Quarantine Series

by Zarah Durst

Before quarantine started, I had not painted or done anything creative that wasn’t related to my major in years. One of the sentiments that I hear a lot about the pandemic is that it gives us a chance to focus on ourselves and our health while the world is on pause. Somehow, over the past few years I forgot what I liked. It didn’t seem to matter so much what I liked so long as I could produce something that my professors and peers would like. I forgot how to make something for me and only me. 

I spent the entire summer painting without planning to show the finished product to anyone. I spent hours on end—sometimes forgetting to eat—to finish each in one sitting. I found that I like painting in oils, using complimentary colors (my favorites are pink and green), and throwing glitter over them. The best part is that I don’t have to explain why I like how it looks, I just do. 

The paintings are placed in chronological order with respect to when I painted them. The first was done with watercolors from a tube on a piece of sketch paper. I did this in quarantine at home when I had little materials. 

The second was done on a canvas with oils and glitter. I did this at my home off campus the week before school started. It was the last painting I could do when all I had to worry about was remembering to take a break and eat. 

The last I did in the first weeks of school. At this point, I finally had confidence in my own style of painting and I decided to branch out and incorporate some of my other interests (which in the case of this painting is horror and horror imagery).

I can confidently say that I now know how to paint for myself. I’ve started using my newfound interests in this aesthetic in my work for school. I didn’t realize that something as small as taking up a new hobby could be so powerful in the development of my spirit. When the world starts up again, I know I will be able to rely on painting to connect with myself and my creativity. 

Zarah is in her third year at ‘Cuse! When not doing homework or working on studio, she is involved in student organizations at the architecture school. Her focus is mainly within mental health awareness and the mentorship program for the first years. She likes to paint, sing, do embroidery, and listen to true crime podcasts.