The World Reset Series–Art, Literature & Isolation



Nancy Canyon

Nancy Canyon and her extraordinary artist-friendly dog. Photo courtesy of Nancy Canyon



There are some professions that actually benefit during a lockdown. Isolation is seen more as a retreat or in the very least, a time of reflection in which a person draws from the well of inspiration. I know of teachers who are now teaching on-line, spiritual coaches jumping onto ZOOM, and even some forms of energy healing such as Reiki channeled from a distance.

Many artists I met in the past said that their lives were too busy to pursue their various projects, but even the art world has changed with virtual tours of some museums, shopping for art via the website, or teaching art classes through a video format. But what’s it like for a painter and author during this new normal? I asked Nancy Canyon who teaches, creates, and writes with fewer distractions and in the quiet of her home.

Nancy C journal

How many weeks have you been in lockdown? (The official order in Washington State began on March 23).

Nancy Canyon–March 13th was the last day my husband and I had a meal out with friends. March 15th was the last day I picked up my grandsons at school. Ten weeks!

Limitations and constrictions are either a boon or a bust for an artist, depending on mental strength and resourcefulness. How as the lockdown affected your creativity and the structure in which you create?

NC–I stopped going to my art studio in Fairhaven and began making art at home in my writing room. Mostly I’ve been working on an illustrated journal: noting COVID times, writing poems, and sketching from nature. But also, I’ve been busy getting my novel, Celia’s Heaven, ready for launch this June.

What have you discovered about yourself during this physical distancing and collapsing structure?

NC–I was stressed out by my overly scheduled life. I feel more relaxed, intuitive, and more creative since I’ve settled into the quiet of home and long hours of isolation.

Do you feel a new you or a new normal emerging or you now that gives you hope for the future?

NC–I’ve ended up connecting on ZOOM with friends and family, and for my writing work. I’m happy my commute is only from the living room to my writing room. I’m open to the new directions that isolation is taking my creative life.

How will this world event shape our art or writing in the future? Are you milking it for material or are you drawing inspiration from what could be a Dark Night of the World’s Soul?

NC–Right now, I’m noting what is happening due to COVID in a daily illustrated journal. I think this alone is important for the future of humankind…even if it is only my family and friends to see. And I’m working on my writing projects, including readying my memoir Struck to send to agents.

Are you able to work on-line such as teaching on-line classes or working with writers via Skype or Zoom?

NC–I coach for The Narrative Project. All of our events are held on-line, with the exception of two retreats held during the 9-month program designed to finish one’s memoir. Now, even the retreats are on-line. I will also be teaching the Illustrated Journal in June for Chuckanut Writers, WCC, on ZOOM.

What is the most challenging aspect of the lockdown other than having to cancel future plans and completely restructure your life?

NC–Pessimism sucks life dry. Since I am a positive person and see life as a cycle, I am challenged by all the negativity I hear. I know everything will change for the better eventually.  

What has been surprisingly easier than you thought it would be?

NC–I imagined staying home might make me feel lonely, but I don’t. I thought I’d be short on things to do, but I am flush with writing and art projects, the garden, my husband, my pets, and virtual interactions with friends.

What steps are you taking to stay healthy and keep your family (and pets) healthy?

NC–We are staying home, social distancing when out, wearing masks, and washing our hands. Grocery shopping is more tedious with social distancing and the extra step of wiping down packages with a diluted solution of bleach once back home. We look forward to hugging our children and friends when this is over.

Thank you for participating with my series. and, also, Whatcom Talk article on Nancy Canyon