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Take Heart, Take Up Art part one: What to make?

For many of us, with a bit of extra time on our hands, the temptation is to turn to art – picking up paintbrushes and dusting off easels (and then realising that the dusty easel was something of an artwork in and of itself…) Whether you’re into the technical aspects of photography or the expressive joy of painting, we’ve rounded up our top resources for artists (both budding and in full flower). Today's post covers creative prompts, inspiration and ideas. (Parts 2 & 3 are on gaining new skills, and collaborating - be sure to subscribe to our Editor's Picks newsletter to be the first to hear when they're out!)

Part 1: What to make?

You’ve laid down your paper. You’ve sharpened your pencils. But what should you draw? Here are our favourite sources of regular, and unusual, prompts.

1. The OVADA Friday Brief

Here in Oxford, local gallery OVADA have launched a Friday Brief – each week, at 11am, a guest artist will set an accessible art brief, which will be released on their Instagram account. You then have until the following Wednesday to upload your piece to social media, and join the virtual exhibition. Previous tasks have been fun, family-friendly, and avant-garde – for example, fashioning a portrait from a piece of toast.

2. Noel’s Art Club

Noel Fielding (performer, presenter, Camden Leisure Pirate) may be known primarily for his comedy, but did you know that he’s also an accomplished painter, having exhibited in multiple galleries, and sold paintings through Saatchi? Well, with his artistic credentials, he’s now running an art club on Saturday afternoons via social media. Join between 3-5pm for the prompt, and join the virtual exhibition - all ages welcome.

3. Grayson’s Art Club

Channel Four has been one of the most responsive broadcasters in these strange times, launching topical shows to keep us cooking (Jamie Oliver’s Keep Cooking and Carry On), crafting (Kirstie Allsopp’s Keep Crafting and Carry On), and, now making art, with Grayson's Art Club. Hosted by eccentric ceramicist Grayson Perry, you can find the details for participating here (deadline midnight the Thursday before transmission), and catch the programme on Channel Four, Monday nights at 8pm. Watching him (literally) potter around his studio is very therapeutic.

4. Firstsite: Art Is Where The Home Is - Art packs for adults

Firstsite are normally promoting artists and putting on exhibitions, aiming to disrupt the way all of us see the world, using art. And don’t we need that now! They’ve got artists they regularly work with to put together Art Packs. Just sign up on their website and download them. They’re filled with suggestions for art projects you can do at home, with things you have around. But these are suggestions by real practising artists, and in some cases maverick thinkers. If you don’t want all your loo roll used in making a tower, or your cutlery laid out in shapes then vet first before you let the kids loose. That is to say, these are primarily activity packs for adults, not just colouring sheets for kids! But most activities are eminently suitable for the whole family.

5. #GetCreativeAtHome

The website Get Creative UK (sponsored by the Arts Council, the BBC, and other venerable institutions) collects literally hundreds of ideas for arty activities available to do at home. Including many ideas for repurposing the contents of your recycling (including fake stained glass and homemade juggling balls) – so a lack of materials shouldn’t be an obstacle!

Exhibitions and galleries

There are of course billions of artworks out there to be viewed, as even the most Luddite of museums have found ways to open up their collections to the world. In fact, you probably have access to much more art now than ever before. Even Oxfordshire Artweeks, normally an excuse to venture out into the farthest reaches of the county, is going online, with videos, tours, and plenty of live events as well as those permanently available to view. Don't worry - we're not going to list all the available galleries here! Suffice to say if you don't want to make art yourself, you can still enjoy plenty of other people's.

Whatever you get up to, stay well, and keep creating. We'd love to see what you make!

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