Bring your creativity to life while navigating this global pandemic – art in the time of quarantine.
This Art in the time of quarantine post is written by Sarah Stieber. Read more about her below.
All I can say for now is that I am a HUGE FAN of Sarah, her art, and everything that she is accomplishing through her creative (and incredible) talent (and acumen)!
The Five Stages of Quarantine Explored Through Art
Five weeks ago when I realized I needed to go home and stay in quarantine, my first and loudest concern was “HOW AND WHERE AM I GOING TO PAINT!?”
I’m embarrassed to admit this is where my head went with all of the very real and scary things I could have been focused on, but when my fight or flight kicked in, art supplies were my top priority.
I made a tear-streaked final visit to my beloved art studio and loaded my supplies into my truck to head home and get to work.
Now I know: In a crisis, I may get eaten by the proverbial tiger but I’ll go down painting.
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Hi, I’m Sarah Stieber, a painter based in San Diego, California. I’ve spent the better part of 32 years creating art to understand, navigate, and manifest my life, and COVID-19 is no exception.
Below I’ll show you how I’ve turned lemons into an art residency, curating an at-home art studio and creating artwork to reflect my personal process of navigating this global pandemic.
How does this (art in the time of quarantine) apply to you?
While we are all maintaining distance and may feel isolated, the world is more unified in the current circumstance than ever before.
A creative practice (you do not need to be a trained artist or an artist at all to be creative) can help us bridge the gap by making us feel more connected to our inner world and more connected with our universal experience.
I hope this post will inspire you to explore your creativity and will make you feel more connected. Make sure to check out the hot tips about practicing creativity in stage 3!
The art studio
My partner Chris’s brother flew in from New York to stay with us during quarantine so with three people living and working out of a two-bedroom, navigating space was tricky.
I realized there is incredible natural light in the dining area (why had I never noticed that before?) so I moved the table on its side and claimed the space for myself.
Our new roommate and I found a roll of plastic in the garage and got to work transforming the dining room into my new art studio. Here is a timelapse of the transformation.
The Five Stages of Quarantine Through Art
Below are my “Five Stages of Quarantine” with the new artwork I’ve created to match.
1. Empathy DURING QUARANTINE
At the beginning of Stay in Place, my mind was a broken record of concern for everyone. I would see a random woman cross the street or walk by a house whose inhabitants I didn’t know and harp over how they were faring.
I felt overcome by the pain, suffering, and confusion of friends, family, and complete strangers and I tried to express that heartfelt empathy in “I Feel You”.
“I Feel You”, 48” x 48”, acrylic on canvas
2. Anger and overwhelm during Quarantine
My phone has become a carrier of bad and then worse news about COVID-19 and the state of the world.
While social media does offer gratifying connectivity, I have felt myself getting sucked into manically checking and scrolling.
“News Blues” explores the constant and overwhelming exchange that so many of us are experiencing through our phones.
“News Blues”, 24” x 18”, Acrylic on Canvas
3. Creativity During Quarantine
This tape painting is about creativity, letting what you see and hear flow through you; from your hands into the world.
I’ve heard that creativity needs constraints to thrive and I couldn’t agree more.
Here are my artistic constraints during COVID-19 and how they have become creative strengths:
1) I can’t collaborate with outside photographers and models
This has prompted me to use images from past photoshoots in new ways and arrange my own photoshoots in our backyard with my roommates and what I have in my closet.
2) I am limited to the materials I have on hand or what I can order
I have discovered and become obsessed with new mediums. I have been painting with tape, bejeweling face masks, and making beads out of paper.
3) I am working from home rather than my art studio
Seeing my work in a home environment has inspired my work to be more “design” focused. Having my art supplies at home, I am able to make art on any surface. I’ve painted cabinets and taped doors! Watch my home projects here.
4) Shipping artwork is difficult
I have gotten creative with my business, offering interest-free installment plans so I can hold onto my new work to ship out after my upcoming summer show and stay home to stay safe and focus on creating.
These “problems” have led to one of the most creative times in my artistic development. When we are up against barriers, we are forced to create new pathways and connections we didn’t see before. Creative problem solving IS creativity, on and off the canvas.
Tips for being creative during Quarantine:
To be creative, simply follow your curiosity.
Never taken that path on your daily walk? Wondering how soy wax candles are made? Curious about growing your own herbs? Considering what you can make for dinner with what you’ve got in the pantry? Creativity comes from taking your small curiosities seriously and putting one foot in front of the other.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says:
“Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting…”
Passion is rare; curiosity is every day”
To get your creativity flowing:
- Do a home project. Put up shelves, hang artwork, or organize your closet. Watch my home projects here.
- Make something with the materials you find around your house. You don’t need “art supplies” to make something. What can you create with masking tape, cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, and a lightbulb?
- Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and doodling will spark new ideas.
“Rachel”, 12” x 12”, Tape on Panel. Watch the tape process here.
4. Strength and acceptance during quarantine
I have felt connected to and supported by my family during this time.
I wanted to create “Social Distancing” to offer an empowered vision of us as COVID superheros repelling the dangers in the world.
“Social Distancing”, 36” x 30”, Acrylic on Panel
5. Mindfulness and joy during quarantine
Every day during quarantine we have practiced yoga in our backyard.
This luxury has brought a newfound appreciation for nature and a resurgence in my love of yoga. I have begun to notice and appreciate the little things, like rainbows in neighbors’ windows and the clouds in the sky.
The slowing of time and the halting of constant plans, meetings, and obligations have eased a panic I didn’t realize I carried with me in my former busy life.
With each day exactly like the next, I am more able to observe my mind and learn that when I am in a funk it is my mindset, more than my experience, that is guiding my moods.
This radical life alteration has taught me to slow down and practice mindfulness and gratitude.
“Rainbow Yogi”, 12” x 12”, Tape on Panel
Guest Author and Artist, Sarah Stieber’s Bio
Contemporary artist Sarah Stieber’s style of Electric Realism is a stunning amplification of real life, using a bejeweled palette of brilliant hues and evocative energy to explore a spirited reality. A spectacle of saturated colors, her paintings are a kaleidoscope to her world of wishful seeing, magnifying the human experience with dazzling color too often hidden in plain sight.
Over the past three summers, Sarah has produced “Stieber Summer Gallery”, a highly anticipated interactive pop-up gallery experience in San Diego with her paintings, installations, and films.
Her artwork was spotlighted at the “San Diego Dreaming” exhibition at the Oceanside Museum of Art and she was featured during Art Basel at Spectrum Miami in 2017, 2016, and 2014. In 2017 Stieber was recognized by CBS’ On Mogul as one of “15 Female Artists You Need to Know from Miami Art Week”.
Notable commissions include the centerpiece paintings for Courtyard Marriott San Diego and Springhill Suites by Marriott in Oceanside, and the twenty-five-foot rooftop mural at the Porto Vista Hotel in San Diego. Stieber was the featured artist of Art San Diego in 2017 and Artwalk San Diego in 2016, and was awarded “Best in Show” at La Jolla Art Festival in 2015.
Publications include “Collector’s Focus: Figurative Art” in American Art Collector Magazine, a “One on One” interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Poets and Artist’s “10 Unforgettable Paintings from 2017”, and Buzzfeed’s “50 badass Figurative Painters You Need to Follow on Instagram”.
Stieber has received cover features in the San Diego Downtown News, San Diego Uptown News, San Diego Daily Transcript, San Diego CityBeat, Voice of San Diego, San Diego Reader, and Bogamia Art and Fashion Magazine, Miami.
Stieber’s work has appeared in art publications American Art Collector Magazine and Beautiful Bizarre Magazine and she has appeared on the CW6, Fox5, NBC news, and on John Dalton’s “Gently Does it” podcast.
Thank you so much for sharing your gift and inspiration with us, Sarah!
“The art of a people is a true mirror to their minds.”