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CREATIVITY IN QUARANTINE | INSPIRATION, CHALLENGES & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Last week I was invited to take part in a New York based meet up for creatives – Creative in Quarantine: Finding Inspiration in Isolation – a space for artists of all disciplines to come together and discuss the challenges we are facing during lockdown, and to recognise our achievements. 

It was an absolute honour to be asked to participate, and despite a deep aversion to speaking on camera, I dove right in and loved every minute of it. Afterwards I felt super exhilarated and inspired, in awe of everyone’s eloquence in discussing their creative journeys during Covid-19. 

creative in quarantine

We were asked by host extraordinaire Tricia Patrick:

What does it mean to be creative in this time? Does it have to yield products/ advance our careers? Or can we just be creative for creativity’s sake? 

Such an interesting question and something I consistently find challenging. For me, there’s an enormous sense of having to use this time productively. Create to produce a product. Create to provide content. Create to make money. When art becomes your business, it can be very difficult to separate the two.

But when the intention behind creativity is multi-faceted and not purely for the joy of creating, it can become a pressure instead of a release. 

In an ideal world, creativity has the capacity to

  • yield a sense of joy
  • provide a release
  • be utilised as a coping mechanism to navigate emotionally difficult situations
  • connect one to oneself
  • bring about a sense of purpose
  • eradicate boredom

With that in mind, are we able to explore creativity separate from our artistry? Is this something you are able to do?

pink pineapple

We were also asked to share the creativity challenges we’ve experienced and overcome during lockdown, our accomplishments, inspiration and self-care practises. 

Here are my reflections on these areas.

CHALLENGES

Fluctuations in motivation – one week I’m energised and hugely motivated, the next I’m devoid of enthusiasm, lethargic and uninspired. How can I meet these inevitable changes with self-compassion, gentleness and grace?

Time management – how do I balance creating with all other aspects of my business – blogging, social media, newsletters, making videos etc.  Once I create a routine, how do I stick to it? Can I practise softness and flexibility instead of self-criticism and rigidity?

Adapting – having redirected my focus to in-person workshops offline, how then do I shift back to online offerings? Trying to embrace the necessity to learn new skills eg. how to make downloadable colouring pages; how to make video tutorials 

Expectations – mainly of my own productivity. How do I manage the demands and sense of urgency I impose on myself? Can I set myself small manageable tasks and be content with a slower, more organic pace of ‘getting things done’?

Comparison – my susceptibility to a ‘compare & despair’ mindset: other people got online quicker, other people are more productive than me, other people are more resilient and resourceful than me. How can I bring my attention back to my own lane and my own voice?

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

It can be SO easy to focus on what we haven’t done, what we haven’t yet achieved and quickly descend down the rabbit hole of ‘not enough’, so a practise of gratitude and self-recognition can provide a glorious antidote.

My lockdown accomplishments so far:

Website launched – I’d been procrastinating, endlessly refining and struggling with the inevitable tech difficulties of trying to build my own website, but I launched it! Ahead of schedule. With all its imperfections and unfinished bits. I did it! I built it and I launched it.

Youtube channel launched – quite literally after years of procrastination and ‘valid’ delay tactics, I’ve finally done it! Expect to find lots of tutorials, time lapses & much more. Please do subscribe 💖

Colouring pages created – a series of hand drawn mandalas, scanned, adjusted in Photoshop, and added to my website as downloadable printables for you to colour.

More blog posts & newsletters written – I love to write and this has gifted me the inspiration and opportunity to write more.

Sold more sobriety cards than ever before! From Tynemouth to Texas, Carlisle to California, Watford to Washington, my cards are reaching far and wide. It truly makes my heart sing to see my cards fly all over the world 💖

Created ‘Unsung Heroes of Covid-19’ – a series of interviews with extraordinary people with ‘ordinary’ lives, modestly, humbly making a huge difference but with no applause, no recognition. This idea was inspired by my friend Del and I am excited to see it grow.

MY INSPIRATION/ MY ‘WHY’

pink balloon

What inspires you? What is your ‘why’ behind your artistry, behind your business? Has it changed during lockdown? It’s so easy to forget these but so important to remember and reconnect. A sense of purpose propels us forward and provides grounding amidst uncertainty.

My whys:

To find an oasis in the chaos – to feel grounded myself and provide tools for others to do the same.

To harness a deep sense of connection – within myself and with others. 

To find joy, beauty and colour within the array of grey – it’s so easy to descend into a scarcity mindset, especially at a time when so much of our security structure has been dismantled. But despite the darkness, there is always joy. It is my commitment to myself to find it.

SELF-CARE PRACTISES

What helps you on a day to day basis stay sane? What keeps you connected to yourself and others? 

Here are my essential tools to keep my mental health in tact:

One day at a time – by keeping my focus rooted in today, I am gifted a reprieve from the frenzy of future worries. If I allow my thoughts to drift into the weeks and months ahead, I can experience a sense of panic and anxiety rise in my chest. I can still make plans and set goals for myself, but my attention is on the day ahead.

Routine & flexibility – despite a deep rebellious streak within me that fights against routine, I know it serves me tremendously. I set myself a daily and weekly routine but also allow for space to modify it.

Morning ritual – this is my saving grace. My daily grounding practise. It can vary each day but always involves a combination of yoga, meditation, journaling, affirmations, reading spiritual literature.

Exercise – I am too often too comfortable sitting on my backside, so this one requires a little extra work for me! Joe Wicks I am not. My favourite exercise is dancing in the garden or walking in the park, music in my ears and singing at the top of my voice. I probably look like a lunatic but I always feel exhilarated afterwards & there’s something very freeing about letting go of what other people probably think of me!

Online connection – for me, this is recovery meetings, my ‘home alone’ meet up for local solopreneurs, and my spiritual/ self-development book group. Seeing that sea of faces over Zoom has become an immeasurable support for me and provides a surprisingly soothing level of connection.

Phonecalls – there’s something still immensely comforting about a familiar, disembodied voice at the other end of the phone. Just a good old-fashioned phone call where I can’t see their face and they can’t see mine; where I don’t have to care that my hair looks shit and I’m still wearing pyjamas.

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STUDIO OPEN DAY | LEICESTER

After working tirelessly to complete my studio renovations I decided to celebrate by holding my first studio open day. Ever the procrastinator, I challenged myself to organise the open day in just 2 weeks!

rainbow candy home decorating

My daily to-do list often exceeded 30 items (!) but I was determined and focused like never before. I had furniture to paint, a party playlist to create, cupcakes to order, a photographer to organise, paper monstera leaves to cut out, mandalas to draw, drinks to make and glasses to buy… the list was endless. 

Miraculously, my to-do list became my ta-da list and I accomplished everything on it. With furniture all painted, cupcakes (to match my walls) baked, and homemade ginger and raspberry cordials brewed ( I needed pink drinks!) I was ready to go.

The guestlist was small (my studio is in my house!) and included my nearest & dearest friends and family, as well as some amazing supporters of me and my work. I’d jokingly invited people to think COLOUR when they picked their party outfit and emphasised that this was indeed a party (despite starting at 11am!) Most people ignored me 🤣 Apart from my sister 💖

From beginning to end I was overwhelmed by the amount of love in the room. I was deeply, deeply touched by the fact that so many people came, and that everyone who promised to come, actually did.

Many of my friends brought their children so in preparation, I had drawn several mandalas on 12″ vinyl records, ready for them to colour in. What I hadn’t appreciated however, was that Sharpies don’t work very well on my prepped vinyl! Thankfully everyone was extremely forgiving and partook in the colouring anyway – little kids and big kids alike. (I have since learned that it’s all about the Posca pens 💖)

One thing I didn’t want was for this day to be all about me. Celebrating our achievements (both external accomplishments and our internal growth) is something I believe we don’t do enough of. How many times have you slowed down to appreciate reaching the end of a project, before launching immediately into the next one? How many times have you ignored the wonders of your personal development journey, only to focus on where you haven’t reached instead?   

So I made an interactive Celebration Tree!

My guests were invited to pick a leaf and write down something they’d achieved that was worth celebrating, then hang it on the tree! I didn’t read the leaves until after the party so it was a beautiful, heart swelling, tear-jerking end to the morning.

As a thank you to my guests I was offering 50% off most of my stock. Not only did they all bring a huge generosity of spirit, but they were also hugely generous with their spending. They bought an enormous amount of prints and cards that day and for that I am so, so grateful.

rainbow house decor
livi lollipop leicester art workshop
keep going greeting card
livi lollipop leicester
rainbow alcohol inks
dream big rainbow print
vinyl record art

The final interactive piece to bring even more colour & connection to the party I entitled ‘Pocket Nuggets’. On multi-coloured post-its I wrote down some of my favourite quotes from my favourite spiritual teachers – Marianne Williamson, M J Ryan, Brene Browne, Susan Jeffers & more. Guests were invited to take a quote home with them and keep it in their pocket, then replace it on the wall with their favourite quote (if they felt called to share it).

spiritual post it note

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The whole room was filled with so much sunshine, so much joy, so much love – it filled with me deep wells of gratitude to share my studio with the people I love. When creating my studio the goal was always to share it. It was never meant just for me. 

Glorious captures of the day courtesy of Matt Glover Photography 💖

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Alcohol Ink Workshop | Leicester

My journey with alcohol inks started just over a year ago and in that time I have been approached several times to do workshops. Always hesitant and afraid to try something new I politely declined and said I wasn’t ready. Fast forward to June 2019 and with a double helping of courage I said yes!

This lovely lady booked in for a 3 hour 1-2-1 session, with the aim of creating some original artwork as a centre piece for her new home. Our session focus was therefore on learning how to use the inks and create multiple pieces, out of which she would select her favourite and have an enlarged print made.

pinterest alcohol ink workshop blue

Prior to the workshop we had discussed her desired colour palette (blues and greys), so I’d stocked up on all the blues (being a purely teal girl myself)! Our colours for the day were Sapphire Blue and Baja Blue (both by Pinata), Stream and Eggplant (both by Ranger), the combination of which was just dreamy!

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All the blues

With Yupo as our substrate, I demoed the blue inks and how alcohol isopropyl (99.9%) is used to move them around and blend them together, using a straw, an airbrush and a heat gun. My client then had the opportunity to experiment with each of these techniques and decide which one she preferred.

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Demo – all the blues and an airbrush

My intention was to convey the importance of letting go of control. Alcohol inks can be coerced and maneuvered to a certain extent but ultimately it’s about working with them, not against them. Allowing them to do their thing – without forcefully imposing your will and expectation – is where the magic lies. This is a constant challenge for me and undeniably an accurate metaphor for life!

During the session Anupa made several beautiful pieces in her chosen colour palette, varying the composition slightly each time but embracing the white negative space. Here she is with two of her favourites – I think her smile says it all!

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We both had a magical morning, not only producing gorgeous artwork with alcohol inks, but connecting through conversation too. For me, it’s so important to create an encouraging environment free from judgement, where my client feels safe and comfortable and able to create freely. Art is about expressing oneself, not what the teacher wants them to express.

Anupa so generously wrote this of our 1-2-1 alcohol ink class:

Today I experienced my first ever art workshop and I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect person to do it with. Livi was great in every way, from our first contact to the workshop itself. The 3 hour session flew by because it felt as though I was creating art with a friend 🙂 Livi supported me to produce some great pieces but she allowed my creativity to shine through with just enough guidance. The alcohol inks were super fun to work with and created some great effects. I would thoroughly recommend a workshop with Livi, you won’t regret it! 

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My client photographing her own work

This beautiful workshop has undoubtedly lit a fire inside me and I can’t wait to teach more alcohol ink workshops! If you’re interested in learning about alcohol inks and wanting to try a new creative outlet with endless possibilities, please get in touch. My workshops can be taught 1-2-1 or in groups of up to 4 people.

For questions and enquiries, please email livilollipopart@gmail.com ❤