• Laura Wallis

Being kinder to yourself during quarantine

Naz, a Debating Mental Health Young Leader shares her experiences of the artistic process during lockdown, as well as some top tips for being kinder to yourself as an artist.

“As an artist, quarantining might be seen as a gift because you now have all this free time to create some beautiful pieces of art. I remember telling myself this and expecting to be filled with motivation to create something amazing. I had a desire to paint and draw, refine my skills, work on my portfolio and even do some commision work so I could grow as an artist. But around day 3 of lockdown I had completely given up.

 Then came around Sunday 26th of April where I attempted to paint for 2.6 hours straight for the 2.6 challenge to support UK charities. Finally! this was the spark I needed to reignite my passion for art! That spark soon fizzled out and I was left, once again, not having an ounce of motivation to do anything creative. I didn't want to sketch, doodle or pick up a pencil or brush again. 

What followed was then a cycle of me beating myself up because I was “failing” as an artist and not making the most of a bad situation. I was forcing myself to create anything, it didn't matter what it was. But these listless attempts at trying to be artistic just fueled my inner critic. 

"You call that art?"

 "The proportions are wrong" 

"This is so unoriginal" 

"I should just give up" 

I think one of my biggest obstacles as an artist is that I am not kind to myself. This self hate leads to self sabotage and eventually just the complete lack of motivation to do what I love. 

There was a time when I was young and would just doodle whatever popped into my head, I was flourishing as an artist and wanted to scribble endlessly on any notebook or any scrap piece of paper I could find. My art supplies were eclectic, consisting of biros and felt tips and those horribly cheap pencils that would flake apart and break when sharpening but I didn't care, I was happy! The last time I created like this was probably when I was 9, 10 years later everything is about precision and accuracy, what art do people want to see and can I create better works of art than other people my age. Art became a competition, and I feel this ultimately sets me up for failure because I expect too much from myself, when I don't recreate the perfect image I have in my head I feel like I've failed. So if you're an artist like me and you are being hard on yourself, here is my advice for you: Ask yourself, " am I comparing myself to others?" If the answer is yes, then you need to get into the mindset that all artists are uniquely talented. You wouldn't compare the work of Vincent Van Gogh to Salvador Dali, both have their own unique style and one is not superior to the other. Stay true to your own style and if you haven't discovered it yet, now might be a good time to explore, try out new things and don't be afraid to try and fail. Create art truly for your own passion, not for anyone else's approval. Try to create through your emotions, when you're sad, try and make some art to cheer you up. And if you're happy, that's great! use it to inspire you. There are some interesting art projects going on such as daily creativity challenges by 64 Million artists or art prompts in the Channel 4 show ‘Grayson's Art Club’.”

Have you noticed any critical self-talk, either in your art, or other areas of your life? Has that got worse during lockdown? What are your tips to overcome negative self-talk, be a little kinder to yourself and find happiness in the everyday? We’d love to hear from you! Twitter @DebatingMH

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