At the start of the pandemic, I initially thought to myself, “Hey, maybe this will be an extra productive art year, since I’ll just be stuck at home.” Ha! It was not. At all. My visions of paintings and drawings galore did not materialize. Turns out all that extra stress did not lead to an art boom.
I’ve also been reminded of the importance of listening to yourself and taking time for a variety of activities to keep the creativity flowing (or just, you know, trickling). I couldn’t expect to work full-time and then just crank out artwork. It became important to focus on the things that made my days a little brighter, and all of those things, in turn, helped me feel rested and ready to go when I sit down to draw or paint.
Today, I wanted to share a list of the things that have helped me replenish my creative energies. Before I get started, I want to note that because of my day job, I have the privilege to make art because I want to, when I want to, and to not make anything if I don’t have the motivation. Not everyone will find the practices I mention below helpful, and that’s valid! I hope you will enjoy learning a bit more about my own process nonetheless.
In no particular order, these are the ways I like to rest and recharge:
1. Get Outside
Okay, I know I just said this list was in no particular order, but this one really is my number 1. Taking walks outside in the fresh air is the best way for me to manage my mental health, think through art ideas, and reflect on nature (and how I might render it). When I lived in Fort Collins, I walked a trail behind my house almost every day. Now that I’ve moved, I haven’t quite settled on a favorite trail, but I try to walk around a local park whenever the weather is decent.
Reading is another activity that helps me relax and helps me feel intellectually stimulated. I haven’t been reading as much as I have in previous years, but I’m trying to get back on track. Back in January, I shared my 2021 reading list, if you’re interested in that.
3. Cultivate Hobbies (Outside of Visual Art)
Cultivating non-art hobbies has been vital to my artistic process in the last two or three years. When I was in high school and college, drawing was my only hobby, and I burned out. Over the past few years, I’ve battled with motivation and art block, and one thing that has helped has been to find hobbies that don’t involved painting or drawing. These hobbies let me be creative without constantly pulling from my visual art energy. In 2018, I started teaching myself the piano (after more than a decade away) and learning Swedish (it’s been slow progress). When I feel burned out, it’s nice to turn to another activity that helps me grow.
4. Play Video Games
While my brothers and I played a lot of video games as kids, I haven’t played many games as an adult besides Stardew Valley. In November, I finally splurged on a Nintendo Switch. When my partner and I aren’t playing Mario Kart, I love to play Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley on the Switch to relax.
5. Spend Time with Important People (Friends, Family, Partner, etc.)
I haven’t visited with family or friends since the pandemic began, but I’ve tried to keep up with family over the phone or Facetime, and I am lucky to live with my partner. We spend time together each week - talking, puzzling, or catching up on Netflix.
6. Play with my Pets
I live with Sparrow and Reginald, and these two gremlins demand my time. I must, of course, give in to their demands.
7. Listen to Podcasts
I love to listen to podcasts while I tidy up around my apartment. Over the past year, my favorites have been This Might Get Weird, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Queery with Cameron Esposito, and PANTS with Kate and Leisha. When I want to practice my Swedish listening skills, I might tune into Konsten att vara, but it’s a bit beyond my skill level at the moment.
8. Do Nothing
That’s right, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. Some days I just need to chill out on the couch, and that’s ok!
What sorts of activities help you rest and recharge? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’m always interested in trying something new, so I’d love to hear from you.