Really. Hopefully, you’re finding time to care for yourself amidst strange schedules, social distancing, and lots of time at home. If you need a little help, hop on this self-care tour and let artwork from the collection lead the way.

First Stop: Time for a Retreat!

Thomas Wilmer Dewing, (Boston, Massachusetts, 1851–1938, New York, New York), Symphony in Green and Gold, 1900, Oil on panel, 36 in. x 48 in. (91.44 cm x 121.92 cm), Bequest of Edwin C. Shaw

The artist behind this dreamy scene liked to gather up his painter friends, head into nature, and spend time away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.

Your turn: Take a seat and imagine your ultimate relaxing vacation.

Where would you go? Who would you bring?

Next Stop: #goals

Alma W. Thomas, (Columbus, Georgia, 1891–1978, Washington, D.C.), Pond — Spring Awakening, 1972
Acrylic on canvas, 68 in. x 55 in. (172.72 cm x 139.7 cm), Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson

After retiring from her career as an art teacher in 1960, this artist devoted herself fulltime to making art. She eventually became the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. How’s that for a retirement plan?

PSSST: This artwork has a secret. It looks abstract but the colors, lines, and shapes here are meant to represent a pond in the spring. Head to your window and see how many signs of spring you can spot. If you have time, head out and take a few deep breaths surrounded by nature.

Next: Meditation

Mark Rothko, (Dvinsk, Russia, 1903–1970, New York), Untitled, 1949, Oil on canvas, 64 in. x 43 in. x 2 1/2 in. (162.56 cm x 109.22 cm x 6.35 cm), Private Collection

This painting is not just a painting. It is a tool for meditation. Rothko considered these floating rectangles doorways between the physical and spiritual worlds.

OOOOM: Sink into this deep pool of blue and see if you can clear your mind. Here are some meditation 101 tips to get you started

1. Get comfortable

To get started, it doesn’t matter whether you sit or lay down as long as you are comfortable. You can sit cross-legged, on the floor, or on a chair. If you can sit erect, then great. If not, it’s just important to have your body in a somewhat stable position. Then have the palms of your hands face the sky.

2. Become “present”

Become totally aware of your current surroundings. What do you hear? How does it feel to sit? Do you feel tension? Where are your thoughts?

3. Focus on your breath

As you take long and deep breaths, feel your breath move from your lungs and out through your nostrils or your throat. (Breathing through your nostrils is better though either will work). Your mind will wander (which is okay), just try your best to be as focused as possible.

4. Feel your body

Once you’re focused, take notice of your body and how each body part feels. Start with the toes and work your way up to your head. If your mind continues to wander, bring your thoughts back to your breath. Breathe 5 to 10 times with full concentration on each breath.

Take it a step further and hum “Om” as you breathe out.

Next Stop: Party Time

Mickalene Thomas, (Camden, New Jersey, 1971 — ), Girlfriends and Lovers, 2008, Acrylic, enamel and rhinestones on panel, 108 in. x 144 in. (274.32 cm x 365.76 cm), The Mary S. and Louis S. Myers Endowment Fund for Painting and Sculpture, 2010.1

Yes, relaxing is nice, but so is blowing off some steam with your best buddies by your side. These ladies sure know how to go glam for a night on the town.

JUST DO IT: Get out your phone right now. Yes, now. Send a message to one person you like (friend, colleague, family) and set up a time to connect by phone or video chat. How about a digital dance party?

Next stop: No News is Good News

Lee Bontecou, (Providence, Rhode Island, 1931 — ), Untitled, 1966, Painted iron, fiberglass and fabric, 41 in. x 29 in. x 8 in. (104.14 cm x 73.66 cm x 20.32 cm), Gift of Leo Castelli, Castelli Galleries

This artist was profoundly affected by World War II and has poignant memories of her mother wiring submarine parts in a factory during the war. These early experiences awakened a lifelong political awareness that fueled the intensity of much of her work.

She Said: “I was angry. I used to work with the United Nations program on the short-wave radio in my studio. I used it like background music, and in a way, the anger became part of the process. During World War II we’d been too young. But at that later time [the 1950s and 1960s], all the feelings I’d had back then came to me again.”

COOL DOWN: What strategies do you use to deal with anger or disappointment? Do you angry-clean your house? Go for a walk? Call a friend? Use the tools that work for you to find calm.

Finally: Treat Yourself

Richard Estes, (Kewanee, Illinois, 1932 — ), Food City, 1967, Oil, acrylic and graphite on fiberboard, 48 in. x 68 in. (121.92 cm x 172.72 cm), Purchased, by exchange, with funds raised by the Masked Ball 1955–1963

This elaborate scene contains lots of yummy treats

(and super low prices!)

YUMMM: What is your favorite comfort food? Jot it down and make a plan to add the ingredients to your shopping list (or take-out rotation).

Need more? Search the collection database for anything you find calming. Just type in a keyword, year, or artist and let the journey begin.

Enriching lives through modern and contemporary art

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store