As our active role in solving the pandemic problem is being inactive and staying at home, beginner artists are turning to the canvas as an outlet. As Chicagoans, we’re constantly interacting with an environment that promotes creativity. While we’re at home, we can take a page out of artist Tony Fitzpatrick’s book and create work about the past, present, and hopes for the future.
Chicago-based artist Tony Fitzpatrick is best known for drawing, collages, and printmaking. His work is inspired by Chicago street culture – the things we see on our way to the bus, on the train, and outside our office windows. His work can be politically charged, or more focused on aesthetics. At its base, art is our interpretation or physical, emotional, and mental environment. While we’re disconnected from a lot of our regular coping skills, take a look around you and draw what you can see.
1. Grab some paper, size doesn’t matter. It can be big or small, lined or unlined, and some kind of writing utensil, like a pen or colored pencils.
2. Is there a spot you have been spending time in lately? Whether it is your kitchen table, backyard, or a bench in the park — go there.
3. There’s a reason you’ve been drawn to this place and we’re here to explore it. It could be as simple as a spot in the grass at your local park. It could be indoors in a room such as the living room. There could be a bookshelf with your favorite titles or plants that you’ve obsessively overwatered.
4. Take whatever it is your eye is drawn to in #3 and write it down on paper. If compelled to write words, journal. If courageous enough to draw, do so. Or do both! (If you’re stuck here, don’t fret. Look up, what do you see? Sky? Draw the clouds. A ceiling? Describe the light fixture. Turn your head a few degrees and repeat.)
5. You’ve just made your first sketch. This is yours. This is your interpretation of the world around you. You made this!
6. What to do from here is your choice. Whether you change your environment or revisit the same place the next day, keep sketching. No expectations but to observe and record.
7. (Optional) Expand your arsenal. Grab some old magazines and make a collage. Dig up colored pens or grab some paint from Blick and add/subtract color, merge mediums like pencil and pen, and keep going.
Tony Fitzpatrick likes to make “Lunch Drawings.” It’s his way of processing his day without any expectation but to observe and record what he sees, feels, and hears. Describe what’s on your plate, write about what you’ve seen others doing during quarantine, or draw the spring bulbs popping up in your backyard. When it comes to healthy coping mechanisms during a quarantine, we’re forced to push ourselves into new territory. But that’s nothing new for Chicago.