Last week at the end of Studio Night I posted on Instagram (@elizabethalley) that I'm very grateful for my art practice during the coronavirus quarantine. Even though I was distracted that night, I made some art in my studio and felt better.
I have Studio Night every Tuesday night. I make art other times, but Tuesday nights are for being in my studio and making new things, experimenting, and working stuff out. When we started this quarantine thing I thought I might grab some more time here and there for art-making, and I have, but the routine of Tuesday nights has been really good for my soul.
This is all in addition to my regular sketching practice. Lately I've been sketching a lot of coffee cups - okay, I always sketch coffee cups! - as well as houses in my neighborhood and people on Zoom gatherings and work video meetings. I'll show you those soon, but I wanted to shift focus here on having a purposeful practice of making things.
Getting Set Up
This is my setup, or rather, these are my setups. I'm very fortunate to have a studio in my home. Ever since my husband and I moved into our second apartment in 1992 (one that had more than one actual room!), I've had at least a studio area, but often a half or whole room. It's a priority for me.
I know it's not everybody's priority and it doesn't have to be. You can have a small amount of supplies next to your favorite spot in your den, on the kitchen or dining room table, or nearby when you're working from home. You may see a lot of supplies in these photos, and they do all get used eventually, but what I mainly work with in the studio are a small traveling watercolor kit, some colored pencils, a bottle of ink, and sketchbooks.
Something to Start
You might think that routines and repetition are antithetical to creativity but that is just part of the myth of creativity that we have in our culture - that it comes in bursts, or that it comes to you without you asking it to.
The truth is, creativity is work, but it is the best and most fun work. If you start moving your hands with a brush and some paint, or with cutting out shapes and gluing them down, ideas will start coming to you and you'll see things in your work you wouldn't have seen otherwise.
So if you go to your space for making art on a regular basis and you see what you have and you add things and take things away, you will generate ideas and you will generate work.
Here's my progress over the last four weeks:
Follow on Instagram for inspiration, prompts, and real talk about maintaining an art practice:
Flicker Street Studio @flickerstreetstudio
Lisa Solomon @lisasolomon
Emma Carlisle @emmacarlisle_
Martha Kelly @marthakellyart
Melissa Bridgman @bridgmanpottery
Lisa Congdon @lisacongdon
Malaka Gharib @malakagharib
Austin Kleon @austinkleon (he also has a good newsletter that you can subscribe to)
Missy Dunaway @missydunaway
I love Instagram for the inspiration in can provide if you follow people who inspire you, rather than people who make you feel like you aren't doing enough. There are SO MANY MORE people I could name, and I have - search on Instagram for #FSSsketchingworkshop to find a post I made where I listed about 40 inspiring people to follow.
A Field Guide to Color by Lisa Solomon
Syllabus by Lynda Barry (and anything else by Lynda Barry)
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (and anything else by him, too)
Sketching starter kit:
This link is for a list of items at dickblick.com. Normally I would send you to the Art Center but, sadly, they are closed for the time being. This is basically what we use in my sketching classes, but it can easily be your making-art-at-home kit, too.
I listed a Canson sketchbook because it has fairly decent paper for a cheap sketchbook, but my personal preference is Stillman & Birn - I like the softcover Alpha sketchbook. In my studio I have sketchbooks of all types that I work in at the same time - if you wanted to try working this way, buying more than one Canson isn't going to cost too much. But this could also be the time that you use all of those sketchbooks and notebooks you've been accumulating. Just open them and start putting some paint down!
Please let me know if you have any questions, and please share your progress!
Sketchwork is sketches and work about sketching - teaching, making art, art supplies, books, sketchers, artists, Urban Sketchers, Memphis Urban Sketchers, and traveling.