Make Art Where You Are with What You Have

Teresa Cochran | Artist to Artist | March 31, 2020

At home with more time on your hands than usual? You are not alone! Well, you may very well be alone, or at least “alone with your family,” and a lot of other people are having the same experience. Want to take this time to make art, but you’re not sure you have the “right” materials?

You Have The Tools

Fear not! (That is some high-quality general advice, but also specific to this situation.) It turns out that art of all kinds—visual, musical, video, and performing—can generally be made right where you are with what you have on hand. As a matter of fact, a time-tested art school assignment is to limit the materials you can use in a project because it helps your mind  work more creatively. 

Remember that the concept or message behind your work is often much more important than the materials you use to create it. Sometimes when you limit the resources available—and focus more deeply on the meaning—you’ll make your best work! Even if you are not creating world-class art with pantry items, challenging times are best met with creative minds. Creating art is a fantastic way to keep your mind engaged and your anxiety at bay.

Want some help on how to infuse your artwork with meaning and how to prepare art for the Engage Art Contest? Download our Engage Your Own Art-venture E-course!

In this post, we’re going to provide some “starter” ideas on how to make art where you are with what you have. Show us what you make and pass your own “make do” (or is that Make! Do!) ideas on to other artists in the comments below!

Visual Art Ideas

Sticks and stones—Step 1: Go outside and collect things. Willow branches? Stones? Sticks? Leaves? Yes. Step 2: Make art.

Paper collages—If it was good enough for Matisse, then it’s good enough for us! Even in the age of COVID19, the junk mail still comes, which means we all have colorful paper at our disposal. How can you cut, layer, and arrange it in a meaningful way?

Macaroni, buttons, sand—You can literally use any object you have a lot of, or you can use a mixture of everyday materials, to create an image or a silhouette. You don’t even have to glue them down. You can just take a picture of the finished design.

Paper sculptures—These tutorials use paper to create sculptures. How might you use newspaper, old books, scrapbook paper, or junk mail to create your own sculpture?

Music Ideas

Sing with yourself … or with others who aren’t near you!

Make music with everyday objects

Record and edit on your computer or phone.

Write a song and then have a jam session

Video & Performing Arts Ideas

Get organized!

Your surroundings are your stage. Think about how much money studio execs spend to make a home look real. You don’t have to do that! Do you have an uncluttered area that will work for your needs? Should you incorporate your sofa into your dance, or make a music video that highlights you scrambling eggs? Sure! Why not? At what time is the light perfect for video on your deck or in your yard? Could you hang a sheet and use a greenscreen app? Perhaps!

Non-specific object play & miming—Remember when the floor was lava and pillows were rocks? You can still take household items and lead your audience to experience them as something else. That piece of fabric or scarf can become a superhero cape or a tablecloth—or long hair or a baby blanket or a skirt—in the blink of an eye. And don’t get me started on all the things an empty paper towel tube can “become.” Whatever prop you need, just look around! You’re likely to find it (or a willing substitute) somewhere close at hand. And if you don’t find that elusive prop, do what every great artist does … pretend. An air telescope or air guitar can work just as well as the real thing when it comes to storytelling. 

Wherever you are riding out COVID19, take some of your extra energy and time to be creative. Try something new, finish a project, or perfect a skill and show it off! It’s a great time to learn to collaborate at a distance or to do some fun creative art making with your family …. right where you are, with whatever you have at hand. Be sure to share your creations with us on our social media channels by tagging us @EngageArtContest in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Submit Your Artwork Today!

Curious? Interested in submitting artwork to our contest? Know someone who might be? Through April 14th, 2022, the Engage Art Contest is open to the whole world! Get your foot in the door by claiming your Artist Page now!