“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”Andy Warhol
I read an article recently where researchers suggested that after just 45 minutes of artmaking, levels of the hormone cortisol, which is associated with stress, were reduced in all participants regardless of their prior art skills.
Another small study also found that spending 30 minutes creating art, especially free-form painting, was associated with reduced anxiety levels in first-year college students preparing for their final exams.
During lockdown 2 I have been working on the making module of the Pure Foundation programme, making art most days and I have found it has worked its magic on keeping me calm and relaxed.
I started on Module 2 in Oct-Nov 2020 and have found the structured activities and reading materials really useful in starting me off. From there I can in the words of Warhol “just get on with it”. So far, I have created charcoal and rubber drawing of shadows from my studio door; paintings on canvas, some with added fabric, also inspired by shadows spotted in my home surroundings; a series of themed shadow paintings referencing the same shadow photograph: Bevelled, Boro, Cubist, Caveman, Baroque, Egyptian, Surrealist, Frida Kahlo, Seascape, and a digital version which I made on the 28th January 2021.
In early November I also made brushes from plant and fabric materials following the Lorna Crane online course. And at the end of November, I made a Rainbow Cake and a Collage of Fran & Her Life. In early December, suggested by my mother, I repurposed some knitting that was to become a wrap cardigan, into a scarf.
The other activity that I do regularly that keeps me calm and relaxed and helps counter my osteoporosis, is walking. I love walking, often using Nordic Sticks for posture, strengthening and speed – sometimes taking a sketchbook with me, as well as using my phone to take inspirational pictures. I often return regularly to a particular site or tree that fascinates me, as in my recent Leaning Tree series of sketches and paintings.
I try to make art every day as it helps me maintain focus and clarity and takes me away from
overthinking. In order to enable this, I find it is a good practice if I make my studio accessible, warm in winter and ready to go, this and having a project and/or challenge helps me make daily art. However, this is always balanced against my family commitments and time with those I love.
Apart from making art, photography, cooking, music and writing are my other passions in life and keep me grounded and content.
During lockdown two and three we were a bubble of five. As a group, we did a lot of cooking in the kitchen and outside on a Bonfire cooking baked potatoes, sausages – we even made a pizza oven. Although I love sharing prepping and cooking with others, I also enjoy cooking on my own. One of the ways I celebrated my 70th birthday during lockdown three was by making Ottolenghi nut and chocolate cookies which I posted to family and friends – finding 20+ suitable containers was quite a task as well as getting them all to the local post office – they were very helpful, which was unexpected but immensely supportive.
I enjoy listening to Van Morrison, or instrumental music when painting or writing, but my hearing aids do impede the breadth of my listening. I love writing and receiving handwritten notes/letters, which I think comes from the letters my parents sent me as a child when I was at boarding school, however, their handwriting was very difficult to read; something I appear to have inherited! I regularly write blogs for my website. Oct-Nov 2020 I took part in The 21 Day Abundance Meditation writing up notes and observations in a Journal, which was important to me.
I also recently found my old box brownie camera, which is actually an ellipse shape. This reminded me strongly of my childhood and winding film on and taking photo’s on trips, both at home and abroad. I also now realise I still have my old enlarger and all the equipment from when I had my darkroom at home. I may explore this again one day. All of these activities have helped support my wellbeing during this time enormously and now lockdown is easing I am happy to be seeing my Personal Trainer in real life and joining a new One to One Yoga session, also in real life.
I am also looking forward to visiting exhibitions alone and with friends, and painting with other artists. I will continue to revisit previous work and see how I can integrate these with new projects. I’m currently researching ancient Holly trees which I’ve noticed at home in Sussex as well as in Norfolk. I’m also keen to follow up on Chained Libraries having visited the one in Hereford Cathedral Summer 2019.
Another possible lead is to instigate collaborations similar to the Smallhythe artists’ zoom meetups which we started in the first lockdown.
The future looks promising. There is lots to look forward to with excitement and anticipation.
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