Inside creative minds during the solitude of self-isolation

Inside creative minds during the solitude of self-isolation

There’s something about solitude that gets the artistic juices pumping as quarantine ushers in a new wave of creative spirit. (Image source: Jess Martin)

By Nahum Gale | @NahumGale

Coronavirus has seemingly set a stigma that it is boring to be stuck inside with your thoughts … but what if that is the exact environment young creatives need in order to create?

It would seem the coronavirus pandemic has had its benefits as isolated people have either uncovered, rediscovered or allowed the artist inside them to blossom.

Although it may not be in everyone’s wheelhouse to suddenly start learning an instrument or reigniting a passion for painting, the creative depths folks have gone to is rather inspiring.

Sometimes all people need to create is a single observation into another’s process or mindset to also alight their own creative souls.

A ray of positive energy beats down on our society with every new word written and every new skilled learned.

I will be taking a deep dive into the self-isolated minds of various creators to inspire anyone out there to make their own time in quarantine a fulfilling one.

Emily Dorrestyn: “Song writing!”

Image source: Emily Dorrestyn

A student studying a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Counselling) at Tabor College, Emily Dorrestyn has spoken out on the surge of creative momentum isolation has sparked inside her.

“Throughout all of isolation so far, I’ve really wrestled with this whole ‘don’t waste this time’ attitude I’ve been hearing from people,” said Ms Dorrestyn.

“When I started to push back against the pressure to create in isolation, I started to actually feel creative.

“I chose to use how I was feeling to fuel my art; I chose to take the pressure away and be satisfied with any lyrics I could piece together; I chose to be satisfied with the possibility of coming out of isolation with absolutely nothing new or improved about me or my art.

“That’s when I actually felt inspired.”

Having a focus on worship music for her church, Ms Dorrestyn plans to debut her three-year project by the end of 2020: a complete recorded album.

“Being able to write songs in isolation has been so enjoyable and so fulfilling … I’ve started and finished three songs in isolation so far,” she said.

Ms Dorrestyn also noted how isolation has helped her confront thoughts and feelings in a creative manner.

Bailey Jeffrey: “I have mainly been painting, using acrylics and spray paints.”

Image source: Bailey Jeffrey

Victorian labourer and artist, Bailey Jeffrey, has taken his time in quarantine to explore new styles of his trade, including abstract.

“This isolation period has helped me refocus on what I want to create, for me, and not just for others to see,” Mr Jeffrey said.

Speaking specifically on what inspires him most, Mr Jeffrey said, “colour, emotions and opinions”.

“I love colour and, in a time where a lot of people are bored, making something exciting and colourful gives me a good feeling.”

“When two colours that you didn’t think would go together do, and there’s this strange relationship between them that just looks cool, the visual look of them together excites me.

“It inspires me to think how could I use these colours on a landscape? How could I use these colours to show emotions and how I feel?

“Emotion is another big inspiration; I want people to feel how I feel about landscapes and the power that’s in them.

“I want to influence their opinions in a nonverbal way, so they see the powerful yet gentle wind, the warm and energetic sun!

“I want [people] to feel this and let it affect them emotionally,” said Mr Jeffrey.

Jess Martin: “I have mainly been focusing on the medium of collage and free motion embroidery.”

Image source: Jess Martin

New South Wales creative artist, Jess Martin, has found solace in isolation with her artistic pursuits of collaging and embroidery.

“I find collage such a liberating artform as you never know what you will create and what will come out of each piece,” said Ms Martin.

“Free machine is also quite liberating and freeing, I often compare it to painting as it is like you are painting with thread.”

In terms of her own personal inspiration, Ms Martin cited a unique resource made possible by one of self-isolation’s most healing benefits: a good amount of sleep.

“My dreams have been quite inspirational,” she said.

“Getting a full night sleep and being able to dream has allowed me to think about different ideas and concepts to explore in my art.”

“I feel like I am wiping clean a busy chalkboard and working on all the things I never had time to or allowed myself to work on prior to isolation.

“It helps to appreciate the small things in life with everything moving a little slower.”

“I do not want to go back to the monotony of my usual life,” said Ms Martin.

“Isolation has made me want to appreciate my time more.”

Hanna Kingsmill: “I have begun writing the transcript for a children’s picture book.”

Outside School Hours Care educator and student studying a Bachelor of Primary Education (Honours), Hanna Kingsmill, was inspired to start a writing project after coronavirus cancelled her travel plans.

“I began writing after returning early from my last trip … so I guess my writing allows me to live vicariously through the characters,” said Ms Kingsmill.

Ms Kingsmill’s picture book centres on a young girl’s dream to explore the globe, with an aim to encourage children to dream big, follow their passion, and appreciate the planet.

“Writing about how incredible the world is also provides me with reassurance, [keeping] me optimistic about all of the wonderful things I will see and do post-isolation,” said Ms Kingsmill.

Ms Kingsmill plans to send her transcript to publishers post-lockdown.

“If that’s not successful, I might even create a one of a kind … self-illustrated, self-published, labour of love.

“I am [also] constantly throwing around the idea of starting a sustainable living and travel blog as I would love to try and get into travel writing,” said Ms Kingsmill.

Xanthe Midwinter: “I’ve started sewing, mainly making vintage clothes.”

Image source: Xanthe Midwinter

While studying a Bachelor of International Relations and a Bachelor of Languages, Xanthe Midwinter has rekindled a passion for sewing which she started at age 14.

“With isolation I have got so much time to make things, so I decided to buy some sewing patterns and fabric and I have sewn almost every day now,” said Ms Midwinter.

Speaking on the “therapeutic” and “nostalgic” nature of the art, Ms Midwinter said, “I find it very relaxing to just sit and sew all day; I do not have to think about anything else.

“It gives me a task to do that I know I enjoy and I am able to see it progress as I go,” said Ms Midwinter

“It reminds me of the times I spent with my great aunt, when she helped me with my more difficult sewing projects.”

With a desire to explore more vintage fashion, Ms Midwinter has even started investing in more original and recreational vintage pieces.

“I forgot how much I loved sewing and choosing textiles to work with,” said Ms Midwinter.

“I do not want to just sit at home and waste the day, so having a creative outlet like sewing helps me to feel as though I’ve accomplished something.

“It keeps my brain active.”

Menaka Thorogood: “During isolation, I have been focusing on my writing more.”

Mount Gambier primary school teacher, Menaka Thorogood, currently in the midst of writing her first novel, had only positive things to say on isolation’s freeing of time.

With less recreational activities to commit to, Ms Thorogood was finally able to take part in Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

During the event held in April, participating writers are tasked with penning 30,000 words for their novel.

“I was able to pump through the rest of my novel [which] now stands at over 95,000 words,” said Ms Thorogood.

“My plan is to finish the novel, continue with the series, and then post them onto my writing site.

However, her successes in isolation have not entirely prevented her from writer’s block, as Ms Thorogood said, “Some days I open my document and stare at it blankly.”

She finds that walking works as a cure to her writer’s block as it helps clear her mind.

“I am happy with how creative my work is, but I am always learning and growing with it and feel like I can do better,” she said.

Nathan Drewett: “I have begun writing short film scripts.”

A student studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media, Nathan Drewett’s prior interest in filmmaking has only strengthened during quarantine.

“[Screenwriting and filmmaking] is a common hobby for me,” said Mr Drewett.

“I started creating short films in 2015 when two of my best friends introduced me to the incredible world of film.”

“It definitely keeps me intellectually and creatively engaged,” he said, with specific emphasis on art’s role in self-isolation.

“Writing film scripts along with university work has sufficed in keeping me sane and hard-working.

Touching on what has continued to motivate him, Mr Drewett said, “My motivation [is] to see what I can get better at.

“I have a strong work ethic and would like to be great at a lot of things.

“The only way to find out if I have the potential to be great at something is to try it and see how far my creativity, interest and work ethic can take me.”

On top of that, Mr Drewett also cited content such as games, film, television shows and YouTube as powerful creative motivators… which, luckily, he has been able to consume a lot of lately.

Abaigh Curry: “I have concentrated on painting as a creative outlet through isolation.”

Image source: Abaigh Curry

A student studying Bachelor of Law, Abaigh Curry cited the act of painting as a means to practice patience and preciseness in a time of self-pressured socialising and studying.

“The act of painting is teaching me patience and compromise within myself on a very minor scale,” said Ms Curry.

“Painting allows for a transfer of where I would rather be to paper.

“This realisation of daydreams is comforting, especially when isolation often leaves the mind to be suppressed and enclosed, as well as the physical self.”

When considering the societal pressure of creating in isolation, Ms Curry had this to say: “[It is] highly unrealistic for the majority of society.

“[Some] still continue to work for their living, study or … simply do not have the resources to fund these new hobbies,” she said.

“I have attempted to reject this pressure by solely painting for myself when I feel like it, and I am very fortunate to have been able to afford materials and build a collection of paints and canvases prior to isolation.”

Ms Curry clearly states her actions of creativity come from a place of desire rather than necessity, as isolation continues to prove artist’s abilities to feel free in their expression.

Ella Maude Wilson: “I have taken up piano and sewing.”

Image source: Ella Maude Wilson

Emerging photographer and graduate of Bachelor of Contemporary Art, Ella Maude Wilson, has taken up not one, but two artistic hobbies to keep her sanity in isolation.

“I turned my focus to old hobbies,” said Ms Wilson, referencing her sewing and piano.

“It is not pieces I could play to an audience in a massive auditorium, or clothes that I could walk a Vogue runway in, but it is something that I did myself,” she said.

Ms Wilson spoke on the importance that creative hobbies picked up during isolation do not necessarily need to be assumed as talents people must commit to.

“For young people I feel that there is always added pressure when you are finding your feet, that if you are not doing something to further your career, why are you doing it in the first place?”

“That is a pressure I have certainly faced, so I have actually enjoyed this time making things just because I can.”


The artistic endeavours we pursue in isolation never need to be a serious commitment.

Instead, we should remove the pressure from ourselves to be productive and create because we have to, but instead be productive and create because we want to.

That is, after all, what art is; a sense of freedom and escapism, and in times of a global pandemic, we all may need just that.

One response to “Inside creative minds during the solitude of self-isolation”

  1. Painting with acrylics on canvas has been my isolation therapy. Never before pickup a brush, now never being able to put them back down. I have found a new place within myself and love it and the outcome of it.


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