The pandemic has forced us to spend most of our time staring at screens – with meetings and social interactions mostly being done via zoom – leaving us mentally drained and exhausted. Being stuck in front of a screen in your home for work drains you of energy, so I often spend evenings slumped in front of the TV. It’s difficult to find a way to switch off that is away from screens and requires little effort.
Whilst reading is a good option of something to do away from a screen, it often still requires a lot of focus. I may have read a lot already this year (16 and counting!) but I’ve noticed that I’ve opted for books that would more than likely go into the easy reading category. I have given up on more books than ever because the struggle to concentrate gets too much. There is obviously nothing wrong with light reads but, for me, when I can’t focus on gritty books, it’s an indication of the toll the pandemic has taken on my already over active mind.
From September to December last year, I spent my evenings making felt ornaments for the Christmas tree. Whilst this was a lovely way to switch off, I still had something mindless on TV. I tried crafting in silence but my busy mind wouldn’t stop, and having a podcast on required too much concentration.
Then in February, with a sudden wave of inspiration, I dug out my collage book. I love playing with watercolour, colour pencils and pens. I love having an image from a card or magazine and working it into a scene I’ve created in my head. I love finding a way to bring it all together with song lyrics.
Art therapy helped me through a particularly bad breakdown in 2020, just before I moved in with Ryan and the pandemic hit the UK. I found a sketchbook that I had used as a scrap book at University. In my old bedroom at my parents, I had a pin board that was in memorabilia and included a lot of cards. I wanted to keep some of these but display them in a different way, and finding my old scrap book provided the perfect opportunity. There were two weeks in February 2020 where I was immersed in disassembling my previous scrap book, the cards that were pinned in my room and using them for collages that told different stories.
Collaging is a way for me to be creative, provides a break from screens and allows me to switch off. My need for meticulous planning is gone; I may have a rough idea but I never know what I want the final outcome to be. And if it doesn’t work, the beauty of collage is that you can cover it up!
That’s what I’ve found, in the last year, doing things for my own pleasure, in my own time, as and when I want to. I am not collaging to become an artist and sell my work. Nor am I blogging to gain thousands of followers and sponsorship. Neither am I open water swimming for medals. I have found ways to just be, without trying to prove my worthiness to myself or anyone else, and for that I am immensely proud.