Does anyone else feel like they landed in the middle of a bizarre game of musical chairs, where you had no idea the music was ever going to stop, and then suddenly it did?
The dark side of this pandemic / quarantine is all over the TV, internet, and radio (“Radio? What’s that?”) Listening to the latest updates on the terrifying world we are in at this moment can be draining, and yet may be oddly addictive as well. Some people are more at risk than others, some have more of a cushion than others. I find myself feeling jealous of people who have a backyard (or ‘garden’ as they say in England…) I used to have a back yard, because I used to have a house. I was quite relieved when I gave up my mortgage for a monthly rent bill to a landlord, and now I want my mortgage back. You never know, right?
But not all is lost. On days like today I find it easier to obey the stay-at-home order, days that start off gray, turn to light gray, then shift to dark gray. The temperature range for the day goes from a bit above freezing to a bit more above freezing, never approaching comfy at all. It’s raining and not raining, and at another time this would feel like the perfect day to stay home and hunker down.
And so it is!
A perfect day to pretend that for days and days I have been straight-out busy running errands and working out of the house and slaving away with worldly chores, and today, finally today, I get to have a whole day home alone to do whatever I feel like doing.
What’s the difference really? I don’t have to have an emotional hangover every day of this quarantine; that is, unless I want one.
Moments after I got out of bed this morning, I came into my living room (otherwise known as The Other Room…) and said aloud, “Yay! A whole day to myself in my beautiful loft apartment! How lucky am I?!”
Back to musical chairs…
How many of you had a library book checked out when your local library closed for the foreseeable future? What a cool case of musical chairs that was! No late fees!
I had checked out “David Bellamy’s Developing Your Watercolours” and it was due back March 21st. The bad news/good news is that my library closed about a week before that due date, so now I have all the time in the world to read it, try out some of the lessons, and pretend it is actually my book, all except for that bad habit I have of underlining and marking up all of my instructional books, as if I’ll be tested on the contents very soon.
Here is a photo of a two-page spread in the book, and my pencil drawing that, on second thought, got splashed with some watercolor as well…
A curious observation: Just when you think you are creatively exhausted, a really good book can still nudge you on.
The adrenaline-filled pace that I kept up for a few months before my watercolor show (which opened March 1st) left me with no energy at all to draw or paint for a little while. Or so I thought. But then there was this beautiful book, and suddenly I got the itch to play with the paints, brushes, and paper again.
I had no imagery in mind at all–that well was dry. But then I suddenly remembered an old friend of mine who has never let me down: Good Old-Fashioned Plagiarism.
Yup, when the creative muse is out to lunch, I can always copy. It’s a visual artist’s version of practicing scales, as I did in the study above.
Allowing myself to play with my art toys without the pressure of originality.
COPYING: As you watch one Netflix movie after another, and find yourself being a bit restless but not motivated enough to figure it out, try following my lead. Take any book or magazine that has pictures, grab your sketchbook and a pencil, and start a doodle that loosely replicates what you see. Distort it intentionally.
TRACING: If that is too difficult, grab a sheet of copy paper and your picture, walk over to any window, and use the glass as a light box so you can do a tracing. Seriously, when was the last time you traced anything? It’s really fun!
Suddenly, when you’re done tracing, you see you no longer have a scary piece of white paper staring you in the face. If your tracing is lousy, all you have to do is throw out the original picture, and no one will be the wiser: the technical term from art school is called ‘shooting the model’. Also, if your family is driving you crazy and they see you doing this, there’s a good chance they’ll back off and give you some much-needed space. After all, they’ve never seen you behaving so strangely.
As always, the perk of drawing is that you get to leave your familiar time-space continuum and go where no man has gone before, at least not today.
The drawing itself doesn’t need to have a purpose or a point. It doesn’t need to be super pretty or impressive. It’s just a moment of priceless A.S.T.: Art Supply Therapy. Free of charge, and afterwards you just might feel like this crazy time of self-quarantined musical chairs has unexpected gifts, hiding right there in that jar of pens and pencils.
Enjoy! And let me know how you got on…