Courtesy of Sydney Mills

An illustration by Sydney Mills '21 is pictured above.

May 10, 2020

From Makeup to Drawing, Students Explore Artistic Outlets During Quarantine

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From sketching portraits of frontline workers to using makeup to draw flames on their eyelids, Cornellians are using some of their quarantine time to explore and create art.

Online platforms have allowed students to continue making and sharing their art, but isolation has interfered with collaborative art projects such as music groups.

Lindsey Forg ’22 has found that living at home has had both positive and negative effects on her ability to make music.

“I am spending more time on my own personal projects than I normally would. I have more time to practice solo viola, play guitar and sing,” Forg said. “I am missing a huge part of my life … I miss playing music with people. I had formed a band a few weeks before classes were cancelled, so I am missing playing with them.”

According to Forg, orchestra rehearsals now consist of listening to guest speakers virtually, including composers like Pulitzer prize winning David Lang and Gabriela Lena Frank.

“It’s not the same as getting to play and it is hard for people because we all signed up for orchestra because we wanted to play together, but it is really cool,” Forg said.

Despite the disruption to their lives, some students have found art to be a helpful outlet. For students whose artistic projects are more solitary, such as drawing, quarantine has been less disruptive to their creative ambitions.

Sydney Mills ’21 drew for an average of three hours a day in the three weeks before classes restarted — a continuation of her life-long dedication to art.

“17 out of the 20 years I’ve been alive, if I have time to draw, I’ve just drawn,” Mills said.

While living at home hasn’t kept Mills from drawing, the workload from her online classes has made finding time to draw more difficult.

“I think my professors figured we’d be dealing with less work, so they assigned slightly more work,” Mills said.“Needing to deal with that has been stressful, but I still occasionally have time to draw,”

Mills encourages anyone who is considering starting to draw during quarantine to get started.

“Definitely do it, it’s a lot of fun. It is good for relieving stress, and if you put your mind to it you can see a lot of improvement in a short amount of time, which can be motivational for you,” Mills said. “On the whole, art is an outlet.”

Like Mills, Leina Peterson ’22 has been drawing for as long as she can remember and finds drawing to be helpful during quarantine.

“Drawing is an escape,”  Peterson said. “Drawing lets me focus on something I really enjoy, and blocks out all the noise.”

In addition to using drawing as an outlet to improve her own wellness, Peterson is drawing portraits of frontline workers to raise money for the Centers for Disease Control. She has sold six portraits so far, raising 360 dollars in total.

“I can’t really do anything on the frontline, so I wanted to help out in a way that I could,” Peterson said. “It is really about helping as much as I can.”

Although she has had less time to draw since classes restarted, she plans on continuing her fundraising through portraits over the summer.

“As soon as the semester is over, I am going to reach out to more people, post more drawings, and try to get more people to commission,” Peterson said. “Lately it has been hard with exams, but as soon as I have time I will focus on my art more.”

While some Cornell students are spending more time drawing on paper or on their tablets, others are making art on their faces.

Akua Kwakwa ’20 has always been interested in makeup, but started making tutorials on instagram live after classes were cancelled. Her tutorials range from drawing flames on her eyelids to watercolor inspired looks.

Kwakwa’s unconventional style has received positive feedback from viewers.

“People say I’ve inspired them to try new stuff, and that they like to see something a little more different,” Kwakwa said.

She thinks that now that everyone is stuck in their home, now is a good time to try less traditional makeup looks.

“This is the perfect time to try things that you would be scared to try when you are getting ready for school in the morning,” Kwakwa said.