By Taylor Yingshi Wang
4 min read
Art has existed since mankind knew how to pick up sticks. In fact, recent evidence suggests that those first humans etched carvings into cave walls to psychologically prepare themselves for the arduous hunting journeys ahead. In more modern times, artist Adrian Hill coined the term ‘art therapy’ in 1942 as he realized the cathartic effects of painting while recovering from tuberculosis.
And now, amidst a global pandemic, social distancing has made us more isolated than ever. If you’re cooped up at home right now (as you should be!), you’ve probably experienced feelings of unproductivity, boredom, and loneliness. For those who suffer from mental illness, these emotions are heightened. If you feel this way, you’re not alone—having a daily routine thrown out the window is chaotic and stress-inducing for many of us. And while you can’t control the situation, you can have a say in how you cope with it. Using art as a creative outlet is a proven way to decompress, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.
Here are 5 ways you can brighten your quarantine days with productive, revitalizing art activities.
1. Follow a 30-day art challenge.
These are all the rage on Instagram and Pinterest—a quick Google search will land you with dozens of creative challenges you can follow along with every day. This not only helps maintain a sense of routine, but the broad daily prompts let you set your own pace for how much you want to do. If you would like a super relevant challenge set, here are some quarantine-related ones. Student Art Spaces is also hosting an open call for art and writing surrounding COVID-19.
2. Experiment with fashion.
Got that old shirt you’ve been meaning to donate? Bring out the needle and thread, and give it a second life! A sewing machine is not required, and stitching by hand can be a surprisingly rewarding experience. No experience necessary either—there’s an abundance of thrift transformation tutorials online to give you inspiration for your new garment. So, channel your inner Heidi Klum and create something you can show off later!
3. Join an online painting community!
Many art studios are now offering free or very discounted online art classes through Zoom or another videochatting platform. Seattle Artist League has a deal for $5 ‘quickies’ to connect with other artists seeking a place to chat and learn about art during these uncertain times. Connect with your local art school/studio and see what kinds of opportunities they have for digital creation!
4. If you’re not the visual type, take up calligraphy or bujo.
Journaling is an aesthetically pleasing and productive way to document your day. Even if you didn’t do much, you can still write down your thoughts and spend some time creating a stylized page with some calligraphy or bujo skills. Now that life has been put on pause, there’s finally time for you to become the owner of one of those fancy planners covered in lettering and multicolored pens.
5. Start an Instagram documenting your art progress.
That’s right! Now that you have all this free time to hone in on your creative side, why not share your progress with the rest of the art community? It’s as simple as starting an Instagram for your art. Don’t feel pressured by likes and followers, just let yourself get inspired by other artists sharing their work and continue improving your own craft.
Being stuck in one place all day can be tiring and unfulfilling for many people. These are just some ways you can use art to empower yourself through these tough times, even if it’s something as small as a doodle every day. As always, remember to wash your hands often, and stay creative!
Taylor Wang is a high schooler, artist, and activist in Seattle. She hopes to use her art as a vessel to express the fear and uncertainty of growing up as part of an interconnected, socially conscious generation. When she is not in the studio, Wang runs Student Art Spaces, a global youth-led nonprofit amplifying the voices of young artists in professional spaces. She hopes her role as an art activist can help define the next generation of diverse, representative artists. Find her art on instagram.com/yingshiart. Website: tayloryingshi.wixsite.com/arts – Facebook: tayloryingshi – Twitter: tayloryingshi