Professional Practice

10 Fun Ways to “Zone Out” this Summer as an Art Teacher

journaling outside

The school year is full of artmaking, chaos, and constant activity. It’s a rewarding yet exhausting whirlwind! We are often balancing multiple hats as mentors, club sponsors, and bulletin board curators. We are masters at cleaning up paint spills, containing clay dust, and managing hundreds of student artworks. Once the busy months of the academic year come to a close, we clean up one last time before shutting the art room doors. Now is the perfect time to shift gears and focus on recharging our creative batteries—the only way art teachers know how!

Keep reading for unique ways art teachers recharge and find creative outlets throughout the summer! 

summer art

1. Listen to your favorite podcast in peace.

Instead of constantly telling students to remove their earbuds in class, it’s your turn to plug in without interruptions! Say hello to peaceful podcast enjoyment. Summer break offers the perfect opportunity to catch up on all of those episodes you have saved in your queue or the latest from Art Ed Radio. Dive into your favorite podcasts without students asking what they’re supposed to be doing or a blast from the overhead announcements.

2. Get in the creative flow.

Let your creativity soar without the time crunch of a short planning period and a long and never-ending to-do list. Embrace the luxury of losing track of time—and spending that time on you! Whether you finally finish that painting you started six months ago or enroll in a studio course, allow yourself to make something without inhibition. 

Do you need inspiration to get into the creative flow? Check out these fantastic resources:


3. Enjoy a manicure that lasts longer than a few days.

Now that you’re not teaching ceramics or sculpture, treat yourself to a fresh manicure! Throughout the year, our hands go through the ringer daily. Our nails chip from handling tough art supplies and materials. Constant handwashing and handling of clay leave them routinely dry. During the summer, enjoy a beautifully manicured set of nails that will last longer than a class period. Whether you choose a classic color or show your creative flare with fun designs, a manicure is a simple and effective way to relax and pamper yourself! 

4. Be a traveling artist.

Switch your hat from a traveling art teacher to a traveling artist! Say goodbye to that art cart and pack your favorite portable art supplies to create a masterpiece on location. Let your surroundings inspire your creativity while exploring new cities, hiking in the mountains, or soaking up the sun on the beach. Keep a travel sketchbook to journal your adventures through small drawings, paintings, and collages. 

Check out these two travel ideas:

  1. Get Excited to Draw this Summer with These 8 Creative Exercises
  2. Inspiring Ways to Keep a Creative Teacher Travel Log This Summer

traveling watercolors

5. Rock your favorite outfit.

Bid those paint stains adieu and proudly rock your favorite outfit! We often prioritize comfort and practicality over style and opt for clothing that withstands the rigors of the classroom studio. Summer break allows you to express your style with your favorite outfits. You don’t have to worry about ruining your favorite pair of jeans with acrylic paint stains or clay smudges. Embrace comfort and style as you relax, unwind, and maybe add new items to your closet! 

6. Stare at a painting for hours.

Escape the chaos of permission slips and counting heads and actually immerse yourself in the art world. Visit a museum without the responsibility of keeping track of your 60-100 students. You now have the luxury of admiring each brushstroke of a painting. Take a pause and let the beauty of the artwork transport you to another world. Travel to your favorite museum or local spot to broaden your visual library and spark inspiration.

staring at a painting

7. Discover animal shapes in the clouds.

Instead of staring out of the window while you wait for the kiln timer to buzz, go outside and enjoy the clouds floating by without a care. Lie back, relax, and search for animal shapes in the sky. It’s a simple yet magical way to unwind and let your imagination roam free. This delightful childhood pastime encourages creativity and being fully present and mindful. 


8. Get lost in a good playlist.

Take a break from your students’ favorite tunes and create the ultimate summer soundtrack. Let the music bring you to your happy place, whether that’s lounging by the pool or enjoying a stroll through the park. From upbeat anthems to soulful ballads, curate a playlist that reflects your summer mood and sets the tone for your break adventures.

Check out the similarities between music and art in these two excellent resources: 

  1. Sing and Draw It: How to Find Similarities Between Music and Art Part 1 
  2. Sing and Draw It: How to Find Similarities Between Music and Art Part 2 

9. Doodle while you binge-watch your favorite shows.

Instead of doodling during the schoolwide professional development, wondering how this applies to you, enjoy doodling during your favorite sitcom or flick! Sketch in the comfort of your own home using something nicer than student-grade paper and a broken pencil. Capture scenes from your show or try zen-doodling.

10. Declutter and upcycle simultaneously.

Our hoarding habits of collecting cardboard and recycled paper at school “just in case we need it” often spill over into our homes. Turn those piles of junk mail or art supply catalogs into a creative project! Gather images, quotes, and textures that catch your eye and create a collage. This is a great way to experiment with composition and find new inspiration for bigger pieces. Plus, it’s a productive way to declutter and make art at the same time!


Summer break is the perfect time for art teachers to pause from the chaos—cleaning up messes, preparing for art shows, and submitting art portfolios. Summer is your time to focus solely on your artistic interests without the responsibilities of the school year. Whether you listen to podcasts, create art, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, use the next few months to embrace the opportunity to “zone out” and rejuvenate and recharge. Incorporate these fun activities into your summer routine and emerge refreshed, inspired, and ready to tackle a school year cultivating more future artists!

For additional ways to recharge over the summer, check out the articles below:

What is your favorite artsy way to zone out in the summer?

Share one thing you won’t miss about the school year!

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Kristina Brown

Kristina Brown, a high school art educator, is a current AOEU Writer. She is passionate about inquiry-based learning, student-centered art education, and creating a welcoming and engaging environment for students.

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