1. Look through your old travel pictures. Choose a place or landscape that was particularly memorable or beautiful, a place that calls to your heart and spirit, and draw it. Add details from your imagination. Exaggerate the colors. Play with the composition. If you like the sketch, use it as a model for a painting or more complete drawing later on.

2. Find your favorite children’s book, or perhaps your child’s favorite book. Make drawings inspired by your favorite pages. What other scenes could you add with the characters? Image your own continuation of the storyline and draw as you create your own narrative.

3. Time to pull out your paints and mix up new colors, just for the fun of it! Explore what you like intuitively. It doesn’t have to be perfect! If you create a shade you really like, write down its “ingredients” for future use.

4. In 1913, artist Marc Chagall created arguably his most well-known work, Paris Through the Window. The painting is comprised of both actual and fantasy imagery. The Guggenheim describes aspects of this piece as a “mediate between dual worlds- interior versus exterior space, past and present, the imaginary and the real. In paintings such as these it is clear that the artist preferred the life of the mind, memory, and magical symbolism over realistic representation.”

During this time of global uncertainty and crisis for many, what does the view look like out of your window? Start by sitting by your “window,” whether it be an actual window, computer screen, newspaper, iPhone, or TV, and drawing what you see. Let thoughts pop into your head. Write them down even if they seem random or irrelevant. Let these imagined thoughts translate into your drawing if it seems appropriate. What images come to mind at this current time?

5. Through her work, Kiki Smith explores the human condition and its relationship to nature:

“Over the years, she has developed a uniquely blended form of storytelling that incorporates experiences and trauma drawn from her own life. In order to do this, she combines symbolic imagery from art historical and mythological legends with elements of the natural world and allusions to her own religious background. The result is a collection of eclectic symbols, which subtly allows Smith to articulate the condition of man and our perilous relationship with the planet, a concern underlying her work. Although Smith is not ostensibly engaging with political sensibilities, through the poetry of her artwork, she quietly responds to the ecological crisis we are now faced with.” – Zoe Hind, Modern Art Oxford

What words would you use to describe the human relationship to the natural world? How do you relate to nature personally? Do you feel that it has changed recently or is changing?

On a day that allows for it, go outside (or sit by an open window) and draw your response to one or all of the questions above.

6.  Alma Thomas was an influential Expressionist painter and art educator. She gained recognition and fame later on in life, getting her national debut at the age of 80. She was one of the first African American women to break into the world of Modern Art as an abstract artist. She wouldn’t accept any barriers or expectations placed on her or her work, and her color field, geometric minimalist paintings were finally recognized for their energy and genius within her lifetime.

Create your own color field with a Thomas-inspired collage! You can use construction paper or other colorful paper, or markers and colored pencils. Divide your paper up with a few lines to create a composition. It can be a simple landscape, a basic shape or something purely abstract. Assign each section a color. When thinking about colors to choose from, ask yourself: which colors would stand out next to each other? Which colors would create a subtle shift in tone? Do I want my collage to be bold or delicate, busy or calm?

Choose your colors based on the questions above (or others you might think of), cut into small rectangles and fill in the sections of your paper, leaving a little white space between each shape until your collage is complete!

Images by Alma Thomas

7. Sonia and Robert Delaunay were early 20th Century artists known for pioneering a style of Cubism called Orphism, which focused on pure abstraction and vibrant, contrasting colors. Their paintings often consisted of interlocking and overlapping shapes and patches. Sonia, a Ukrainian-born Russian artist, got the inspiration for their famous painting style from a traditional Ukrainian patchwork blanket she was making for her son. She realized how the arrangements of material mirrored Cubist concepts. She applied the process of designing the quilt to other objects and paintings.

Try painting or drawing your own Delaunay-inspired piece using a ruler, circular object for tracing, pencil, eraser, colored pencils or paints. Decide on a few circle shapes for your composition and trace them lightly on your paper. They can be overlapping or side by side, different sizes or same size, half circles or full circles. Use the ruler or smaller circular objects to break up your shapes into smaller sections. For instance, you can create rings inside a circle or use the ruler to divide it into intersecting lines. If you feel like your paper is too busy, try eliminating or erasing parts of your design. A line cutting through the other shapes does not necessarily need to span across the paper.

Choosing colors: Pick a few neutral tones like shades of gray, and pair them with bright, contrasting color pairs. The Delaunays often used complimentary colors together for maximum visual effect, like blues and oranges, reds and greens, purples with yellows. Pick at least 5-6 shades in addition to neutral tones. Fill in your color patches! Make sure that touching shapes don’t repeat a color. You can decide which shades should stand out more in your picture by using brighter, contrasting tones. Use subtle or neutral shades for the parts of the composition you want to fade into the background.

Images (top to bottom) by Sonia Delaunay and Robert Delaunay