How Quarantine Has Changed Me and My Art
A lot has happened in the last six months and things are different. The way that we communicate, work, and think has shifted; and for an artist, this can be a gift or a burden. I have meditated on how these changes have affected myself and my art, and it really has been a challenge, but regardless, it was important to me to understand myself in a new context. As a writer, communicating and understanding things clearly has always been important. And, for the past few months, without clarity about the world around me or my inner-self, writing has become very difficult.
I’ve started and scrapped several pieces of writing; poetry, personal essays, short fiction, even this article, and every time the only thing I could think about myself was how much I had failed. An artist who can’t even make art. It was a heavy feeling that sat with me; what does that feeling say about me and how I value myself and my work? What kind of purpose does that pressure serve? It took a while, but I needed to be kinder to myself, writing can’t always be easy, otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth it. I’ve thought lots about what the past few months have done to myself and I thought, in a world that is chaotic and distressingly dystopian, how could we not reflect that energy within our lives and our art? So, a while ago I reached out to the Kaleidoscope team to ask them what they had learned about themselves and their art during quarantine.
Anna Golding, our secretary, wrote back saying;
“Quarantine will be great for my art! I will have endless amounts of uninterrupted hours, days and months to create, or so I thought. With all the time quarantine has brought it erased one important element that drives me to make art - deadlines. I have not lost motivation to make art, I have lost motivation to finish art. As soon as I have completed most of an art project a pause button is automatically pressed in my brain and there’s no resume or play button. Sadly, art projects of all shapes and sizes lay around my house paused for all of eternity.
Recently though, I have found a loophole. Not all art has to have an excessive amount of time put into it. Small, time-reduced or time-restricted projects are also completely valid art. Projects that can be started and finished in a single day or a few hours. I have come to terms with the fact that long-term art projects will not be finished during quarantine, but I also have a newfound respect and love for short-term art projects.” - Anna Golding
Thankfully, Anna was able to recognize a great way to continue making art in a way that’s more accessible for her at this time. Adjusting the process of making art is an extremely smart way of shifting focus off the negative emotions that come with abandoned projects and putting that energy into trying something a little bit new.
A collection of paintings that Anna has created during quarantine.
Image: Paintings displayed on a shelf, leaning against the shelf is a large paint palette covered in bright paint. Top left: A bright pink and purple portrait with a vibrant orange background. Top right: An abstract painting swirling bright colours into fuzzy circles making them look out of focus, in the bottom right of the painting is Anna's very clear signature in black. Middle: A second portrait painted in black and white, behind the face is a stark black circle, the woman's face features bright pink cheeks.
Nicole Mior, one of the editors for Kaleidoscope, shared her experience with personal growth over the last few months;
“Like everyone else, Quarantine forced me to spend my days living inside my head - my brain being one of the only places I could explore with all of my time on my hands and little space to travel. However, unlike most people, I was able to find perks and pros in my solitude. At heart I am an introvert: I prefer to be independent; I enjoy time alone. The pandemic allowed me to realize that although that is who I am, I have been robbing myself of my own happiness by the mainstream habit of FOMO.
Not only did I re-learn the ways that I thrive in my own company, but I also learned how I had been robbing myself from artistic expression, by leaving little time to focus on my art and hiding it with the fear of judgment. Quarantine changed my views on myself and my art by forcing out of me the courage to create what I want to create without the persuasion of social influence because, well, at the time there was none! And because of that, I now feel that I have grown as both a person and a writer by choosing to be honest with myself and with others through my work - creating what comes from my genuine identity, and allowing myself to embody that.” - Nicole Mior
Victoria Abballe, who is part of the design and layout team, had a positive experience staying at home and was able to foster a connection between her art and the outside world. Here’s what she had to say;
“During quarantine, I have gained more love and appreciation for my friends and family, experimented with my artistic practice, and learned how to love myself.
Quarantine has drawn my attention towards who/what adds value and happiness to my life, and the people/things that may not. I have been learning more about my own art practice by finding the mediums I love the most, making sure I love what I am creating, and having fun in the process. I have gained some new artistic friends and peers on social media, and it feels amazing being able to share my passion with so many people through the internet. At the start of quarantine, I was unmotivated to create. Although, after being more active on Instagram, I found many people who care about my art and are continuing to follow my journey. This brings me so much joy and motivation to continue! I have learned to love myself more and put myself first. I have been nourishing my body and soul by eating nutritious food and indulging in a few sweets here and there. I have also had the opportunity to invest more time to my mental and physical health by stretching and exercising more frequently.
Overall, quarantine has led me to become a better version of myself and surround myself with the people and things I love to live a happier life.” - Victoria Abballe
Photos provided by Victoria showcasing her art.
Image: Four photos in a grid. Top left: A woman holding up a very large canvas. The painting is a gradient from dark blue to a soft pink and then back to dark blue again, using short bold brush strokes. Top right: Three canvas bags with calming abstract patterns. Bottom left: Five sets of small stickers, a sunset, two abstract images (one blue and the other yellow), a collection of blueberries, and a collection of lemons. Bottom right: Black ink on paper printed from a carved zinc plate.
There was a lot of pressure to become better people, continue to create art, write a book, even learn a new language; and for some people that was the way to get through the world-changing – to find some sort of structure and peace. But, another extremely valid way of processing it is to take all the pressure off of creating and instead, listening to what your body and mind need. The mind cannot focus and be creative when it's tired of processing the world around us.
Isabella Savedra, a part of our layout team and one of our social media coordinators expressed a similar experience and felt that heavy pressure to be creating;
“As with many artists during quarantine, I have been faced with an abundance of time spent in my home. We see this as an opportunity to spend time on our art and then face this incredible pressure to create. I have spent days waking up and saying “I’m going to work on my paintings today” and then at the end of the day feel extremely guilty when I don’t. Art has always been a way to relieve myself but during quarantine if I don’t work on my art for one day I become stressed. But even during less busy times pre-quarantine, I wasn’t spending every minute worrying about producing. The mentality that we must always be “hustling” is detrimental. Using all our energy forcing ourselves to produce and be creative will just cause more stress.
What I’ve been forced to learn during quarantine (and I’m still working on this) is to manage my time in different ways and re-learn my limits. I cannot produce art every minute of everyday and so I need to stop pressuring myself to do so and shaming myself when I don’t.” - Isabella Savedra
Adapting to a global pandemic means patience, it means re-evaluating what is valuable to you, but most importantly it means taking care of yourself, in any form that takes. Being an artist is a gift, but it can very easily become stressful, we pride ourselves on quality and originality so much so that sometimes, when we are unable to meet our expectations it’s heartbreaking. But, in the spirit of being kinder to myself - It’s okay that out of the five projects that I started, this was the only one that got finished, and it’s okay that I may never finish the other four. Those pieces are a testament of how I am right now as a writer and human being, ambitious but, my energy and focus are fragmented; and honestly, that’s okay.
Written by: Amy Hanstke