Finding Time for Art: Art Class for Undergrads Event

Despite having hours of free time, I'm often drained by the end of the day after hours of online classes, meetings, and office hours. So the extra time I do have is usually time wasted, where I'm exhausted by the screen-time at my computer, and slightly disturbed by my strained eyes and hunched back. Normally, I try to go for walks, or I end up lying down. Covid-19 has undoubtedly contributed to a profound feeling of boredom in my everyday life. Yet, mustering up the energy to do even a simple task, like reading for pleasure, can sometimes feel impossible. Signing up for the Art Class for Undergrads Event forced me to reconnect with something that I love to do, but often feel too unmotivated to actually start--art.

The event began with an encouragement for participants to turn their cameras on to have a more personal and connected experience throughout the event. Although there was no pressure for our cameras to be on, seeing faces on the screen instead of black boxes did make the space feel more like there was an actual community being established. This feeling of community was heightened further by breakout rooms, where participants were asked questions like "what does creativity mean to you?" and "what art piece would you like to create with your younger self?"

The first and second drawing prompts were in relation to our younger selves. What would we communicate to them if given the chance? Several participants drew pieces that communicated words of advice, the most common being to appreciate what you've been given. Especially in a Covid world, loss is a pervasive feeling for many. Learning to appreciate what you have is important when confronted by the reality that current opportunities (like dancing, going to a coffee shop with friends, going to a party, etc.) were and are not guaranteed.

The photo above was my finished art piece. We had about an hour to work, because the event itself was an hour and a half long. Following the prompt, I decided to paint a picture of myself as a child asleep on a couch. I think about my childhood quite a bit, and I think I would tell my childhood self to slow down and enjoy being a kid. Growing up now, the world suddenly seems really big and frightening. Now and then, I long for these simpler times--going to the park with my mother, gardening with my Nana, taking walks by the beach, eating orange juice popsicles. Stepping away from the exercise, I realized that my advice for my younger self is still applicable to who I am now. I'm still young and I have the ability to slow down and appreciate the little things, like doing a puzzle with my roomate, or baking Christmas cookies with my Mom.

There are improvements that could be made with my painting, but for a quick exercise I was thrilled by the finished product. I also really enjoyed being able to use watercolour paints again. The class allowed me to revisit a hobby I had lost in the midst of the pandemic. Remembering how therepeutic painting is, I'm going to encourage myself to commit to picking up a paint brush now and then. I suggest anyone else who loves art to try painting again if you feel stressed, anxious, nervous, or sad. These are tough times, but it's okay to slow down.

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