Summer 2020 is indeed the season of contradictions. COVID-19, with the ensuing quarantines and school closures, has led to a slew of cancellations and adjustments to day and sleepaway camps, travel plans, and summer jobs. These cancellations mean millions of students have more free time to pursue personal interests, hobbies, and art. In addition, worldwide protests for Black rights have awakened powerful feelings of grief, anger, determination, historical curiosity, and pride.
So: how do we take advantage of impulses to create and explore? Just because summer commitments have been cancelled doesn’t mean we have to surrender to boredom. Art, writing, and other creative outlets are excellent ways to stay purposeful and fulfilled throughout this strange summer — in fact, creative outlets allow us to activate under-used parts of the brain, decrease feelings of stress, and improve mood through the naturally stimulated flow of dopamine.
Below, we’ve created a list of ways you can use art to enrich your summer.
1. Arts and Crafts
Even the simplest arts and crafts can function as mood boosters by keeping your hands and mind busy on a pressure-free act of creation. A good place to start is to peruse your home looking for unused or recyclable materials.
Ask yourself: “what kinds of sculptures or pictures can I build out of these bits and pieces?” For example, old magazine ads can be cut up and glued together to form a collage; empty cans and egg cartons can be assembled into the shape of a robot or a suit of armor — not to mention all the elegant artworks you can make using a single sheet of paper. Check out this collection of paper craft ideas for inspiration.
2. Worlds of Sound
Not everybody prefers to create visually. Fortunately, there are so many worlds of sound and music open to exploration for all ages and experience levels. Is there a keyboard or piano or guitar lying around that hasn’t been used in months, or even years? This is the perfect time to practice, and even beginners can teach themselves for free using these DIY instrument-learning resources.
Even without access to a physical instrument, you can still give voice to your inner musician. Take a look at these free beatmaking and recording software programs that can help you produce instrumental beats, record your sung or rapped lyrics, or even just play around with bizarre sound effects!
3. Creative Writing
And then there’s writing. Although writing can feel grueling when you’re trying to complete a last minute homework assignment, creative writing exercises help us make sense of our own experiences, give life to daydreams, and develop a vision of the world around us. If you don’t like writing essays, try journaling about your experiences. Even if you’ve spent countless hours thinking about a particular memory, getting those thoughts down on paper can help you dig deeper, opening up new realizations.
If you don’t want to write about yourself, consider writing a short story. You don’t have to fill pages and pages with ink; many powerful stories can be told in less than a paragraph. Likewise, if you hate worrying about grammar and complete sentences, try poetry, which allows you to make your own rules! These poetry prompts can provide inspiration if you’re having trouble finding a topic. If poetry’s not your thing, consider writing rap verses or lyrics to an original song. The possibilities are endless — all you need is a pen or pencil and the desire to create.
The best and most honest writing often happens in workshop settings, where students can give and receive judgement-free feedback. Consider signing up for a Green Ivy mini-course in one of our offered subjects — poetry, creative nonfiction, dialogue writing — for a fun, growth-oriented writing experience suited to all ages.
Many people are quick to use phrases like “I’m a terrible artist. Somebody else should do this part.” Even if you haven’t been trained in the visual arts, that does not mean that visual art is off limits! You don’t need fancy paints or thirty-piece charcoal pencil kits to enjoy drawing.
Sketching pushes your brain to think in unfamiliar ways, helping to stimulate memory and relieve stress. Dreams, memories, and fantasies can be frustratingly hard to put into words; why not draw them instead? Check out these “Free Online Drawing Classes” for a place to begin!
5. Digital Art
There exists an unfortunate misconception that computer work is purely technical, devoid of curiosity, and committed to efficiency, rather than creativity. As millions of digital artists and designers can attest, however, the keyboard and computer screen can become powerful outlets for self-expression.
Graphic design and other modes of digital art offer creative alternatives for students who feel most in their element when working with tech. There are plenty of ways to access these skills using a computer or tablet. For example, Khan Academy’s Pixar in a Box offers free tutorials on various animation effects and techniques. A wide range of graphic design courses are available for free, regardless of experience level!
These are just a few possible ways to focus on your creative powers this summer. Everybody has modes of expression available to them; creativity is a way of living.
How are you using creative expression to empower your summer? Let us know your ideas!
At Green Ivy Educational Consulting, we’re committed to helping students pursue creative endeavors that focus on self-growth, personal exploration and creativity. Our Summer 2020 mini-courses for middle school and high school students include a self-identity course, logic games, creative non-fiction, poetry, dialogue writing (for all aspiring playwrights and screenplay writers) as well as our 8, 12, and 15-session intensive writing workshops. For more information, visit our Summer 2020 mini-courses or writing coaching.