Remembering to Play
And what did you notice in nature?
After weeks of not being able to do much outside, my children were feeling the pressure of lockdown, they were bickering along and I could feel their spirits were strained.
One day last week when the restrictions had been lifted just a little, I noticed people were sitting on the beach again. Not many, but until then the beach had been okay for walking on, or alongside it on the promenade, but nobody was just sitting there, no blankets or beach towels. Buckets and spades a definite no. But that day was different. After splashing in the waves for a while we were walking back and they came across a large abandoned series of sandcastles, made by hand, around a ditch. They looked at me, please?
I sat down, happy to relish the view for a while and be outdoors in the beautiful expanse of sand, sea and sky. For around an hour my kids jumped, rolled, buried each other and...laughed. I wanted to cry for the pleasure they felt at a simple act being permitted to them again, at how lucky we are to have the beach and how for weeks it had both been there but not there. We could touch it but not use it, or the other way around.
As we walked home, my children enjoying a sweet treat I’d brought along; I watched them, every inch of them covered in sand, in their clothes, hair, some of it stuck to them where they’d been in the sea, I felt a heaviness had been lifted, a normality returned - they were able, in a place which it was familiar for them to do so, to play again.
I realised how easy it is to forget how to play and how, as adults, we must remind ourselves regularly not to forget that.
This weeks challenge
There are unlimited options to have creative fun, you may have your own ideas but here are a few suggestions:
Cover a table in paper. A paper tablecloth, the back of an old roll of wallpaper, newspaper will do, whatever you have that works. Get out the things you can find to make marks with:
Pens, pencils, paint (any paint you have to hand - I’ve mentioned the old emulsion tester pots before), food colouring works. Pastels, crayons, chalk or charcoal, glue and glitter...anything! Then put on your favourite music, grab a drink - all drinks are allowed - and make marks. Anything you like as long as it is fun. Cover the table, fill up the space, let yourself go. This is a lovely thing to do with the other people in your home or by yourself for some ‘me time’.
If you have the space, indoors or out, try Pollocking. In a Jackson Pollock style. Put a large piece of paper on the floor, or a dust sheet or old bed sheet, tape together leftover wallpaper or sheets of newspaper, leftover pieces of wood or vinyl or even carpet. Drip the paint on it, make patterns, mix colours, do hand prints or foot prints roll around in it if that feels good! Let yourself go and immerse yourself in the playfulness you had forgotten was inside you, get in touch with that abandonment of responsibility, even if it feels strange to start with, you will soon get into the flow of it. Say goodbye to any inhibitions. Just go with it.
If you have an exterior wall or fence, colour it in with chalk. Coloured chalk is good for lots of things and you can buy it in the supermarket very cheaply. Go wild with patterns and colours and feel the breeze and the sun while you do it, the rain will eventually wash it away, and then you can do it again. Without chalk you can even use a paintbrush and water to make patterns and marks; take a picture before it dries, and when it does, make another one!
If you don’t have access to those possibilities then get colourful with scraps of paper, old envelopes and packaging. Rip them up, make a picture with the pieces, take a photo, rearrange them and take more photos, make it into a story or recreate a fun time you remember and imagine you are back there enjoying it again. Feel the joy and know it will return.
However you interpret this week's challenge, the main thing is to lift your spirits and let in a carefree moment or ten. Or more. It is easy right now to feel that this is somehow indulgent or unnecessary but after seeing the difference in my children, playing at the beach the other day, I believe it is essential. Allowing ourselves to be creative and to play will boost our spirits and help us to get through the times in our days and weeks which require our attention in other ways we are still not accustomed to.
Last Week’s Challenge
I’ve done this the other way round this week. My challenge for Noticing Nature was great for me. The timing was brilliant for my garden. I spent a beautiful morning sitting in my vintage floral garden chair which belonged to my grandmother; sketchbook and pencil in hand, drawing the yellow poppies which sprung up last week, my children engrossed in a make believe game and no washing line in sight. My roses flowered and I stood still sketching them as the sun sank low and the oven was warming; the honeysuckle bloomed and buzzed with bees as I whizzed down a scribble of their choice of arrangement across the wall. Even my courgettes (unlike the tomatoes) are winning the snail war and have several large, yellow, promising flowers too. I’m absolutely loving the unfolding of my garden and I hope you enjoyed embracing your natural surroundings too. I’d love to know what corner of the world you are in and what nature you have saved to paper this week.
You can get in touch by:
Post your work and tag me on instagram @attentive_artist
or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or join the Attentive Art Group on Facebook
I"M SPEAKING AT THE WELLBEING CONFERENCE THIS WEEKEND - FIND OUT MORE AND GET TICKETS HERE
I sincerely hope you have the most creative fun this week. Let go and go wild!