7 Questions

7 Questions

The New York times wrote an article 7 Questions 75 Artists and 1 Very Bad Year.  In the article, they asked 7 questions to various types of artists to discover what they experienced, during the pandemic. Some of the answers were revealing, some funny and some were profound.  The following are the questions, plus my given answers.  Answering these questions gives you a view of your “creative mind during quarantine”.

What one thing did you make this year?

From November 2019 to the end of March 2020 I had completed 120 abstract paintings.  March 9th, was the beginning of shelter in place.  We were in complete lockdown.  I had completely switched to doing figurative work.  The piece that I created is called “Grief” (shown above).  I am the model.  My painting oddly shows myself in a dress and heels, which soon became obsolete attire for one in isolation.  I am seated in my “Sacred Place”, where I pray and meditate daily.  My body looks weary and burdened; feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.  Not only was I feeling the loss of not seeing my family, but also feeling the collective loss.  There was a sense of despair, but at the same time a halo of light surrounding me, showing hope.  No matter what, there must always be hope. 

What art have you turned to in this time?

I don’t know if you can call it art, but I delved into puzzles.  Because of my visual memory, it was easy to put together 1000 piece puzzles.  I probably completed five of them and numerous smaller ones.  It helped me keep my mind off the monotonous days of isolation and occupy my son with Down Syndrome.  I would start them and he would finish them.  We looked forward to this togetherness. 

Did you have any particularly bad ideas?

Yes, it was sort of a good idea and bad idea.  I got rid of all my furniture in my living room.  The only thing that was in the living room for four months, until my new furniture arrived, was a chair and a rowing machine. Good idea, I didn’t have to worry about company, bad idea, I had no place to sit. 

What’s a moment from this year you’ll always remember?

It’s funny, trying to find toilet paper.  I found some online.  It was a scam.  It took me over three months to receive.  It came from China.  The size of the toilet paper was as described 40 rolls, but they forgot to mention the rolls were only 2” wide and 1” thick.

Did you find a friendship that sustained you artistically? 

My husband always supports my art.  He respects when I feel a need to create and when I don’t.  He worked during home and helped with the grocery shopping.  We became very close, although I didn’t believe we could be much closer, being married for over 43 years. We never tire of each other. We were so grateful that we had such a close relationship, during this lonely time.  We found we are definitely stronger together. 

If you’d known that you’d be isolated for so long, what would you have done differently?

This is easy.  I would have created more and also journaled daily, about my experiences and feelings.  It was very difficult to create art, during this time.  When you are in survival mode, creating seems to stop.  Even though it could have been very healing, I was too focused on my basic needs.  

What do you want to achieve before things return to normal?

I want to complete my Twelve of Twelve series, in which I enlarge 12 abstract studies to a 36″ x 36″ format.  I will be creating them on arches oil paper with cold wax medium and then adhering them to a cradled wooden panel.  There’s a good chance I have a show lined up, as soon as we are open to larger groups.

The pandemic has taught me a lot.  I will always remember that, “now is all there is” and what sustains me is my family and creativity.  It is important to make both a priority.  I would love to hear your thoughts to these questions.  I’m sure I will find them very interesting.  

 


The COVID Effect

 

 

As Artists, we are highly sensitive and intuitive people.  Although, these feelings and senses are so important to have, it also makes us vulnerable to mood swings, depression and anxiety.  Our emotions may go up and down like a roller coaster, as well. This artistic nature allows us to see and feel what others may not, especially during these difficult times of Covid it may feel overwhelming.

Creating takes an enormous amount of energy.  As we are overcome by the tremendous amount of negative stimulations from the news and social media, we might discover that there isn’t enough energy left for ourselves and left for our imagination to create.

There is a fine balance between too much and too little, which we all must control, in order to stay healthy and productive.  We thrive on stimulation, but paradoxically we need a lot of alone time to recalibrate our nervous system and refuel.  

I have found that being isolated has created a need for me to revaluate my art.  My environment during COVID has affected my art deeply, making me aware that I need to do what I love, without asking for permission.  So many rules during Covid has made me want to break the rules that I have enforced upon myself.   Isolation has made me aware of my demons along with the constant reminder that I am aging.  Time is not to be wasted or to be creating without joy.

Monotony from the lack of the ability to be with others, visiting far off places and having new experiences, in a strange way has been a force in discovering my creative needs. I needed to find stimulation and joy in my art as a substitute.  I no longer wanted to make going into the studio drudgery.  My studio now had to be a place of boundless freedom, wellbeing, pleasure and most of all joy. 

The above painting was a turning point for me, when showing it to a friend.  I could feel her tension and how uncomfortable it made her feel.  She almost appeared either frustrated or angry that I was creating in this way.  Perhaps, because of Covid, she needed art that was more soothing and blended.  She started showing the signs of agitation by asking, “Why is it so active? Not quite sure about this painting.  Is it in process?  What are you doing with these yellows and reds?  Are you experimenting? You’ve got a wild streak going on there!” It was odd, purposely exposing my truth and obviously being rejected.  

The painting previously was very dull and lacked intensity.  At the last stage of the painting, I released myself and began to overlay transparent bright colors.  It felt so good, in fact, I felt chills.  I knew then I had to always be myself and not paint for others, no matter what, even if it wasn’t appreciated.  This experience was definitely a turning point.  Oddly, now I feel that my work is more honest and most people appreciate it and are more affirming.

Covid has created chaos, and out of chaos there can also be growth for the positive.  The feedback of Covid has created big changes and small changes, but Covid has also forced us to be more aware, resilient and thrive.  What fills you and what sustains you? It is for each artist to discover what that is.  I found mine and so grateful.