Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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« Student Art as Insight; Eric Gibbon’s COVID-19 Altered Books | Main | #Journal Week 2 Review »

May 13, 2020

Lowered Expectations for Creative Quarantine

By Michelle Harrell

What’s my biggest tip for self care during quarantine? Lower your expectations.

Shouldn’t I be posting inspiring stories about changing lives through art education? To be honest, I need to confess how super-sweet positivity feels unnatural to me right now. Between the uncertainty with work, school, and family, I am trying to stay in the moment. Anyone who knows me understands that doesn’t come easy for me.

In the beginning of quarantine, long stretches of time were aching for lofty aspirations. The 6-15 hours of my weekly commute were quickly repurposed into an ambitious series of art and home improvement projects. I found inspiration in lists of 100 things to do during quarantine and stories of what past inventors, writers, and artists accomplished when forced into social isolation. I began a series of life studies and prepared dozens of canvases for all the work I envisioned creating between work and family time. These canvases are still waiting on me.

In researching this month’s series of blog posts, I read about tons of museums and art educators who blew my mind with their passion for healing the world through art. This flurry of do-gooders prompts me to wonder what difference I could possibly make. Sometimes, I just want to take a nap.

In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron explains virtue traps as when creatives sabotage themselves with the need to sacrifice their own well being in an effort to serve others. We give until there is nothing left to give. I have personally struggled with burnout and know I am not alone. It’s time we consider self care as essential.

What I hope to convey through this series of blog posts is that it is ok to have days when you’re just getting by and don’t feel so fabulous. We are grieving losses and need to give ourselves time to heal. As a field, we need to invest in self care because there is work to do ahead.

Join us for our #JournalCare 30 day challenge. Or don’t. You’re doing fine managing what you can today.

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References

Cameron, J. (2016). Artists way - 25th anniversary edition. Penguin Random House.

-MH

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