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Covid & Creativity

A close up of Submerged by Jasmine Rock

The title should probably say Covid & Creativity (or Lack Thereof). I don’t know about my fellow artists, but my quarantine productivity was hit and miss. The evidence of that is shown in the photo above; it’s an old painting from 2017 that I decided to rework as my lockdown project. Why not? After all, the message was everywhere: you have to use this time! If Sir Isaac Newton could discover gravity during the Great Plague, you can learn a new language or get into baking! Remember all those sourdough starter posts? It all seems so quaint now. Well, I wanted to have something to show for my time, too.

I had made similar pieces before, and it had been a while, but things weren’t working as they had in the past. The old paint seemed to resent being covered over and I had to fight my once familiar materials every step of the way. It became physically painful to work on and eventually, I just stopped. In the background of all this, the isolation, stress and disruption to my routine were affecting my mental health. As a result, it was months before I painted anything.

There is this stereotype that true artists must suffer before they create, and the more angst, the better the outcome. Take tortured souls like Vincent Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo, for instance. Culture came to this conclusion long before we understood nearly as much about mental health and creativity as we do now. It’s time to let this idea go and remember that artists are people first.

Some made amazing art during this crazy, unsettling time and I am proud of them for doing that. It likely wasn’t as easy as they made it look. Some, like me, languished as pandemic life slowly sapped our motivation to create or do much of anything. At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that art is not a competition. You have to find or manufacture your incentives however you can. As your mental health improves, so will your artistic output. Taking care of the former helps the latter and vice versa. Making art can be an important part of your self-care routine.

I’ve had my share of false starts during this past year, but I did eventually paint again so I could submit to Everything Beaux (which has been extended to May 15th). It feels good just to write this post and put my thoughts on virtual paper. I even had an idea for a new piece while writing it. To any other struggling artists out there, take care of yourself and know that you will create again when you are ready!


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