Artist Well-Being

Managing Anxiety and Social Isolation: Part Two


Welcome back to part two of our discussion on managing anxiety and isolation. This is a topic that is always relevant in our world, but it feels even more important to address it and share our ideas during this time when a worldwide pandemic sees many of us living under immense stress and limitations. If you’d like to check out the first part of the discussion, which included contributions by myself and Katie Crumpton, you can find that here.

And now I’ll hand over to the great James Fosdike with some advice of his own.

I like to listen to comedy podcasts and get stuck into work. I recommend TOFOP, The Dollop, Wilosophy, The Grub, Bigsofttitty.png, Do Go On, and the Little Dum Dum Club (for starters).

Try to limit the news you’re receiving each day. I’m finding a reliable source is the Coronacast by the ABC (Australia). 10 minute daily podcasts that keep you up to date.

Also, it’s okay to feel sad and angry and scared. It’s very easy to get locked in a news cycle of doom, so when I have the time I like to put out happy, distracting type stuff online. It distracts me, and if it only amuses one person? Well that’s bullshit. It was a great joke and deserved at least 10 likes.

I enjoy having coffee in the backyard with my wife and telling her boring stories about gardening. I also like to draw with my kid, play Nintendo, and be silly with him.

Stay connected to your communities online and help others where it’s safe to do so. Dress up your pet. Draw a face on a bucket, you’ve got a new friend. Make note of the wild animals around your house. Give them names, introduce them to the bucket. Get a piece of thread, tie a loop in it and try and lasso a fly. Check in with your mates. they’ll tell you to stop lassoing flies but don’t listen to them, you’re actually getting quite good at it.

Check on your parents and elderly relatives over Skype and if it’s a video call, try and keep the bucket out of shot. Take your flies for a walk around the house. Hide them from your family, they won’t understand, we’re all just doing what we need to do to get by.

You can check out James’s fantastic art in his Redbubble shop.

And we’ll finish this blog with some insights from the excellent Jose Ochoa.

I make an effort to keep doing things as if I’m still going out for work. Shower, get dressed, eat when I usually eat on a regular day. A lazy day every once in a while is alright, but I notice that if I go like that for several days then I just feel constantly lazy, which can really bring me down.

Try experimenting with different mediums, programs, or ways to look at your art. If you’re used to a sketchbook, try out digital artwork. If you’re used to digital painting, try out a 3D program and a couple easy-to-follow tutorials. Redesign a TV show from your childhood, try and imagine what your favorite book character would look like in a live-action adaptation. The possibilities are endless, and the best part is that since we’re isolating, nobody has to see if we mess up an art experiment!

Strengthen your fundamentals! As visual artists, the basics are the main thing we can always improve on. Take the time to learn more about color theory, storytelling, anatomy, composition, architecture, character design, environments, texture, lighting, rendering, line art… There’s so many areas to sharpen that one quarantine won’t be enough!

Listen to things that make you positive. Avoid listening to sad music if you’re sad. It’s always nice to have someone empathize with our feelings, be it through song, visual arts, etc. But it’s important to know when we’ve stopped feeling that empathy and are just letting what we hear dictate how we feel! I for one love motivational talks and audios.

At first I felt a little weird, like I was on a self-help roll, but with time I realized that I just wasn’t used to looking at things positively at all, so it felt out of place. Nowadays it’s relatively easier to catch myself in the act of getting depressed or anxious (it’s still hard, but not SO much). The feelings still win, sometimes, but my mindset is different, and I can begin to tell when I’m pushing myself towards a slippery slope and do my best to avoid it. It’s amazing to see how much of what you hear on a daily basis has an impact on the things you tell yourself when you’re alone!

Try to get excited about having a little extra time. That’s easier said than done, but I’m sure many of us always say we wish we had more free time to read or spend time with family or get to a project we’ve had in mind for a while. Try and convince yourself that this might be a good time to get started.

Being thankful for the things you have can ease the creative process. Even a cup of hot cocoa or playing your favorite song while you paint can really brighten your day if you focus on that moment for a little bit, and leave the worries for their own time. Procrastinating on sadness works sometimes.

When it comes to artwork, don’t fail less; fail faster! Getting those bad sketches out is a great way to feeling like drawing in the first place. The idea of sitting down and doing artwork because there’s nothing else to do can feel a bit forced sometimes. Like the inspiration isn’t there or you’re pushing yourself and getting the fun out of it.

Don’t let that discourage you. I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself, and I’m finally learning that drawing a bad sketch isn’t failing at all, but instead is a part of honing your skill to achieve excellence. In this game, a failed sketch is just another part of the overall successful artist. When you’re feeling blocked and the blank page feels threatening, just keep drawing on it.

Visit Jose’s Redbubble shop to see more of his magical art.

I’d like to say a special thank you to the artists who have contributed to these blogs. We’ll hopefully be seeing them return, along with others from the Redbubble artist community. If you found this information helpful then we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And while you’re there maybe you have your own experiences or advice that you could share?

Stay safe!
Matt

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Matthew Dunn

Matthew Dunn is a Melbourne-based artist/illustrator and Artist Community Advocate at Redbubble. You can find him at www.matthewdunnart.com

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