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Making art that no one sees

We recently got back from a two week holiday in Cornwall, and before we left, my wife and I decided to take a break from social media and emails. We removed from our phones all icons which spit out numbers in red dots and made a pact not to touch them until we got back. It’s something we’ve done on holidays before and have always found it refreshing to properly disconnect from what’s going on at home and get some perspective. Recommend it.

What stood out to me this holiday was that I found it hard initially to stop thinking about ‘sharing’ stuff. I’m definitely not a social media addict, and I don’t check everything all the time, but I realised that as someone who posts quite a lot of images, I regularly think ‘how can I share this?’ 

That’s not a bad question in itself, but it can be unhealthy if it’s the main thing you have on your mind when you see something interesting. If you’re looking at a breathtaking sunset and are thinking ‘how can I Instagram this?’, you’re probably not enjoying the moment as much as you could be. And thinking too much about how people will react to your work before you’ve even started, can be a real creativity killer. 

So on this social media free holiday, I decided to make art that no one would see, to make drawings and paintings, and then throw them away. It was actually quite hard at first, I felt like I was ‘wasting my time’ and being very unproductive, but after a while I learned to enjoy the process and found it life giving.

I listened to music and wrote down thoughts and prayers, sometimes on top of each other. I reminded myself that God was watching, and could make sense of it all, even if I couldn’t. And most of all I began to enjoy drawing again.  Shame I can’t show you what I came up with.

Now I’m back into normal life it’s a lot harder to make space for unproductive art. There are always more important things I should probably be doing. But when I do make some space I never regret it, and am always reminded why I enjoy what I do.