Now that things are starting to settle into a “new type of normal,” I would like to reflect a bit on what I personally learned as an artist during the past few months while the world was put on pause during the Coronavirus pandemic.
1. I needed a break. There were times before March of 2020 when I would literally run across parking lots like a college student late for a final – just to finish my errands or light shopping. I had somewhere to be by some time, and I had no time to spend slowly strolling to the store. When the pandemic first hit, I – like most people, was completely unsure of what to do with all my free time, but after the first week, I began to appreciate the slower pace of life. I could take walks with my family, ride bikes, eat dinner on the front porch and watch the traffic drive by. I had time to do things that I wouldn’t normally do and be in the moment.
2. Art matters. I’ve often wondered how the world would look if we could just “turn off” all the art. If it were possible to get rid of all graphic design, architectural details, design choices, etc – I just know that people would beg to get it all back. Well, in the pandemic, it seems that everything but art got shut down. When people had nothing else to turn to, and nowhere to go – art was there. The Netflix series that you binge watched, the book that you read, the video games you played, and the countless YouTube videos you got lost in – it’s all art. Artists of all types saved the day when it really mattered.
3. I’m a lazier artist than I thought I was. I don’t think I’m alone in offering myself the excuse, “If I had more time, I’d definitely make more art.” Suddenly, I had all the time in the world. Did I make more art? Unfortunately, no (see item #1). I made lots of videos about drawing and crafting to create more online content for the Art Center, but I didn’t really settle into the studio and work on my own body of work like I’d imagined I might. Some artists, and I hope you’re one of them, told me that they’d really been cranking out new pieces – but alas, not I… However, I did clean my studio, which was a wreck before the pandemic.
4. I need alone time. A lot of artists are introverts, and I can firmly say that fall into that category. My batteries are recharged by spending time by myself. It wasn’t always easy being in a house with my family with nowhere to go, but we found ways to find our own space. My wife got into reading and Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix (with 16 seasons, there’s a lot there). My oldest daughter got into drawing and would disappear for hours filling her sketchbook. My youngest daughter dove deep into YouTube. I finally got to dig into some video games that I didn’t have time to play earlier (Red Dead Redemption 2, specifically).
5. I need people. I have really missed connecting with people, especially when it comes to the social aspects of art. We just opened our new exhibit at the Art Center of the Bluegrass, Open to Interpretation – (check it out online here), and the show is incredible, but without having an opening reception, it feels a bit incomplete. Artists need to share their work with others. I feel that sharing is a great portion of what makes being an artist a rewarding experience. We’ve had Art Center classes over Zoom, and they’ve been great, but without being in the same room; it’s hard to feel the same camaraderie, and give the same feedback over a computer screen.
6. I am simultaneously eagerly awaiting and dreading getting back to normal. It’s a strange place to be in, but I do have mixed feelings about getting back to the way things were. On one hand, I’m looking forward to going to the movies with my family, live concerts, art show openings, eating in restaurants, handshakes, and hugs. The past week, I’ve noticed schedule creep. Kids tennis practice, peaceful protests, community theatre board meetings, band boosters, art classes, graphic design deadlines, and church services (all with social distancing) are starting to return and I’m finding that I have to make choices and sacrifices to accommodate my increasingly hectic daily schedule.I think that this recent pandemic has been a great time for self-reflection – to pause everything and take a look within and see what I need to change and adjust in my life. I’m sad that it took a global pandemic, with many lives lost and a major dent to the global economy for me to have a moment like this. I count my blessings to still have my health and my career as I realize that others have been far more affected than I have.
I’d like to hear from you. How has the pandemic shutdown affected you – both personally and artistically? Did you find it as a moment of respite or a major disruption? Are you and your family okay? I sincerely hope that this article finds you and your loved ones well and in good health. Keep safe and take care – we’re not completely out of the woods just yet.