The isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of life, including how artists create and view their work. After experiencing this isolation, many artists are now seeing how much of a role in-person contact played in creating their artwork.
James Dietz, a professor of art and artist at Stan State explains just how much the pandemic has impacted his life as an artist.
“We count on interactions, we count on gallery openings. Teachers learn from students as well as students learning from teachers. So just the whole environment has been pretty much devastated.”
Art professors usually walk around classrooms and help the student with their pieces as they go. This became impossible once online classes began and there was no hands-on learning. Dietz explained that the Zoom meetings help, however it is not the same as meeting in-person.
An area that artists may find trouble with is the transition from being in class and on campus to having everything online and digital. Dietz gave some insight to the ways he balances the work from home life, as well as time he has for his students.
“You have to make sure that everything is there. So what happens is that you’re so worried about school, and you’re answering so many emails, and so many questions. Different problems from different directions, that’s kind of consumed my life.”
With Dietz focusing more on all of these worries, he is left with less time for his artwork. “The worrying about the students, making sure the assignments and everything are as airtight as possible, that’s what really cuts into my studio time.”
Many people are in the same situation as Dietz, trying to find the balance between work and art. Karla Nowicki, an art alumna from Stan State, is currently still figuring out that balance.
Nowicki states, “I have had to put away my pencils, my paint brushes, and pick up boxes and deal with the general stress and anger of the public as I got a minimum wage job in order to pay bills.”
Nowicki used to meet with art students and professors to help give insight on each other’s art pieces. Since then, as the time has ticked away, there have been very few of these meetings.
Nowicki says, “The draining daily concern for my own precautions as well as my family and then the public itself has aided in a struggle to have that ‘spark’ whenever I’d go to create something.”
When asking the followers of the Signal’s Instagram page on how the pandemic has affected their creativity and artwork, eight stated negative while five stated positive. One that has experienced a more positive effect is another Stan State art alumna, Emily Siemons. Though it has been positive for her, she still believes that it has a major impact in the art world.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a desk area in my home where I can paint, draw, and work digitally.” Siemons continues, “This is usually where I’d be working most of the time previous to COVID as well.”
From the testimonies and artist's personal experiences with COVID, it shows we may be forced to learn and evolve from our ever changing environment. Here are some great tips for how these artists did just that.
Dietz suggests that artists continue studying the works of others. “You’ve got to work. There’s no substitute for it. Study other artists.”
Nowicki says, “I try not only to find the time, and thus devote [myself] to that time and project, but also try to reach out digitally for support or opinions of my professors or friends.”
Siemons also has some advice. “Sometimes doing little creative exercises also helps. For example, just making watercolor blobs and going over them with pen to create doodles/ characters.”
All of the experiences shared by these artists help us understand how COVID-19 has affected the process of creating art. For those struggling with their creativity, consider trying out the suggestions given by these fellow artists and know that you are not alone.