Rebecca Richard explores how to make time for creative hobbies as high-speed life ramps up.
As the initial three-week lockdown slowly turned into three months, I found myself at a loss for how to fill my time. The normally hectic months at the end of the academic year were suddenly freed up as exams were cancelled and there were only so many Kardashian reruns I could take. For years my watercolours had been longingly staring at me every time I opened my cupboard, but it was just never a convenient time to get them out. I always had something else to be doing whether that was university work or social events rushing me out of the door. However, with a seemingly endless national lockdown imposed, curtailing my outings to the pub or in-person tutorials, my love for painting was revived. I had all the time in the world to scroll Pinterest for inspiration, mess up the same drawing three times or have several different paintings on the go. This went on for weeks, sketchbook after sketchbook filled with fresh green nature scenes inspired by photographs from across the world.
Looking back, I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was the escapism, losing myself in the shapes and colours of apple orchards and flowing rivers that lockdown in a city couldn’t give me, no matter how far my government-approved daily walks took me. I wish I could say I kept up my creative outlet when classes started back, but it’s very difficult to get the imagination going after a long day of lectures and seminars, where dense articles and looming deadlines have drained you entirely. With social gatherings being legal again, creativity also seems to be pushed aside in favour of the still novel ability to go into our friends’ flats again. But this year, despite having a dissertation on my hands and (hopefully) a fuller social calendar, I am determined to prioritise my arts hobbies just as much as my degree.
“I wish I could say I kept up my creative outlet when classes started back, but it’s very difficult to get the imagination going after a long day of lectures and seminars…”
I love the feeling that comes with painting – when you look at the finished product and there is something to show for all of those hours. Often with university, you can read for hours and still not have started the essay or spend the entire morning prepping for a tutorial where you never ended up speaking. With art, you have something to show for your time, even if it is just a few rough sketches or some badly blended sunsets. And this, I think, is how we can try to fit in creative hobbies with our daily commitments in a post-lockdown world. I never seem to struggle to fit in my daily Netflix viewings no matter how much I have on, so picking up the sketchbook while I watch seems to be the way to incorporate art into my regular schedule. Although I’m constantly reminding myself that Picasso doesn’t need to approve of my work to make it worth doing.
If all you can manage in your post-lockdown lifestyle is 15 minutes of your hobbies, that is okay. Unfortunately, we are all stuck in a perpetual state of capitalist commitment and as much as we may hate it, it is the system which our society is built upon, we simply cannot be immune from it. But your painting, sewing or musical instruments are absolutely not worth giving up for your job or degree. Not everything you create has to be worthy of selling on Etsy, a few minutes of time focusing on something that isn’t your phone screen is always worthwhile, even if it’s not the complete devotion to our craft we wish we had the time for.