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Creative ideas to try at home that can boost your mental health


Staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak can leave you craving a creative outlet, so De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) artist Jamie Scott has shared some fun ideas to try out.

As well as listing his pick of creative activities, the Fine Art lecturer also spoke to us about why art is considered good for our mental wellbeing and how the COVID-19 pandemic might impact on artists.

Jamie Scott

Why is art linked to good mental health?
Art can be thought-provoking, helping you to process a wide range of conscious and unconscious thoughts, and it involves all creative activity.

How can people get or stay creative at home?
There are lots of ways, but here are a few things that are good fun to try - anyone could do them including children:

  • Grab a pencil/pen and a piece of paper. Sit opposite someone you are on lockdown with (or a mirror if you are alone) and draw what you see for five minutes. Set an alarm and during this time DO NOT look the paper. Repeat the process with your left hand (or right if you’re left handed). They will be brilliant drawings!
  • Gather 10 random objects from around your home and make them into a person/creature in five minutes. Give it a name – what is it saying to you? 
  • Create your own photographic alphabet of naturally occurring letters. For example, ‘T’ might be an upside-down sweeping brush, ‘O’ could be the top view of a toilet roll, and so on. Write a message to someone with this alphabet.
  • Take photos and videos of your works and share them with friends, family and social media to stay connected. You can even take turns setting challenges for each other.
  • Keep/start a sketchbook going – document all of this unprecedented stuff with drawings, photos, thoughts and so on.

We are all trapped here together - painting by Fine Art student Shannon Lero

How can people continue to enjoy/consume art from home?

Galleries across the world are posting images, videos and livestreams of work – enjoy them and share them with others who you know they will bring joy to.

Share your own thoughts and makings on social media. Our Fine Art students are posting some very interesting and funny things they are making at the moment - you can find them on Instagram @creatives_in_quarantine.

What role do you think art has to play during COVID-19?
I think during this early time of lockdown/isolation maybe there isn’t the space in many artists’ heads to make finished bodies of art. However, artists are inspired by contemporary issues and the world we live in. We are living through unprecedented times and I expect artists will be making work around the impact COVID-19 is having on us all.

It feels like the world is at war with this virus and I think about how artists have responded to war. They provide a very different reflection to that of the government’s and news reports. Artists living through COVID-19 have the opportunity to be ‘war artists’ and make very interesting, thought-provoking, beautiful works as a result of these challenging times we are experiencing.

In Out - Jamie's work on show at DMU's Leicester Gallery last February

Will COVID-19 have an impact on how art is made/consumed?
I don’t think it will, but for many artists reflecting on contemporary issues, it will be central to the content of their practice.
Maybe forcing people away from the everyday fast-paced living we have become accustomed to, will help people realise that there are other very important things to engage with in our lives. Hopefully this includes art.

What challenges/opportunities do you think COVID-19 brings?
The current restrictions are obviously impacting artists, including our students who rely on workshops and studio space. However, as an artist, I often find that working with things I have never experienced before provokes all sorts of discoveries and learning opportunities to develop my practice.

So this is a great opportunity for artists to be creative with materials, techniques and media they are unfamiliar with, which can lead to all sorts of fantastic discovery and learning.

What advice would you give other artists during such a challenging time?
Maintain a good balance to your daily routine, make space to eat properly, get some exercise, read and keep being creative.

Above all stay at home and keep safe!


Stay up to date with all the latest information from DMU about COVID-19 here:  

Posted on Thursday 2nd April 2020

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