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Creating in a Socially Distanced World

Creating in a Socially Distanced World…

On April 11, I began writing a blog post on “how to survive a pandemic as an artist/professional art business” and immediately deleted it as it was stress causing as I faced my biggest fear. Also the pandemic had nearly hit its peak within Manitoba with cases skyrocketing. My professional art business was closed with no idea of re-open.

I thought others may feel the same as I do and so I began to think about how I could help others at this time, not in a financial way but on an emotional level as we all know that art has its healing powers not just for the maker but the audience as well.

The Manitoba Arts Council was looking for grant proposals to create socially distanced art. I thought this is a great time to apply for my first-ever-grant and produce art for my upcoming shows (Fleet Gallery in September and Pulse Gallery, ongoing).

While the gallery was closed and while I thought about the grant idea, I took a week and focused on cleaning up my studio to make it less of a storage space and more of a functionable working studio again. I sold the extra stuff and really assessed what I had to work with. After 13 years of being in the same 400 square foot -ish studio a lot of extras and unfinished works were unearthed.

My grant title sums up exactly what I wanted to do with this grant which was all encompassing: Learning, Exploring, Developing, Inspiring & Sharing. I set myself up for a huge challenge and after three works of almost daily ‘stories’ on Instagram, live painting sessions, live chats, and sharing my work process, I’ve managed to complete several pieces or have several pieces almost completed. In between there I also painted a commission for a client and shared my process at the same time. I thought, why not give a little extra as its a fairly simple process to capture a few moments every hour.

One of my biggest challenges is to “not buy anything” and to “use what I have.” I have used up all of the tissue paper, one third of my acrylic mediums, and various tubes of paint. The first three finished paintings are mostly shades of blue. I seem to have an excess? I love blue and can’t resist. I painted over old and unsold works to enhance their texture and beauty. I am also unable to purchase 99% isopropyl alcohol as its needed for medical reasons at this time so I have moved away from starting new alcohol inks and I’m finding ways to finish what I’ve already started.

Unfortunately the Live Chats can’t be saved but they have been really great. In the first one I felt like I was talking to myself and the delays of replies of questions were a bit too long and I tried to be a bit silly but that isn’t really my nature, I’m a pretty serious person! A lot of people popped in for a few moments, listened and then carried on. The second one I chatted with Michael Joyal and the third with Lori Ferguson. The feedback I received on this made me wonder if I should do more of these in the future as “cre8ery”. I’ll give it some more thought as my time is limited for extra projects when i work full time.

At the end of the day, I want to inspire people to create art at this time. Its an amazing release of pent up emotion and stress and there is no better time than now to learn. I’m learning new ways of working and adapting to what is around me. Because not everyone is on Instagram/Facebook/social media, I am also writing two blog posts about this time period and two e-newsletters to make people aware of my project. I’ve attached a few highlight videos to this blog for you to watch. Enjoy!

I miss people, I miss showing people in real life my art, and I miss teaching other artists.

PS the live painting videos are not as exciting and interesting to watch as the time lapse paintings so I plan on doing more of these in the future. If you want to follow along my Instagram page is @jordanlmillerartist

Special thank you to the Manitoba Arts Council for their support of this project. Without their funding I don’t believe I would’ve had the drive to create and connect in this way. Its helped me get through May’s COVID19 closure and art helped me and others pull through some strong feelings of isolation and even loneliness which I’ve never felt so intensely before…stay tuned for “June 2020”.

Thank you- Merci!

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