With most news today being virus-related , it may help to calm nerves by occasionally exercising a part of the brain often forgotten about during times of crisis — your creative side.
Tapping into your creative side is less about making a masterpiece and more about giving yourself permission to be imaginative — a lesson any happy, finger-painting five-year-old could tell you.
Ready to take the plunge? Read on for inspiration and free online creative resources.
All you need to start sketching is blank paper and any pencil you have handy. Start small by selecting a single object in your home that catches your eye, such as an intricate ornament or leafy houseplant. Look at these slowly and deliberately and you’ll see them in a completely different way. Move on to pets or family members, sketching specific features such as an ear or eye and experimenting with shading. Then, try portraits in cubist or surrealist styles.
Inspiration: Draw an image of yourself without looking in a mirror. Then try again with a mirror for surprisingly different results.
Whether it’s your camera phone, DSLR or even an old Pentax from the closet, take some time to learn the settings beyond Auto mode. Then snap household objects from unexpected angles; create abstract slideshows of shapes and textures; or set yourself a single theme (try circles, hidden letters or shades of red) — perhaps in competition with other snappers in your home or online.
Inspiration: Recreate a famous artwork, photograph it, then post it to the @GettyMuseum Twitter feed where hundreds of others are doing the same.
Smart phones have made making home movies easy, but improving composition, sound and lighting (backlit figures are a no-no, for example) hugely enhances quality. Orient your device horizontally and experiment with filters and slow-mo. There’s also great demand for humour videos right now, but the trick is to keep things simple — check out “serious” actor Sam Neill’s Instagram account for his self-created, self-isolating shorts including Das Bad.
Inspiration: Shoot a narrated ‘travel’ video at home, describing rooms, artworks and pets as if they were exotic overseas attractions.
You don’t have to pen an epic novel to enjoy creative writing. Find a quiet, no-distractions space, write everyday for several hours (preferably at the same time) and don’t give up. The trick is to blurt everything out without worrying about quality — polishing and editing comes later. The subject? Practice with short vignettes of events from your past, deploying different sensory descriptions to evoke scenes and characters.
Inspiration: Use this line to begin a short story: “It’s 4:00am and my heart is still racing…”
- TCK Publishing’s Creative Writing Exercises for beginners
- Free online Gale Courses in writing are available to many Canadian public library members: search your library’s website.
From knitting toques to upcycling old furniture, there are plenty of crafty projects to consider right now. Need fresh ideas? Write and illustrate a chapbook for a loved one, then mail it in a decorated envelope. Fashion a shadow puppet theatre (curtains included), then write and perform an original play. Or create an elaborate cardboard palace for your cat, complete with multiple rooms and distractions. Whatever you do, keep it social by organizing online craft meetups — 2020 will definitely be the year of the Zoom-based sewing circle.
Inspiration: Gather items in your home that could be crafted, from shoeboxes to buttons to chipped plates (perfect for mosaics).
Whatever creative activities you decide to tackle, just remember to slow down, take your time and fully immerse yourself in the process. It’s almost guaranteed to help reduce virus-related anxieties — and you might even discover a cool new pastime to enjoy for years to come.
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