At this stage of the year, it can begin to feel as though the sun has been gone for so long that it won’t be able to remember how to come back properly. The cold and the frequent rain aren’t much of a help, either. At Agora Gallery we’ve noticed a number of visitors make similar comments recently. This feeling is a bit depressing for everyone, but it can be a particular problem for artists, whose work can be adversely affected by such moods and who often rely on light in creating their pieces.

Of course, we all know that the days are getting longer already, and that spring is really just around the corner. But it can be hard to remember that at times, and the challenge is not only getting through the dark days, but using them productively and to good effect. So here are some top tips to help you through what’s left of the winter!

1) Make sure you have abundant artificial light in your studio. This is important in the practical sense, because it is crucial in allowing you to create properly. Without it you’ll discover when it’s too late that the colors are off, or your perspective wasn’t quite right, or you never got rid of all of those initial markings. It also has a mental effect – you’ll feel much more cheerful with good lights on!

2) If you listen to music as you work, try to play cheerful, rousing music at least some of the time. It might seem like the day is calling for something slow and moody, but there’s no need to reflect the sky in the sounds you choose to let enter your studio. Playing something that you find uplifting will have a positive influence on both your mood and your work.

3) Don’t allow yourself to become entirely immersed in serious topics that make you unhappy. Many artists can’t completely avoid such issues, and wouldn’t want to – reflecting and dealing with the real world, including its less pleasant aspects, can be an integral aspect of an artist’s oeuvre. But don’t let it get overwhelming, especially at this time of year. You could perhaps have a smaller project on the side that is more positively focused, or spend time bringing out the latent lighter or more positive potential in a serious subject.

4) Experiment. Trying something new can make you feel excited and keen to get to the studio and start practicing, even if it’s the fiftieth dark and gloomy day in a row. Is there a new technique you’ve been wanting to try for a while? A subject you’ve been putting off tackling? Give it a go!

5) Make the most of the winter. There are some things everyone loves about winter, so try to make some of them part of your routine and consciously enjoy them while you’re doing them. For example, have breaks for hot mugs of tea or hot chocolate, with biscuits on the side (or to dunk if you’re in the mood!). Festoon your studio with brightly colored scarves or woolly hats.

6) Spoil yourself a little. There are few artists who don’t get a frisson of delight from purchasing new art supplies. It sounds silly, but we all love it, and these little treats can make a big difference to your mental and emotional well-being. Do you nearly need a new sketchbook? Take some time choosing one and enjoy the feel of that paper under your fingers. Running out of pencils or pens? Get a few new colors or unusual kinds as well as stocking up on what you need.

7) Spend time with other people! Being an artist can often be a solitary career, which makes it all the more important to put time aside for socializing, as we’ve discussed in the past. Spend time with people who help you relax, make you think and share your interests. Your work will be all the better for it, and so will you.

8) Bonus reminder: Winter is nearly over! Soon spring flowers will start pushing through the ground and trees will freshen up with a new coat of leaves. We’re almost there.

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