Monday, January 19, 2009

Being creative on Blue Monday

Some experts have worked out that today is the most depressing day of the year! So how can you use your art to work through a difficult time? This post can show you some ways that you can be creative, positive and feel good about yourself and your artwork.

January Gloom

In the UK, a rash of reports in the last few days have indicated that normal seasonal blues will be made much worse this year due to the recession and economic worries.

The theory is that in the middle of January each year we always tend to see a number of factors conspiring to make people feel particularly gloomy. Things like:
  • Christmas is over and it's a long haul to the next festivity
  • the credit card bills are coming in
  • more New Year Resolutions have been broken than kept
  • that new regime around getting more exercise hasn't quite taken off
  • the weather is cold and gloomy and getting ready for an outing can feel like taking off for an expedition in the Antartic!
This year it's all feeling that bit worse than most because:
  • the levels of uncertainty around the economy are unprecedented in recent decades (see this BBC report)
  • people have been well and truly scared by the media and are acting in a cautious way irrespective of whether or not they are likely to be affected. Everybody is behaving as if their job is at risk - even if it isn't.
  • the recession is beinning to wear us down. Psychologists reckon that people cope well for about three months - and then things start to go downhill. This quarter is likely to see more people buckling under the pressure
However, the good news is that we're a lot more resilient than we might think. In general even if people hit wrong rock bottom, there's a tendency for people to be optimistic and creative so that they can bounce back and be better than ever. (I've definitely got to agree with this one. I now look back on the major knockbacks of my life as being the best things that ever happened to me).

The best insulators against gloom are generally agreed to be family, friends, exercise - and being creative.

Some creative solutions

Here's what I've been doing.........

Sketching outside in January: This is something I've never done before because I thought it was too cold. It's not - but you do have to work out the best method of insulation and generally make quick sketches. It also gets me out and about and taking a bit more exercise in a month in which I tend to hibernate.

Developed a project about drawing one place all year round: Good intentions are not enough! Developing my Ecology Park Pond Project REQUIRES me to both take exercise. Plus it's also a project which has reenergised my production of artwork - and producing more artwork makes me feel good and I produce more artwork...........

Helped to create a group which has a common focus for artwork: Watermarks is proving to be very beneficial to my creative processes. It's a place where I can explore processes which are new to me and take a look at the other way in which people work. Plus of course working with ones art cyber buddies is another way of insulating against the economic chills.

None of the above has cost me anything. I'm using existing art supplies and my resources found in the locality of where I live.

I do however think I might be investing in some lino cutting equipment so I can try a new approach to making art and learn a new skill - which I'm really looking forward to!

Your options to be creative, be positive and feel good

Here are some of the things you could be doing.

If you can afford to:
  • why not start a collection of artwork? Set aside an amount each month and buy one piece of artwork. Remebber your budget could be used for an installement. Buy for your own enjoyment and not with an eye for making money. Buy artwork which makes you feel good. It'll not only give you something you enjoy, it may also help another artist's finances.
  • start planning to invest in your own creative development. Have a good look around at all the courses, classes, workshops and painting holidays on offer and do something new.
  • Try a new approach. Expand your creative horizons by trying something new. Would-be lino-printers should form an orderly queue and keep visiting Watermarks!
Options if money is a problem:
  • visit more exhibitions. A lot are free and seeing art can be very rewarding and provide you with a huge visual stimulus to your own creativity
  • swop art with another artist. You don't have to buy art to have art by somebody else hanging on your wall.
  • create a group with your cyber art budiees around a common interest. The feeling emerging from members of Watermarks is that knowing some of the group very well and others rather less well has proved to be very educational and productive. The fact that we're not all the same and all work in different ways is stimulating!
  • reorganise your art supplies so you can see just how much you've got already and can access it all easily. Often we feel deprived if we can't afford to buy more supplies - without realising how much we already have! Give yourself a boost and remind yourself just what you've got! See also my earlier blog post on The art of economising - on art materials
So what's with the mittens?

Yesterday I went sketching with one of my art groups around Spitalfields (the sketches will be appearing on my sketchbook blog this week). I've been looking around for some fingerless gloves and was really pleased to find these which are knitted in alpaca wool and so are really warm. The best bit is that the fingerless bit has a mitten cover for when you've finished needing your fingers. I bought them off one of the craft traders in the new part of Spitalfields market. I knew thet were made by in Bolivia by a fair trade group and when I got home I found out a bit more about Artesania Sorata.
Artesania Sorata provides work for families with low incomes in both rural and urban Bolivia. The income generated enables the artisans to provide a higher standard of living for their families. The nutritional and educational opportunities for their children are improved, indeed many have now graduated from university.

Over the years Artesania Sorata has supported adult literacy and health programs, creativity workshops in state children´s homes and a children´s hearing program. We believe in the right for all to live a healthy life with a positive outlook for the future.
So I invested in a piece of creativity by somebody else, contributed to the health and economic well being of others, added to my warm gloves collection, got some necessary supplies for my artwork outside and gave myself another reason not to duck out of the walk to the pond for a quick sketch! :)

What are you doing to beat the gloom?

How about you? What are you doing to beat the gloom?

Do comment below if you'd like to share your creativity, your thoughts on being positive and your ideas for investing in the creative and economic development of yourself and others.


Cathy Gatland said...

Is it a Freudian slip that on the most depressing day of the year you referred to Watermarks as 'Waterworks' ;..) Even though it's hot and muggy here I'm having trouble galvanising myself into the new year, so good to read these suggestions. I'm sure once I've thoroughly cleaned my studio I'll feel more entusiastic.

Making A Mark said...

Teeheehee! I'm going to get into "trouble" for that!

Now corrected - thankfully the second reference was correct.

It's pouring with rain outside - which is the only reason I now won't go out! We're apparently in for a wet and windy and rather wild week this week!

Jeanette Jobson said...

Well the cold snap is supposed to break today so that in itself is reason to cheer up!

All of the things you mention I dabble in to get me out of the pit I occasionally fall into in the winter.

Lino seems to have grabbed a lot of attention lately and this is a good time of year to try new things. I'm waiting anxiously for my supplies and new book to turn up this week.

Books...there's always something to cheer up winter. Sinking into a soft chair with a cup of coffee and a new book. Heaven.

Miki Willa said...

We have a thick layer of frost on the ground and it is pretty cold for this part of the world. To chase away my winter blues, I am trying new things. I went to a pastel demonstration yesterday by Bill McEnroe. I have seen many demonstrations by realists and wanted to see something done differently. I have also been learning a bit about collage. I am nearly at a point where I am ready to try one or two. I have decided to do a self portrait, which could be quite amusing. The biggest thing I am doing is going to Sedona, Arizona to do a mentorship with Michael Chesley Johnson in February. Thanks for sharing your creative ideas.

Peggy Montano & Paintings said...

Good inspiration today!
It is a gray, gloomy, cold day here but I have just returned from our Monday morning figure drawing group. We have a model and draw, paint, or sketch. I am set for a good book and hot cup of coffee.

Making A Mark said...

What a wonderful way to start a week Peggy! I'm quite envious.

Making A Mark said...

Miki - I look forward to seeing the collage. I've never been tempted but on the other I have seen some pretty impressive collages in my time and always wonder how people approach them.

Gosh - going to see Sedona to see Michael! I guess that's going to involve some red and rust shade pastels!

Making A Mark said...

Jeanette - Robyn has just given me a tip about lino tools which is to check whether you've got the ones which are pre-sharpened or whether they need to be sharpened after you get them.

Who would have known?

Kathy Hodge said...

I enjoy your blog and your pond project is very interesting. I've been thinking of doing something similar with a little river that I cross while driving around. It runs under roads, through marshes, behind shopping centers and into the bay. I like your idea of documenting your work on a map. I'll probably do the same. Now I need to find some waders!

Anonymous said...

I certainly would have shoes thrown at me if I complained about our 70ยบ weather. Though I have never gone for the doom and gloom attitude.
I have some great things planned for the new year. I plan on finishing my charcoal series and showing them perhaps in the summer or fall.
I just set in motion today, an idea for a group show in May.
My mentor is moving to town and I am looking forward to painting with him more often.
Life is looking really good.
Not sure I want to learn anything new, except for maybe a new knitting stitch, and I do hope to discover a new color.

Looking forward to the Lino work from everyone.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thanks Katherine -and Robyn. According to the cut on my finger, methinks mine are presharpened... :)

Anita said...

So that explains my sudden confidence dive yesterday - I can just blame it on January blues!
I sorted out my art supplies on Saturday - set my timer for an hour and went round my "studio" like a whirling dervish tidying everything up.
Discovered that the lino tools I have are rusted up - not sure if they will resuscitate or not.

Felicity Grace said...

I saw the photo and thought you'd taken up knitting! I knew however there would be a very interesting and art related reason for the gloves! It's a perfect time to read your post and think about creative ways to beat the gloom. We survived bird flu, ebola, MRSA, mad cow disease etc., I'm sure we can come through this too! ;) I have plenty of unused and unfinished sketchbooks to keep me going for years probably but I have got a couple of little ones that I want to put a series into and just play with ideas.

When I visited Green & Stone and heard that one of their sketchbook suppliers had gone under, it did bring it home to me that we should support our local art shops and not just use them to check out the goods before we go online looking for a cheaper deal. Geneva is down to just two art shops.

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