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Poetry, painting, portfolios: More creative activities

Paint quickly or leisurely and share a sliver of your life.  (Photo Ankhesenamun 96 / Unsplash)

We are weeks into our “stay home / stay healthy” quarantines and some of us may be going a little stir crazy.  Others may feel uninspired or bored.

Yet we need to following our governors’ mandates and stay away from friends, school, clubs and gatherings and coffee shops.  We still may partake of  parks – and plenty of creative activities at home.  For while our patience and peace of mind may be running out, our creativity will continue.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have,” poet Maya Angelou said. 

So get started on one or two of this week’s creative ideas for challenging times:

Listen to poetry. Head to Poetry Out Loud and listen to old time and contemporary poems read by actors and poets. Maybe you will head to a park and listen to or read a poem. The site also has some amazing collections of poems, focused on spring and cityscapes.  We like the wide array and diversity of poets represented and appreciate the ease of searching for a poem. We wish there were more poems recordings but perhaps with another month of stay at home, stay safe, there will be!

Learn to be happier.   Yale University’s most popular class starts this week – and it will introduce anyone to the Science of Wellbeing. “We think we need to change our life circumstances to become happier,” Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor told CNN.  Yet it’s often the little things like social connections or gratitude that matter most. Sign up for free on Coursera; it will take about 19 hours to complete. 

Be a “two-minute genius.”   Artist and writer Danny Gregory‘s book Art Before Breakfast offers oodles of exercises and activities to encourage visual artists to create, sometimes while eating eggs or biscuits. We are savoring his exercises at lunch and dinnertime too, and recommend one the calls “Two-minute genius.” Divide a page in your sketch book into eight or ten or more squares. Then take two minutes “to draw anything you see in one of those squares….It’ll make you want to fill more and more squares every day,” Gregory wrote.  He wants us to document our lives, and in these times we should have plenty to sketch.

Work on your portfolio.   Start organizing your portfolio – whether you’re applying to colleges or seeking a gallery to represent you or expanding your creative website.  Make sure you get outside advice and share some stories behind the art you created. This advice comes from California College for the Arts.   And don’t stop at one; you may need a few different portfolios

Paint imperfectly.  Set up your paints and then set the timer for 55 minutes. Create something in an hour, and suspend all your judgment about it.  It could be messy and incomplete.  It could need another hour to get better.  The important thing is getting it going and knowing that it’s only a short time out of your day – but a time without boredom or worry or unhappiness.

We know these are not perfect for everyone. So for more ideas on creative projects for challenging times, check our first posts, which featured writing or drawing your pet,  depicting yourself as fruit, learning faceprinting and singing along to ’60s music.

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Fly into creative activities during coronavirus shutdowns

 

If you are stranded without a school or university schedule, or staying home as a precaution against COVID-19, you may have been handed a gift of time. 

It may not feel that way now, with galleries and museums closed and friends far flung and everyone feeling off balance or afraid.  Yes, we need to practice social distancing, wash hands regularly and thoroughly and take other precautions outlined by the CDC and World Health Organization.

You and almost everyone else are missing out on a lot – art shows and plays, senior trips and so much more. And yet, this time could be when you create your first masterpiece that will hang in MOMA or appear on Netflix in a few years.

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will,” best-selling author Stephen King said. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

So let’s get past that- and start working on superb goals for the next two to three weeks. Here’s some creative ideas:

Paint and create. Create a friendly competition with another young artist to see who completes more work in the next two weeks. Work on several pieces at once, like artist Shirley Woodson.  Create work inspired by the world today, or imagine and create a better one.  “Write about some of your ideas for a better home, school, neighborhood or church. What’s missing? What could you add to or take away from the world you live in now? Draw or paint or create a collage or clay sculpture to represent your ideas,” suggested artist and educator Adwoa Muwzea in answer to my request for ideas on Facebook. 

Learn to cook. Your family may feel stressed because there’s no real routine. Or your grandma or mom may be worried about money, about work or other things. So offer to make dinner for 10 days and then come up with creative recipes – from your family history or culture or from a great collection of recipes online. Cookbooks work too, especially ones aimed at newcomers like these six, including The Starving Artist Cookbook . It was written by artist, illustrator and graphic designer Sara Zin.

Make money.  Yes, start a small business and stash some cash.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, who has worked myriad creative jobs including delivering tap dancing messages, suggested making, bottling and selling handmade hand sanitizer, because it is in short supply.  Or offer your services as a babysitter, dog walker, photographer, personal chef or organizer to neighbors and friends. Be thoughtful and cautious about this. Do something small and safe, and if you have questions about it, speak to parents or trusted advisors.

Create with your pet. Dedicate some of the extra time at home to your pet, my pal Pam Murray suggests.  “Write stories from the pets’ point of view. Illustrate or film the story from the pets’ point of view, which could be pretty amusing if you have a Corgi- nothing over knee level,” she wrote on Facebook.

Write a play – in a day.  Sometimes a short project gets creatives revved up and ready for more. This brilliant idea for a play writing competition for college students was shared by my friend, theater and events consultant Nick Rowley. And it will leave you with time for other creative work:

Catch up. Your room’s a mess and you are behind on AP Calculus. So set aside two to three days for each and work diligently, using the pomodoro method to catch up. (Set a timer for 25 to 35 minutes and ignore everything else while you work diligently on a task. Then take a short break and start again.) Some people may need to catch up on their sleep, too.  Go for that after you have finished cleaning your room.

For artists and writers who appreciate specific ideas or prompts, we recommend creating art or writing a story or poem around the theme Abuela, Grandma, Bibi or on Resilience.  (Mint is working with Hannan Center on an art and storytelling show focused on Abuela and resilience seems like it will be a worthwhile topic for this year.) 

If you need help being productive while working at home, Fast Company magazine has excellent advice. If you need help achieving your goals, read our seven tips and find an accountability partner – another artist or your sister.

The key is getting started – today – on a creative or entrepreneurial project.  If you want to share your work in progress, please post it by Wednesday at 5 pm EST on Instagram and tag us @mintartistsguild .

Come back on Wednesday morning for more ideas on making the most of the time at home, with some incredibly creative projects for young creatives.

Photo: Vojtěch Petr on Unsplash