Just though I would touch base with some thoughts on creativity and staying inspired during these strange days of being stuck at home in ‘lockdown’. Please stick with me – there are 5 TOP TIPS listed below….
Two Weeks of Lockdown
We have been at home now for over two weeks here in the UK and I am lucky in that I have a very busy and creative brain that sees inspiration everywhere and loves just doing stuff! I am that annoying optimist that everyone knows, and when the chips are down I’m the one that will find the mayonnaise to dip them in! (Ok, that was dubious but you get the gist). I am that person that doesn’t watch TV very often and will stay up till 2am because I am inspired to draw or paint, write an entire new online course, create a 30-day sketchbook challenge or decide to set up a new creative business. (So I haven’t done the last one yet but a few weeks at home and I am re-shaping the way I work for sure!)
But this blog is really not about me – it’s about YOU and how I can help you to stay inspired and feeling creative when you don’t have access to your usual routine, your ways of seeking inspiration and variation and you are unfortunately confined to the four walls of your home, perhaps alone or with a limited number of people around you.
Being stuck physically, in that we have to stay at home, can often lead to feelings of being stuck mentally – of being in a rut, of boredom, tedium, imprisonment and cabin fever. When we CAN’T go out, isn’t it strange how much we really WANT to go out?
Personally, I like to flip this entire mentality on its head and see this as an opportunity – as a healthy step back. I know I am someone that is usually out a lot. Running multiple businesses, taking my toddler to nursery then to family, juggling school runs and food shopping, checking social media and work and.. oh, crap I guess I should do some exercise too. For many of us we are on that never-ending bandwagon of doing… of running around, of working, of a relentless schedule. [Actually reading that back just makes me stressed.]
But in times like these we have been forced to drop everything. To stop. And in my option to re-set.
Re-Set and Re-Charge
I guess as an artist (and yoga teacher) I really do value the pause…. the space… the times when we do nothing except breathe and observe. Modern society provides us with so many pressures and many of these are pretty pointless when we think about them and many of these are self-created and somewhat superficial. I take these times of lockdown as a way to appreciate the small things, observe the important things and take stock of what really matters (Sorry – I’m getting deep here!)
I almost feel that I have gone back to a simpler time – a time where I don’t have to worry about juggling lots of things and I can just appreciate what matters… and enjoy the simple things in life.. including family (some of whom I miss incredibly), creativity and finding inspiration in the simple things around us!
So everyone has their ‘thing’ – the one thing they can’t do without. The thing that keeps them up at night and the thing that they LOVE doing. Mine is creativity and inspiring others to create. In times where I am forced to slow down and am confined to a specific area such as my home and garden (and the occasional walk in the woods) I start to look and observe. A new situation makes my mind race to create new solutions and new ways to work. New routines, new inspiration is all around me. I do find it truly wonderful how we as humans adapt and change so quickly to new situations.
So What Has Inspired Me?
In the last two weeks I have stepped back and found myself a new routine. My routine involves looking after a toddler, trying to run this art business, managing a new home and sorting out a pottery cafe that has been forced to close (and hoping that I and my staff get paid some income from the government).
Here are the top 5 things that I have turned to over the past two weeks.
Learning is always up there as my no.1 in terms of staying inspired. I have subscriptions to at least two online course portals at one time (where I have access to hundreds of short art courses) and at least 2-3 times per year take part in a more expensive and in-depth online courses that pushes my limits and teaches me a new skill. One of my favourites at the moment is Skillshare – I dip into online courses here every week – watching courses in the background as I paint or sketch myself and learn from some truly amazing art tutors (I have a few courses on these myself).
If you are looking for NEW online art courses, I also have a good selection of sketching and art courses that you can find here.
2. Simple Stuff
Having a toddler really gives you a fresh perspective on life. You start to view things in a new way and appreciate the simple stuff. Toddlers are looking at things for the first time – everything is new and exciting and inspiring., It’s actually crazy how as adults we are so cynical and jaded. From setting up fancy affiliate schemes online and building new course platforms, I am brought right down to earth by a ‘wee dance’ – yes, you heard that right, the ‘wee dance’ – the dance we do when my little girl does an actual wee in the potty (potty training – something we had been putting off for a year!). I am spending time drawing around hands and feet, repeating simple shapes and finding creative activities that a 3-year old can take part in. If you can keep a toddler entertained for 30 mins at a time then frankly you are a creative genius in my opinion!! See my Week 1 and Week 2 blogs on activities for kids/toddlers for more info. I’ve really enjoyed some of the simple and basic craft activities that we have done together – simple and fun is often really inspiring and good for the soul too.
Are there ways that you can actually step back and be inspired by the small stuff around you?
3. Inspiring Others Inspires Me
I always find that inspiring others inspires me. There is a common phrase that says that ‘the best way to learn is to teach’ and I believe the same is true with inspiration. It’s very much like ‘giving is better than receiving.’ I love creating new things and inspiring others, and when I see what they have done with it – well off I go, I am inspired again.
I am running my 30-Day Sketchbook Challenge again this month as an At Home In April challenge and when I see what everyone is up to it firstly makes me smile, but also provides me with new ideas and inspiration!
So please share with other what you are up to. Share on social media, tell your family, text a WhatsApp group, join a 30-day sketchbook challenge if you want – but SHARE what you are up to.
Perhaps challenge yourself over the next week to inspire one other person to do something… and see how that makes you feel?
I am a reading nerd – I LOVE books. I collect them, I devour them, I read them constantly. My house and studio are full of them. In terms of art books, I buy loads and dip in and out as my mind and inclination change. To be able to turn around in my studio and decide that today I want to look at ‘urban sketching’ or ‘watercolours’ – I can just open a book, view a chapter and get creating. I have classic favourite books that I turn to again and again and ones that I forgot I even had.
Perhaps in times like these you can visit your bookshelf and re-read (or read for the first time) some truly inspiring books?
5. Getting Out in Nature
Getting out and about in nature is good for the soul and certainly good for finding inspiration. There are so many wonderful and inspiring things in even the simplest walks or trips to our own back garden.
A walk in the woods with a toddler for example isn’t just a walk in the woods – we are looking for the Gruffalo or running away from big bad wolves. We are looking up at that ‘massive tree’ or collecting a ‘really cool stone’ or ‘weird leaf’. The way our feet crunch over the leaves, we walk over wibbly wobbly roots of trees, or jump over a log is exciting and fresh – I mean what doesn’t inspire you here?
For my own artwork I’ve been collecting leaves to scan into illustrator, picking flowers to put in a flower press and taking photos to sketch from.
So I hope that my little blog post has helped you to maybe re-frame this crazy period of worry, uncertainty and lockdown. As a creative person I hope you do find some inspiration in the limited space and world around you and can embrace the new ‘lockdown life’ we are living for the next few months.
I am on your team here and am busy working on ways that I can help you even further with inspiration. My special lockdown 30-day sketchbook challenge ‘At Home In April’ is well under-way and I have a REALLY exciting new membership programme due to launch in May called Inspire… details coming your way soon.
Take care everyone and stay safe and inspired.