Wanting to make some time for creativity? Keen to find a distraction? FT arts editor Jan Dalley will be online on Saturday May 16 at 12pm and 5pm UK time to answer your questions. Head to the comments section at the bottom of this piece to read the discussion and get involved
So, how’s that novel coming along? And that guitar you were given for Christmas: is it still in the box? Or are we all too busy, er, watching Netflix?
For most of us, in the experience-rich but endlessly hurried and harried lives we took for granted before the Coronaverse, all we longed for was more time . . . time to relax, time with family, time away from social pressures, time to pursue the creative side of ourselves, time to do all those things that seemed at the end of the rainbow — if only we had the time.
Well, many of us do have the time, now. Whether we like it or not. We might be on furlough; we might be forcibly idle because our work is in abeyance; we might be busily working from home but at least spared the hours a day we used to spend commuting.
Perhaps, despite all other pressures, we want to fill that time well. Perhaps we want to feel that, in retrospect, this bizarre, frightening and tedious moment will have been for something. Something we wouldn’t have done otherwise. Something creative.
As far as consuming culture goes, there’s a bonanza right now: at any time of day or night, in whatever timezone, we can go online and immerse ourselves in a famous Shakespeare production or splurge on magnificent movies, zone in to dancers leaping, rock stars strumming, great art gleaming at us off museum walls.
That’s not the same, though, as doing it ourselves. And for that, the opportunities right now are also superb. Here are just three of the many artistic opportunities we can easily embrace from our living rooms.
In Grayson’s Art Club the people’s favourite, Grayson Perry, talks from his studio about how in this crisis art can console us, inspire us — “get us through”. His multi-part series on Channel 4 focuses on what’s around us — portraits, animals, still life, what we see out of the window — but also uses skippy themes (“fantasy” is the latest) plus celebrity guest appearances, as well as the viewers whose art has been sent in to the programme.
It isn’t exactly a how-to programme. As Perry says, “I’m not trying to turn everybody instantly into great artists or to show you how to draw sunsets, hands or birds. I’m talking more about what it means to be an artist and getting yourself into the social, emotional and anthropological context of making art rather than telling you how to hold your pencil.”
If you do actually want to know more about how to hold your pencil, however, and how to capture those classic lines, try BBC’s Life Drawing Live. A programme that takes artists of all levels and places them up against the traditional challenge — charcoal, easel, model — it is packed with advice, tips, insights; it’s a real, vivid, old-school drawing class. They razz it up with time-challenges but that’s all media-hype for the pace of the programme: you can use the red button for an uninterrupted view of any of the many models so that you can take your time, try again and again, and listen to the feedback.
This is part of a new daily series enabling you to interact with FT writers and editors on what to read, watch, eat and drink under lockdown — and how to tackle your garden, home and finances
Beyond the exact placing of a bellybutton or an elbow, there are of course hundreds of other genres and ways of expressing yourself — even if you only have a postcard sized piece of paper, or a small pile of assorted junk and a tube of glue. How to use fabric, how exactly to mix your colours, how to model with clay: for all of this and much more there’s a remarkable resource at hand, on Instagram, at #isolationartschool. You can find advice and help on just about anything here, from printmaking to flower studies. I have heard even highly successful professional artists raving about the quality of what’s on offer.
British artist Keith Tyson launched it in March “to put together creatives and those who want to learn”, and successful practitioners contribute to showing you just how to start, move ahead, make progress with your work, whatever your chosen form. The great illustrator Quentin Blake making a drawing, and talking us through it every step of the way, immediately drew more than 100,000 viewers; I’ve watched it over and again.
There are so many more possibilities. Let us know which your favourites are, what is inspiring you during this lockdown, or ask us (and other participants) any questions about what you’d like to do, how to get started, or how to progress.