Student Life

Waste Not

The Good News Story

By Wren Mann @D0llsh03s

I’ve always thought that we put too much pressure on ourselves to create things, to be “productive” during times of break. And Sydney’s most recent 2021 lockdown is a great example of this. I’m constantly filled with ideas about what important documentarian art needs to be made or should be made. But staying home is exhausting. Working and studying at this time is exhausting. Lockdown is exhausting.

So I’m getting rid of the shoulds and oughts and replacing them with wants and whims.

Art is still a really healthy way to unwind and process your emotions. And yes, bringing a pen to paper and drawing or writing can often scratch that itch, but recently I was looking for a more involved project that was still pretty quick and self-contained.

So if you ever find yourself feeling really creatively charged, and just missing the utensils, here are some pretty quick creative exercises that you can try with tools that you might already have around.

Decorating your Delivery bags/boxes

An Uber Eats bag decorated with stickers and drawings of stars

Be the talk of the town by giving your delivery bags a makeover, and showing them off during your next trip to Woolies.

I used stickers, a fineliner pen and some plastic stars that I glued on with good old elmer’s school glue from the grocery store. I probably spent 2 hours on it, while I was on a Discord call and listening to some music. It was nice busywork—something for my hands to do.

A box from an online order with geometric and spiralling patterns drawn in a black marker.

The box was from an online order, and during my lunch break in my TAFE class I just sat on my balcony, listened to music, and drew some designs using a sharpie. Now it houses snacks that I keep on my desk. :^)

Painting with turmeric, black tea, or eyeshadow

A simple portrait painted with black tea on a piece of paper, and another page covered in lines and squiggles where I tested the pigmentation.
A few paintings of vases, one with a flower, painted with turmeric mixed in water, and underneath another testing sheet.

These ones were really fun—I spent the night listening to medieval tavern music and painting on paper using black tea (2 teabags for better pigmentation) and turmeric (a few tea spoons in a mug mixed with hot water). I used a paint brush but if those aren’t available to you, you can drip the pigments, drag it using string, use your hands or make your own paintbrush using a pencil, tape, and whatever fibres you can find!

A test sheet of colours, and a painting of 3 layers of mountains.

This exercise is messier and much more experimental than the others—try using clear glue and white glue, experiment with matte and glitter shadows, and with how much shadow you use. You can also build up multiple layers of opacity to create a really pretty shifting effect.

Making a sketchbook with recycled paper

A sketchbook bound with string, the paper made of old envelopes and other recycled paper.

I really love the look of these. I bound recycled paper, medication packets and envelopes together with pretty thread, effectively sewing the spines together. Eventually, I want to create a bunch of these and sew them together into one big multimedia journal. Ones this size, however, are perfect for slipping in your bag and carrying with you.

All in all, these works are far from being my best, but making art simply in the hopes of superseding your last work is a bit of a fruitless pursuit in my opinion. Sometimes I just want to spend 4 hours listening to medieval tavern music and playing with eyeshadow and glue, like a joyous 4 year old who’s just discovered a box of stickers. 

So get creative, see what you can come up with, and make sure to enjoy yourself.

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