Art State of Mind

What to Do with Your Time when in Quarantine? Tips from Art!

Magda Michalska 22 March 2020 min Read

Seriously, what should I do with my time if I’m in real quarantine and I cannot go out for two weeks? How to avoid going crazy without face-to-face contact with the human race? If you’re in a similar situation, here come a few of my quarantine tips from art.

Quarantine Tips from Art

Establish a morning routine

Eastman Johnson, Sunday Morning, 1866, New York Historical Society, US.

Spending hours in bed? No, no, no, wake up at the usual time, let the sunshine into your room, and get out of bed. I turn on salsa cubana to start my day with a positive vibe. Moving my hips and imagining I’m dancing with Patrick Swayze always puts a smile on my face.

Pajamas are a big no no

Childe Hassam, The Breakfast Room, Winter Morning, 1911, Worcester Art Museum, MA, US.

I don’t recommend making these two weeks a never ending weekend. It won’t pay off for your mental health and sooner or later you will turn into a mushroom. Wear tracksuits or elegant kimonos, but leave the pajamas in bed. It will make the distinction between daytime and nighttime clearer for your brain.

Enjoy long breakfasts

Quarantine? Tips from Art
Mela Muter, A woman smoking, 1940, Muzeum KUL, Poland.

I love having long breakfasts. I usually have them on Sundays only but these days I have them daily. I usually pick a 40 minute long podcast which I listen to as I eat (that’s for those who are alone in quarantine, otherwise, talk to your flatmates!) my fried eggs (or tofu), coffee, and perhaps a cigarette. Just simply listening to the podcast and looking out the window.

Gaze out upon the world

Quarantine? Tips from Art
Mary Cassat, Susan on a Balcony Holding a Dog, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

If you have a balcony, go out every hour for a couple of minutes. Put a jacket on, a scarf and look out on to the world. If you don’t have one, open up the window and start noticing the birds which fly around or little insects walking on the windowsill. Befriend them, talk to them. Look at the leaves beginning to burst from their buds or at cars passing-by. Breathe.

Count your toes. And recount them

Kerry James Marshall, Untitled Mirror Girl, 2014, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, IL, US.

I am a very restless being who cannot sit still longer than an hour but these days I catch myself more and more often just sitting and staring. I stare at my reflection in the mirror. I count my toes or look at the shape of my own nails. I study my scars. I track the direction in which my hair grows. I examine my teeth and gums. I guess it’s to make sure they’re all in place and I’m still myself.

Pamper your plants

Quarantine? Tips from Art
Henri Matisse, Flowers on the Windowsill, 1913, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

I love having plants in my flat but to be frank, I rarely take care of them. This is the moment to cherish them, so I dust the leaves and trim them, I water them, change the soil and, of course, play some Beethoven so they grow better.

Write a (gratitude) journal

Johannes Vermeer, A lady writing, c.1665 – c.1666, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, US.

Psychologists say it’s good to start writing a gratitude journal and update it every day to keep the spirits high. I would say that writing any journal is fine as it helps to let your fears and anxieties out. Nobody has to read it. In my journal I even write what I eat and what movies I watch and how they make me feel. Another quarantine tip from art, a really important one:

Make time off-screen sacred

Quarantine? Tips from Art
Marc Chagall, Paris Through the Window, 1913, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, NY, US.

You work remotely on your computer. You watch movies on your computer or tv. You browse Instagram on your phone. You FaceTime your friends on your phone. You read news on your phone. Before you know it, you end up spending the whole day in front of a screen. And it’s not good for your eyes, your brain or your mental health. Remember to plan your activities and to always spend some time, ideally 50% of the day, away from any screens. What to do then? See below.

Do new things

Quarantine? Tips from Art
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Portrait of a Young Girl Crocheting,
 1889, private collection.

Keeping busy is essential to maintain a sense of purpose, the driving force behind life. I have reluctantly decided to learn Spanish (still cannot get myself to do it) and my mum says she will start to crochet again. You don’t even need to look for an online course. Make a collage from old magazines, write letters to your lovers and friends, knit, make bread…

Cook creatively using all that’s in your pantry

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, The Cook, 1570, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden.

It has been proven that most people rely on 8 recipes that they know well and they end up cooking them all the time. I do it, but I am also a great enemy of food waste, so I decided to cook new recipes with the ingredients that have been gathering dust on my pantry shelves for way too long. Jars of chickpeas, cucumbers, peas, hold on! If you are not a master chef, treat it as a challenge: to learn how to cook.

Clean! Dust off the cobwebs and spring-clean.

Quarantine? Tips from Art
Camille Pissarro, Young Woman Washing Plates, 1882, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.

Most people do a serious clean-up in spring anyway. It’s time to refresh your winter wardrobe, open long-neglected closets, go through your collection of shoes, bags and ties. Washing windows to let more light in is definitely a good idea. And turn your washing machine on, now the right time to wash all those pairs of socks that have been piling up!

Move your body

Quarantine? Tips from Art
Rene Portocarrero, Young Woman Dancing in Cerro Interior, 1947, location unknown.

As I confessed at the beginning of this article, I dance by myself while listening to salsa. Being alone has one advantage in this instance at least, nobody is going to laugh at my dance moves! So turn up that old Micheal Jackson, Britney Spears, or Black Sabbath record and dance! If you prefer, you can lift weights, do some yoga, pilates, HIIT, whatever takes your fancy. What’s important is that you do it consistently, every day please!

Make a home spa

Pierre Bonnard, Mirror on the Washstand, 1908, Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia.

Do you have a pile of face masks that you bought, thinking that you’d one day have 30 minutes to yourself to use them? I do, and now I will finally turn myself into a Top Model as my face will soon be as smooth as a baby’s bum. Maybe you haven’t done your nails in ages? Or maybe you need to trim your beard? The moment has arrived. Make the most of it.

Phone everyone

Quarantine? Tips from Art
Richard Lindner, Telephone, 1966, Wikiart.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve called my old friends from university, friends from high school, and I’ve checked on my little cousin. I speak to my grandparents every second day and of course my parents and boyfriend. I recommend calling friends that you haven’t connected with in ages, colleagues from work, even your exes. No, not to kill the loneliness but just to make sure they’re safe and sound. And that they obey the quarantine rules!

These are my quarantine tips from art. Do you have your own? Share them with us!

Here’s a full list of our “Lockdown” home entertainment articles. Stay safe and #Stayhome!

7 Entertaining Art History Podcasts to Listen to

10 Best Movies Related to Art for Time Spent in Quarantine

The Best Art Videos for the Age of Quarantine

The Best of the Best Museums to Visit Virtually on Lockdown (Constantly Updated)

Lockdown Artsy Entertainment Toolkit

Virtual Art Repositories – Explore Endless Artworks from Quarantine

Theatre Plays, Opera and Music Online to Keep you Entertained During Lockdown

15 Artsy Books To Read During Self-Quarantine

What to Do with Your Time when in Quarantine? Tips from Art!

Art-Guide to Quarantine by DailyArt Magazine

Plague in Art: 10 Paintings You Should Know in the Times of Coronavirus

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