Ways to keep doing art in lockdown


Lockdown has changed so much about life, not to mention what to draw. I used to sketch trees from nearby woods, but now I’m grateful for the small tree in our small garden. I drew it for the first time this week. That’s my cat Wolf clambering in it.

For the foreseeable future, creatives worldwide will have to turn their homes, gardens and window views into a mini universe of inspiration. Though daunting for many, lockdown can boost creativity – creativity that in return can boost us. Striking life events such as this can enhance your understanding of the world, of other people and of yourself.

Here are my ideas on how artists can stay inspired in confined spaces, looking at limited surroundings with fresh eyes.

  • Draw a broad picture. A whole room or garden.
  • Zoom in. In another picture draw medium-sized details like a tree or bicycle in the garden, or a chair, window or piano indoors.
  • Zoom in again. Draw small objects like a leaf, twig or flower. Or indoors, a salt cellar, pot plant or a pile of books.
  • Zoom in again! Hold a leaf up to the light and draw its illuminated veins, or sketch the grains of wood in a table. Possibilities are endless!
  • Look at everything with a creative eye. You may well find INNUMERABLE subjects at home – each approachable from different angles and in different mediums.
  • If you are home-schooling, aim low and try small sketches in free moments. Accept that art time will be bite-sized or on hold at times. My partner is ambulance crew so I am largely ‘homeschooling’ alone. (I use that term loosely. My son is watching Jurassic World right now.)
  • Who lived in your home a hundred years ago? Imagine who they were and draw/paint them.
  • Draw subjects that move – cohabitants, pets, insects or passing birds. Practice sketching them quickly before they move.
  • What’s outside the window during the day? And later on in the day? And at night?
  • What about a different window? (Bathroom window? Landing window?)
  • Depict the sky. It is a landscape that changes ENDLESSLY.
  • Move your chair to a different position in a room and draw from a fresh perspective. Moving your chair is one of the great mindfulness exercises in the book Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, which I have mentioned before!
  • Shake up your habits. Collage if you usually paint. Paint if you usually draw.
  • Get resourceful with what materials you have. Try biro sketches if you don’t usually. Draw on old scraps of material or on a designated strip of wall that looks like it needs some life – as long as cohabitants agree! Trace with baking paper.
  • Put on the radio to keep you company/inspire you. Online site Radio Garden lets you click on any green dot on the globe and listen to local radio stations anywhere. (A useful tip I just found in Charlie Connelly’s book about radio, Last Train to Hilversum,)
  • Do a self-portrait… if you’re in a good mood and not feeling too introspective!
  • Draw from books or magazines you find around the home.
  • Connect with other artists online. The world is in the same boat right now.
  • Join an online art club.
  • Get inspiration from virtual art tours and concerts.
  • Seek out a masterclass. In lockdown there are tonnes of free classes flying around the internet.
  • Get imagining. If your surroundings are boring you beyond belief, draw an imaginary home or landscape on the other side of the world. Paint outer space.
  • Stay fit and healthy at home to keep the art fit and healthy too. One Frenchman ran a marathon on his balcony. If that’s not your cup of tea, Joe Wicks the Body Coach is here to help! There are tonnes of other fitness classes available online via Zoom. Eat well. 🙂
  • Draw something funny – like a cartoon – if you very likely need cheering up.
  • Still can’t create? Maybe it’s time to take a break from the daily frenzy, like much of the planet is doing!







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