When phone apps have run dry and working out in the garage is not exactly working out, anything that is not math homework and written assignments can seem like an oasis. Although it can be stressful trying to get through to the other side of the stay-at-home order, it gives people the time to get creative and an opportunity to work on projects they may have never done otherwise.
Now is a perfect time to finally accomplish the creative project that has been put off for far too long, or to start a new one. Every artist has their own style and everyone comes from different backgrounds, so it is important to experiment and find ways to both occupy and enjoy oneself. Fortunately, there are people in NAU’s artist community who can help.
Junior Sian Blake spent this year studying abroad at NAU as an art major and is currently living in England. She will return to the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England in the fall of next year. Blake said still life painting, which features inanimate objects as subjects, is one of the main types of art forms she produces but is trying to push herself by painting landscapes. She said landscape art is a challenge for her and there’s no reason not to do it right now. Blake takes inspiration from the pictures she had taken while in Flagstaff.
“When I was in Flagstaff I had a little watercolor album where I would do watercolor paintings from my photographs and I put them up in my room. For some reason I had never really put my work up in my room before,” Blake said. “Now I feel more motivated to create art for myself because being an art major means you have to create art for an assignment, and your heart is never really in it, fully. It’s quite nice painting things for myself that I never really had the time to do.”
This is just one way to stay motivated and inspire oneself to keep working. Blake said it's nice to set up self projects, especially after or in between assignments to look forward to something. Blake also said she is very organized and is constantly making lists and piles of things to update. She said one project she finished during self-isolation is patching up a pair of jeans she has owned for a while, and it felt great after she had finally done so.
Freshman Levi Boley is an art major and another student keeping up creatively during the stay-at-home order. Boley said he draws to stay occupied while practicing social distancing.
“People should try to work with what they have. It would be a really good time to try some art that doesn’t require specific tools or a big studio,” Boley said. “Just finding things around the house that you don’t really use. It’s a good time to experiment with unconventional media.”
Boley said unconventional media are items that are not typically thought of as art. He said stuff that does not have a use can be turned into something that does.
Although students are able to find fun ways to do personal projects at home, there is still the question of how they can manage to do their assignments at home. It can be hard for art majors to manage their lessons and homework without the materials and environment they had before the pandemic. The staff for NAU’s School of Art is working to create interactive assignments for students.
NAU Art professor Del Zartner runs the social media pages for the School of Art. Zartner said art is a very hands-on discipline and is very interactive. Students have lost the ability to chat with her in person, talk to the classmate sitting beside them, and the privilege of working with specialized tools and equipment, such as the welding machines used in some of her sculpting classes.
Zartner said she and her colleagues have tried to come up with fun ways to bridge the gap by doing a variety of activities for students to earn credit for classes and participate with classmates. These activities include get-togethers, art contests and a weekly series titled “Social Distancing Sanity Demos.” The demos are videos using follow-along media techniques that people can do at home, such as sculpting with cardboard boxes or making recycled paper. The tutorials are simultaneously cast over students zoom classes and posted on Instagram Live. The School of Art is launching a YouTube page soon.
She said it can be hard to stay motivated or start completely from scratch if one has not tried to consistently create art. Zartner said she is really into digital media and there are a lot of ways people can try doing digital artwork.
“One thing I have my beginner students do is to keep a creativity journal, which is sometimes just a way to put down whatever comes into their minds at that particular moment,” Zartner said. “So like a doodle while you’re talking to someone on Zoom, or a candy bar that you found on the ground and liked the colors and shapes so you paste it in there. You start to get cool things that reflect your personality. It doesn’t require any skill or fancy materials, so it’s a nice thing to do at home.”
One does not have to be studying art to try things along with the students who are. Art is subjective and crafting or creating right now can be a relaxing break.