourite lesson, now is the time to go back to it, and using the Responding content as a guide, work out how you could extend this lesson into an area that is governed by your own artistic experimentation.

But how does all this new creativity find a way to blossom in a house that is suddenly full of people 24/7? How might you seek and find solitude to feed your creative spirit when everyone is competing for physical space and attention? This is where the “discipline” part comes in. Can you ask your family to agree on a timeframe that’s just for you and your creativity? If table space is at a premium, this might be a way for you to “reserve” this space for your creative endeavours. But your time might be limited, so plan ahead. Know which lesson you want to do, or which practical extension project you want to experiment with or explore. Use every bit of your time to stretch out your visual thinking – use this skill like a giant stretchy exercise rubber band that you’re pulling in a new direction. Your creative muscles will then get a really good workout.

You may have never done this next suggestion before but give it a go: the world’s greatest artists most often kept diaries that they attended to daily. The richness of these diary entries, especially from artists of the past, still fascinate artists of the present day because there is always something to be learnt from these diaries about the wonder of the creative process. If you begin a diary by jotting down your thoughts about the experimentation that you’re doing each day, or your thoughts on the work and lives of artists that we recommend in the Responding section, or your responses to questions we’ve posed, you are beginning to fertilise the cognitive brain soil that then nourishes and enriches both your imagination and your artistic visual thinking. If you are disciplined with this in the time that you give to writing your thoughts down, and you embrace the solitude required to do this, the weeks that we have ahead of us in our home environments will be more purposeful. Feel free to draw, doodle, paste in inspiration – anything that keeps your mind stimulated and curious. Growing our understanding of the way the world has embraced all the good stuff about art can only ever be a good thing!

So, what if you like a less ordered way of thinking, making and processing your artistic ideas? Do you embrace creative chaos? Are you a bit of an expressionist tornado when it comes to making art? When space is limited in a household where everyone is at home, how can you satisfy your messy urge to make art? This may make you laugh, but if you have a bath in your bathroom, try placing your paper surface in the bath and paint/collage/splatter – whatever you need to do. The mess is entirely contained, and the bath surface makes it easier to scrub clean when your inner Jackson Pollock has been satisfied. A laundry tub, if you have one works well too because the tub is deep. Essential clause to take note of though: this is a suggestion only. You must always ask a responsible adult first for permission to use a bath or laundry tub for the purposes stated above.

Running out of art materials? Think outside the square. No water-based paint left to make transparent washes? Use food colouring if you have it. If you google “How to make homemade watercolour paints for kids” you’ll find recipes that use all kinds of household alternatives – vegetables, corn-starch, baking soda, vinegar, and a host of other products. Old muffin tins can be used as watercolour pans to store these alternative dry watercolours in. there are also short instructional YouTube videos that explore all kinds of household alternatives for wet and dry media. Even just making new art media is an artistic adventure that stretches your creative rubber band. Got old nail polish, lipstick, eyeshadow hanging around in a bathroom drawer? Experiment! That’s what this time of solitude in your home gives you – time to invent and be inventive. Above all, hold onto the fun. Keep an open mind to keep your creative learning active and flourishing.

Wendy Muir

Art Eye Deer Teacher