printed circle embellished with coloured dots on old book page

Being Creative in Lockdown

When we were all told to Stay At Home, did you think how great it would be to try all those art and craft ideas that you’ve never had time to do?

How many have you done? I don’t know about you, but I’ve sat down a couple of times and … nothing happened. I don’t know if it was because I was lacking the stimulus of seeing friends and visiting places or because my mind was overwhelmed with news stories and the feeling of powerlessness.

What I needed was something quick and easy to do every day; a repetitive exercise, to build a rhythm of getting something (anything) onto paper without thinking too hard about it. Interestingly, it has become an exercise in doing something creative and also taking a few minutes away from everything that’s going on at the moment.

THREE QUICK WAYS TO BE A LITTLE BIT CREATIVE

Here are the three activities that could help you if you’re looking for a creative way to get yourself moving with some art and craft projects or maybe to retreat for a short time each day to make sense of life. Modify them to make them your own and stick with the one that suits you best.

MAKE A TINY DRAWING EVERY DAY

Page of tiny drawings with coloured pencils

Each day, draw a small square (about 3-4cm) and fill it in. Treat each square as an individual drawing or as a jigsaw piece to gradually fill the page with a large pattern or image.

Not something you have to think about too much. Just grab a pen or pencil and let it flow. You could treat it as a diary (if you have anything exciting enough to draw!), to record your view from the window or your lunch. Or just the first thing that comes into your head.

WORDS & PICTURES

Notebook filled with words and pictures

Divide the page into two columns (or use facing pages of a small notebook), one for words and one for pictures. Write down thoughts, feelings, fears, plans, quotes, rants, shopping list or whatever comes into your mind in one column. In the other column doodle, sketch, stick in your favourite photos or simply make marks.

Use it as a planner or a resource to store information if that suits you. Or maybe it will be more valuable to you as a place to dump your worries or articulate your feelings. These pages could galvanise you into action or they might be a calming place.

OLD BOOKS

beetroot picture on old book page

Modify the pages of an old book. Use the book intact or take out a page each day. Paint, print or collage onto the page, make intricate paper cuts or origami models, turn the pages into cards and envelopes to send to friends and family, whatever takes your fancy. This can be a very freeing exercise when there’s no worry about wasting paper.

Tips

Set time aside for this activity each day, even if it’s only five minutes. Clear a space to work in, turn off your screens and mute your phone. Take time to be quiet and still before you begin.

If your mind stays blank, just scribble. Or enjoy the moment and come back tomorrow.

Keep a variety of pens, pencils, paints, printing blocks and other mark making tools handy so that you can grab something at random rather than thinking too much about it.

Keep it small. A small square is much easier to fill than a big empty page.

Don’t mark out all the squares and columns in advance. Drawing the lines on your page and writing the date can give you a bit of mindless time as a run-in.

Nordic walking cartoon character

Finding a theme can help. Use a word or line of poetry, colour or monochrome, your pets or home. I made a printing block (from cardboard and craft foam) and print a circle each day as my starting point, which means I don’t have to think about how to start.

It doesn’t matter if it looks rubbish as it’s about the process not the result. Nothing has to make sense.

Keep it simple, don’t overthink the process.

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