So many of us have reacted in different ways in the UK lockdown, some being energized and leaping into action in house and garden, others relapsing into lethargy, feeling flat and down and disorientated and bewildered by what’s going on in the world. Others may have taken up a new activity or found themselves behaving differently.
I’ve taken up art. An artist friend Jane lent me her artist’s supplies before the lockdown and then of course I had no chance to call on her to give them back. She urged me to use them, though I hadn’t painted for years.
The sumptuous thick squidgy texture and the brilliant colours of the acrylic paint called me, and the full set of artist’s brushes invited me to engage with them.
So I ordered a Strathmore art pad online and began painting.
At first I laid on blocks of colour in an abstract design…
Then I seized a chance to lavish cobalt blue onto the paper…
Then I thought I’d try a tree of life…
The next one was in freestyle, and ended up looking like a fabric design:
A beautiful blue borage flower caught my eye in a friend’s photo on Facebook. Some see it as a weed. I loved the colour and the symmetry.
The next day a photo of a quarry garden inspired me. My husband looked at my painting and identified the ‘path’ as a river, and that’s when I realised the photo is just a guide, and at a certain point lack of technical skill tips you over the edge into fantasy.
I love the combination of trees and parkland and rich verdant landscapes with man-made features such as a bridge and a carefully designed lake and a temple. Capability Brown, step forward.
My sister sent me her photo of rich rainforest on the Queensland/New South Wales border. I loved the perspective. Standing on the edge of a cliff, the viewer gazes down to the waterfall far below.
Following a week in Cornwall visiting some vibrant tropical gardens, I felt like capturing one of the many vistas at Trebah:
Each time I paint a picture there’s always a point when I think, ‘This is going to be a mess. This feels so random’.
Later I take a photograph of the picture, and when I look at the photo I think, ‘oh it’s not so bad after all’.
Viewing a photo of art enables me to see it more objectively. It also changes the colour slightly and makes it appear more muted and subtle, and even gives the image a different feeling.
Something happens in that moment, something liminal, which makes me feel happy.
I later shared the photos of the paintings on social media, and people responded to them. Each time I felt a sense of surprise. They feel naive to me, and yet it is thrilling to evoke a response from a simple image.
I’m a writer but I never forget how people will often respond to an image first.
Have you taken up anything new or creative in lockdown?
Perhaps feeling flat and dispirited and down has led to something unexpected, which has given you a sense of fresh possibilities?