10 Things Artists Can Do During Downtime

Besides social distancing.

  1. Dive into a Book

  2. Watch an Art Movie

  3. Do Colour or Composition Studies

  4. Try a New Medium

  5. Download an Online Art Video

  6. Draw! Draw! Draw!

  7. Visit an Online Museum

  8. Clean Your Studio and Purge Your Paint Box

  9. Make a list of what you want to achieve

  10. Update or Build Your Own Website

1. Dive into a Book

Flip through a good art book to keep yourself inspired. We all have some good coffee table books with beautiful pictures to inspire us to greater heights. 


My favourite books to peruse are; Joaquín Sorolla and Sergi Bongart. Post your favourites in the comments below.


Did you know you can also read a book? Artists are visual people but that doesn't mean we can't be inspired by reading. Don't just look at the pictures and glance over the captions. Read it and take notes - or better yet - make sketches!


I always gain a greater understanding after a second or third read. 

The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri is an uplifting read and I can read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist again and again.


2. Watch an Art Movie

There must be hundreds of movies on artists. This is a great way to learn about an artist you are not familiar with or to find out more about an artist you already love.


A few of my faves:


Tip. Don’t watch sad movies and waste your toilet paper.


3. Practice Colour or Composition Studies


Each day do a 20-minute study from life. Set up a simple still life or look out the window. There is no shortage of possibilities.

Practice - 20 Minute Boat Painting - by Doug Swinton

Read my article on the value of practice -5 Ways to Improve Yourself & Your Art.


4. Try a New Medium

This is the perfect time to stay home and try something new. Why not try gouache? It’s a lovely half-step from oil and acrylic and works with water. Here are a few examples of how I play with it…


5. Download an Online Art Video

Take your paintings to a higher level with renowned artists passionate about teaching YOU their skills! Visit Tucson Art Academy Online  to discover some terrific online tutorials for artists.


This is another good one… BoldBrush Video | Art Instructional Videos


Once you purchase a lesson you can stream is anywhere, anytime on any device. I like to take lots of visual notes when watching these videos so I can review what I have learned before each painting session.


6. Draw! Draw! Draw!

This is simple yet invaluable. Simply grab a sketchbook and a pencil and draw some stuff laying around the house. A cup, your toaster, your cat or dog. It doesn’t matter. The point is to get you thinking visually and to practice "seeing" in order to render a subject accurately.


Drawing also helps you relax. It is a mental exercise with benefits equal to meditation. Here is an interesting article 24 Health Benefits of Drawing


WHAT? You don’t have a sketchbook? Take advantage of our FREE DELIVERY (within Calgary) 403.258.3500


7. Visit an Online Museum


Pretend you are in a world-class museum. Go on a tour of the National Museum of Art in Washington and be amazed and inspired. Sure, looking at your screen is not as good as the real thing but you can do so while drinking wine in your bathrobe.


Your guide: 12 Famous Museums And Galleries You Can Visit Virtually From Your Own Couch


8. Clean Your Studio and Purge Your Paint Box

Your studio is your sanctuary. If it's already clean, how about your paintbox? Why not clean out some of those crumpled up, unlabelled, dried tubes of paint that you have been hanging on to since your great Aunt gave them to you. While you're at it, you can toss out those crunchy old stiff brushes you’ve kept since the ozone layer scare of 85’.


Optionally = Did you know that you can often salvage some of those brushes? This product is almost magical: Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer.


There is lots to be done. Review the space in which you create. If you don’t have a dedicated studio, how about reorganizing your workspace? Make sure you have proper lighting... etc. Here is an article I wrote about getting rid of studio clutter to achieve new directions. The Painting Purge


9. Make a list of what you want to achieve

This week, next week, next 6 months, next year, next lifetime. Here is a good book to get you motivated…


In The War of Art, author Steven Press-field helps you identify your inner creative battles against fear and self-doubt and offers advice on how to win those battles. An inspirational book for anyone who’s had trouble realizing their passion, it offers an examination of those negative forces that keep you from realizing your dreams, and shows how you can defeat your fears to achieve your creative goals.


  1. Update or Build Your Own Website

A website can be a great idea for any artist looking to improve their professional image and to showcase their artwork in general. Social media is essential but you also need your own website.


There are many ways to build a website and it takes some planning. You also need good reproductions of your artwork. Now is the perfect time to start putting it all together and to prepare for the next pandemic.


Article: How to make an artist website (and why you need one)


This Video shows you how to set-up your own website in about 10 minutes: How to Create an Artist Website Using Wordpress - YouTube


Your friend in art,


Doug Swinton.

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