From painters to photographers to musicians and street artists, everyone is facing changes in their creative process.

There's sometimes a perception that artists create their best work under lock and key - locked away in their studios, no contact with the outside world, and only their own thoughts to inspire them.

But the option to go outside and be inspired by people and society around them has always been there if they want it.

So when you're forced into lockdown, you have no choice, how does this affect the creative flow?

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Theo Arraj painting on canvas.
Theo Arraj painting on canvas.

Living with his whānau in Paraparaumu, Theo Arraj was shocked to find out New Zealand was going into lockdown.

"Major plans I had in place fell through in a matter of days and everything was put on pause," he said.

"After a week of denial I decided to take this time as an opportunity for metamorphosis."

Theo implemented some lifestyle changes and then got back into his studio.

"I've definitely slowed down a lot during this time, making the most of the nice days to get out for some exercise and spend quality time with the family."

Doing street art and large scale murals which can be seen on corners and buildings all around Kāpiti, Theo has started a number of works on canvas and is participating in HOME the world's first stay-at-home environmental mural festival where artists all over the world paint murals in their isolation bubble as part of a campaign to unite creatives around the common cause of giving our home planet an artistic voice.

Stocking up on paint before lockdown, Theo is all set, "I have more paints than toilet paper".

Photographer Karolina Stus.
Photographer Karolina Stus.

For some, like Paraparaumu photographer Karolina Stus, lockdown hasn't been easy.
"I'm finding lockdown very draining for my creativity," she said.

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Primarily being a portrait photographer, Karolina's work revolves around contact with other people.

"People are my energy. I can't live and create without them."

Inspired creatively by her subjects whom she meets face to face, even social media is no help to Karolina.

"I need people in my life, not virtual, but real people.

"Without them my battery is empty."

Ronda Thompson undercoating a new canvas in her studio.
Ronda Thompson undercoating a new canvas in her studio.

For Ronda Thompson, an oil painter in Paekākāriki, lockdown has meant fewer distractions.

"I find that I'm a little more relaxed when painting now as there is not the same pressure from galleries to produce more work.

Lockdown has helped her creative flow as there are less distractions - apart from the phone which she doesn't mind as she uses it to keep in touch with family and friends.

"I'm always happy to stop work for a chat.

"My paintings take a while to paint, but I've really got stuck in and have just finished a large painting of Wellington Harbour and have started undercoating a new canvas."

Kate Hartmann experimenting with bed sheets and napkins.
Kate Hartmann experimenting with bed sheets and napkins.

Mixed medium painter Kate Hartmann, from Waikanae, said the lockdown has enabled her to experiment and work on pieces she ordinarily would not have been able to justify spending so much time on.

"A couple of days prior to lockdown I managed to pick up some extra art supplies but in the hurry forgot some things I could probably do with.

"However it's good to be inventive and use what I have on hand."

This includes using old bedsheets and napkins instead of paper and canvas and tea and coffee instead of paint.

"I've tried to use it as an opportunity to look outside the square and focus on some really experimental pieces.

"On the one hand you have plenty of time to create but on the other your daily visual connection with the real world has narrowed, so the stimulus and inspiration can be lacking.

"I think you also slow right down, the urgency isn't there so it can be hard to get motivated to work, energy wise."

Musician Charlotte Kerrigan. Photo / Karolina Stus
Musician Charlotte Kerrigan. Photo / Karolina Stus

For some artists the lockdown means less creative time as childcare becomes the number one focus.

Living in Raumati with her husband and two sons aged 10 and 12 years, musician Charlotte Kerrigan has found the lack of quiet space most disruptive, finding she has not been able to work on original songs.

"As a musician and songwriter I need quiet space to write and that is certainly not happening at the moment, but I have managed to grab a few times when the PS4 is being utilised by the boys, to be a bit creative.

"I haven't been able to write anything original, I'm definitely not in the right space for that at the moment but that's okay."

She has however been able to continue arranging music and hold virtual choir rehearsals through Zoom each week.

Marcus Ebbett with his two boys in his studio.
Marcus Ebbett with his two boys in his studio.

For painter Marcus Ebbett who lives and works in Raumati South, family time has also increased but the lockdown has allowed him to hit the reset button and stop the daily grind.

"I'm actually really excited as this has made me stop the day to day grind, hit the reset button and take a fresh look at what I'm doing and what I want to achieve long term.

"It has definitely been harder to get into a creative flow with a lot more distractions at home and I would say this has ultimately led to less creativity.

"I am missing the more substantial outdoor adventures for fresh inspiration, and meeting people in my gallery who also give me feedback, as for me this is essential to my creative process."

James Brewer getting a helping hand from his cat.
James Brewer getting a helping hand from his cat.

James Brewer, another painter from Raumati South has been using his time in isolation to plan future works.

"I have been working on commissions as well as using my time that would otherwise be focused on exhibitions to plan future artworks.

"Having exhibitions and art shows cancelled has been hard but during these times you just try to appreciate what you have and focus on what is important.

"I'm fortunate that I have the ability to paint fulltime from home ordinarily, so I haven't lost the creative spark – I've been able to spend even more time sketching and planning paintings."

That being said, it hasn't all been great - he's had to get used to instant coffee instead of his daily visit to the Raumati Social Club.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website