So, it has been what feels like a LONG time inside, right? The upside is that the longer I am at home, the more I've funneled my creative energy into arts and crafts. I find it so soothing to work with my pens, paints, pencils, and inks again. Arts and crafts projects have always been comforting to me because when my hands are busy (and covered in colors!) I find myself decompressing and relaxing.
Rachel (friend, MSA office mate, and amazing person in general) had some really insightful thoughts on these sorts of feelings that directly relate to her own personal story of dealing with difficulties stemming from situations beyond control:
When the COVID-19 quarantine started, I noticed myself not feeling nearly as freaked out as many of my friends and family members did. I quickly realized it was because things felt much like they did when I was in chemo with an extremely suppressed immune system. Extra care had to be taken with food (produce) to ensure it was safe. I couldn't be around many of my family or friends who potentially had even an inkling of a cold. Compulsive disinfection of surfaces. I was so tired, I couldn't do much more than work, nap, eat, watch TV, and maybe read or fiddle with a puzzle. I was lonely. And, boy, was I anxious.
Or perhaps you are heads-down, in full-on survival mode, because your situation includes children or other souls to care for or a job that puts you on the front lines of all this (or both.) There's a lot of that in the cancer world, as well. The challenges are too big to reckon with, so you stuff all of your fears away and just keep trudging forward.
This is a difficult time for all of us.
While I don't claim to have all the answers (by a long shot!) I wanted to share something that helped/helps me find solace -- ART! Ok, in my case calling it "art" would be a stretch, so let's say creation. Our emotions need an outlet, and channeling your inner creator can be an extremely powerful way to express, calm, and ground yourself. The real beauty is that none of it has to be good; it just has to be... out!
Since my stash of art supplies hasn't yet expanded much beyond a few free pens from the bank, a very old box of crayons, and some scraps of paper, I asked our resident artist, Megan, to share some of her favorite art boxes. Whether you're a total newbie feeling intimidated about how to even begin or you're a regular Picasso looking to play with some new tools, she's got you covered.
My favorite art supply subscription boxes for traditional art mediums:
The Cost: $25 per month for the Basic Box, $35 per month for the Premium Box. Subscribe here!
FYI: It looks like currently, new subscriptions are sold out. Many of the previous month's boxes are still for sale at the subscription cost as single purchases here, so you can still join in on the SketchBox fun.
ACTIVE DEAL: Get 50% off your first box of a 3, 6, 12 month subscription
Why I Love It: I have loved every single box I have gotten so far from this sub! It is more focused on sketching materials (think pens, pencils, inks, and paper) but there are always surprises like watercolor tubes, sketching accuracy tools, and more that make this perfect for anyone looking to flex some creative muscle.
Want to see more? Read our SketchBox reviews!
The Cost: $24 per month or $39 for the Premium Box. Save with longer subscriptions. Subscribe here!
Why I Love It: Art supplies AND a sweet treat? Sign me up. I love how varied the items in this subscription can be, which allows me to try out so many new brands and mediums! I also love the unexpected products that come in this sub, like chunky pastels, Japanese marker pens, and more!
Want to see more? Read our ArtSnacks reviews!
My picks for guided craft projects:
The Cost: $65 per month with registration open between the 10th-20th of each month. Subscribe here!
ACTIVE DEAL: Get 25% off your first box!
Why I Love It: Each of these boxes includes some of the most high-quality tutorials and supplies I have seen in a box! If you love variety, this is a great choice. Expect anything and everything from flower pressing to giant knitting, floral embroidery to ceramics.
Want more info? Read our Crafter's Box reviews!
The Cost: $19.95 per month. Save with longer subscriptions Subscribe here!
ACTIVE DEAL: Save 50% off your first box. No coupon needed - just use this link.
Why I Love It: Kids have lots of feelings right now too, and this box is focused on getting them crafting and creating. Geared toward ages 9-16+ (but utterly enjoyable for anyone!) this is a perfect subscription if you are looking for a creative family break from some screentime.
Want more info? Read our Doodle Crate reviews!
Art Supply Sets and How to Use Them
Not really ready to commit to a full-blown subscription but still wanting to invest in some supplies? I have a few suggestions!
Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Set - Buy a similar set here for $18.76
If I could only choose one type of supply or tool right now, it would be a watercolor set. Why? Watercolors are unpredictable. I used to HATE them because they are hard to control and I can be a control freak. After some time, I realized there was something really freeing about having my hands loose on the reins. The paints mixed with the water and just did whatever came naturally. There was something mesmerizing and meditative about the whole process. And it was always somehow beautiful if I just let go and went with the flow. It was very freeing and actually a pretty perfect analogy for the stress and anxiety I know loads of people are feeling right now. Watercolors are also perfect for beginners as well as the more advanced painter. Breathe. Paint. Flow.
Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paints - Buy a set of 48 colors here for $67.98. (There are also smaller sets!)
Acrylics are affordable, fun to mix, and dry quickly. Just mixing the colors is relaxing in itself. You can also use them to paint on most any surface you want, so if you don't have loads of canvas (or want to buy any) they are a really fun way to get into painting without a lot of money. I personally like to paint on wood panels, old canvas dropcloths, glass, and any other random surface I can find. Heck, you can even use these to paint on your walls if you want to get really wild!
These inks are really great if you would like a versatile sort of medium to play with. You can use them for drawing with a pen, calligraphy, use them with a brush directly out of the bottle, or add water and use them like watercolor paints. When they dry down, they become permanent, meaning you can do some really cool things with layers. They feel a little bolder than watercolors too, so if you like the idea of a fluid paint to play with but you are craving something brighter, try these for sure!
Side note: I had been PINING over this set for a few months, but avoiding buying in the name of being "practical." Well, recently I opened a random delivery box and realized Marne had mailed these to me as a gift, just to be kind and amazing. Did I cry in my hallway? Yeah! It was SO thoughtful.
How have you been using art to express yourself? What are your favorite ways to create?