Are you wondering how to develop your art during lockdown? I think we are all battling to come to terms with a new normal that seemed to happen overnight.

We’ve all just been through what is probably the strangest Easter we’ve ever experienced. Our Easter Sunday is usually filled with family, laughter, chocolate eggs hunts and then a kitchen full of music, chatter and activity in preparation for a meal together. Today it is quiet, and I’ve had a few wobbles about not being able to see them. But I know they are safe and well, and that’s all that really matters.

Along with every other part of society as we knew it, the art world has been turned upside down. We’ve lost the ability to visit an exhibition and stand in front of a painting to take in the subtle detail. We can’t attend workshops to expand our range of painting techniques under the guidance of an experienced tutor. We aren’t able to head off with a group of other artists to have painting days together.

For now.

But only for now. The world will never be quite the same again, but one day we will be able to do all of these things again, and in the meantime, the best thing we can do is support each other, and stay positive.

We tell ourselves we should be able to use this time to create a substantial body of work, ready to share with the world as soon as lockdown is over. But somehow, for many of us, that’s just not happening. I have felt frustrated and confused by my inability to settle down to painting. But I realise there is no point in beating myself up about that. I know from experience that I need to be in the right frame of mind for the flow to happen. But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on painting. Far from it. I’m just using this time differently.

A process to help you develop your art during lockdown

  1. This is the perfect time to go through all your art materials, and pull out everything you’ve not used for the past year.
  2. Give yourself a challenge to use some of your forgotten materials to tackle a project you wouldn’t normally approach: Go smaller, go bigger, use a new medium, draw for 15 minutes each day, collage from all the old magazines you can find in the house – every family has some somewhere. Just do different, for now. You’ll make some new discoveries
  3. If you have a supply of sketchbooks, now is the time to use them as a resource. Use past sketches as jump off points for new sketches. Develop an idea through multiple iterations in your sketchbook. Find the pages in sketchbooks that you didn’t finish and feel happy about working on now. Start a themed sketchbook or two.
  4. Use some of the aspects of lockdown as catalysts for creation. What are you focusing on now that you hadn’t really thought much about before? What do you value differently?
  5. There are so many artists who are generously offering free video classes and inspirations through this period, you can sign up for a course, or just trawl YouTube for ideas. (Health warning: be careful you don’t get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of great material on offer. I have had to park some videos for later and choose one direction for now)
  6. Most important – be gentle with yourself. It’s OK to not be as productive as usual. It’s normal to be feeling distracted and unsettled. This too shall pass.

I have a weekly video studio session with my friends from the Society of East Anglian Watercolourists. Our conversations are enjoyable and helpful in so many ways. These have become a way for me to ensure I get into the studio for a couple of hours, and even if I am just pottering and chatting, if feels like healthy time connecting with other creative human beings. If for you being with other artists is another way you can develop your art during lockdown, you could try setting up video chats with others so you can have a virtual painting day.

How are you dealing with creativity during the lockdown? Get in touch and let me know. I’d love to share your suggestions.