Inspired by Tom Croft’s ‘hashtag –portraitsfornhsheroes‘ idea, I have begun a series of portraits. it was instigated to reward and draw attention to the amazing work of our NHS staff during this terrible pandemic. It’s a brilliant idea and has actually helped me to regain some sort of focus.
This beautiful young midwife was the first of my portraits. Hearing her story has enabled me to put just a little of her personality into what might be a rather stilted image. I much prefer to work in a face to face situation rather than from a photograph. But it’s not possible.
A second candidate has drawn more ‘likes’ on Instagram than I’ve ever had before. mostly down to the fact that this lady must have many friends, I should think. But I also hope that I managed to capture a little of her devotion to her profession and her obvious dedication to her chosen career. Her humanity shone through like a beacon in the words she wrote to me.
It’s becoming addictive now. I’m already on my 4th and 5th portrait and will advertise for more when these are finished. it’s a wonderful initiative and I urge my fellow-artists to join in. Look for @tomcroftartist on Instagram.
This is Jessie’s finished portrait. Not quite her but would like to paint her in the flesh if possible one day perhaps. In the meantime maybe I should move on from landscapes to people ?
I don’t understand what’s happening to my mind. I hate facebook but am lately drawn to it…to almost anything online which just might shed light on what’s going on??? Facebook and Twitter are upsetting me with the vast amount of negativity, bleating, misinformation. So much is fake news, I’m sure, and the egotistical opinions of so many, are making me angry!! In the face of this absolutely unprecedented situation it would be a miracle if the responses of governments, leaders, countries got it right. But I’m sure they are all doing their best. It’s a logistical nightmare!!! So just everyone SHUT UP and let them get on with it please!!!
Just one fb post did give me hope and a rudder to cling on to. It was about the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. A pyramid diagram depicting human needs in 4 layers. I came across this at college years ago and had forgotten about it. But it’s quite comforting. The writer who sited this on fb explained that we are now on the bottom rung of the pyramid – basic needs of food and shelter. So it’s pointless to berate yourself about not reaching the top layer of Self-actualization; self-fulfilment.
In this current climate our minds just won’t stretch to those giddy heights and we should stop beating ourselves up for not achieving all those things we promised we’d do if we only had the time. We have all the time we need now but simply surviving Stay Home *Protect the NHS * Save Lives is enough.
So I’m trying now, to stop worrying, stop planning, stop striving to make a valid, grown up thoughtful artistic response and just keep doing random acts of art and kindness. So what if it’s jumbled and full of a retreat into my comfort zone rather than forging forward artistically. I’m making art and that’s as much as I can manage until this awful Biblical Plague ??? passes over…..see below.
A jumble of gut reactions which generally distract me from spiralling down into fear and depression. I’ve been there once before and I don’t want, must not, go there again.
Undiluted time in which to pursue painting.
No constraints such as having to go to work, look after children or even aged parents.Very few demands or obligations in my life to which I have to respond.
In former times I bemoaned the burden of these ties which I felt prevented me from my desire and vocation to create; follow my dreams of being ‘an artist’.
We humans are subject to such contrary, conflicting emotions.
Endless time paralyses, inhibits, restrains me from beginning.
How to express this trauma?
Life transformed into a terrifying crisis; time stretching endlessly.
A downward spiral of silence; of empty streets; of empty skies; of empty supermarket shelves; of sleepless nights; of nightmarish dreams coloured by anxiety….images of the endless repetitive TV news
‘STAY HOME – PROTECT THE NHS – SAVE LIVES’.
Blue-gowned, masked nurses;
rows of coffins.
Then the relief of wonderful heart-stopping images of small acts of generosity, kindness, heroism. The brief balm of clapping in the streets, surrounded by friends and strangers united in thanks and pride in those who are working to keep humanity going.
My artistic response should be deeper; more meaningful, but instead all I can achieve is a retreat into my comfort zone of looking at, then painting the sheer beauty of flowers .
I feel trapped, confined within the four boundaries of my garden. We are having to totally self-isolate. It feels so inadequate. Surely there is something more I could do. If only I was below that ominous number 70 I could volunteer for something.
I lurch between concentration and total absorption of this enjoyable activity and sudden overwhelming despair at thoughts of the future and even of the present.
One day it will become the past.
Until then all we can do is hold on and hope and perhaps find better ways to express in paint this momentous period of time.
My technology skills are just short of zero. Enforced semi-isolation is mind-numbingly dull so I have begun to experiment. I discovered that my blood pressure had shot up…. we acquired a home-test kit recently. So I took the decision to avoid all news bulletins for a few days, went for a longish solitary walk. Spotted banks of wild violets, hawthorn hedges in bloom, children playing football illegally on a school field all in beautiful sunshine. Sadly – no camera so on my return I walked around my garden taking photos with my phone of more signs of Spring. And there were quite a lot.
Next I began working out how to make a collage of these. Then, by chance, discovered I could draw odd lines over this. Even managed to change the colour of the lines to a spring-like green…. goodness knows how? So at this moment in times, can’t actually repeat that trick. Oh well ….more playing around with the Apple laptop tomorrow. Time is on my side and I’m learning patience slowly !!
To my surprise, on rechecking my blood pressure, it had sunk to a respectable 112 over 72 !!! Down from 159 over 96 RESULT.
We are living in horrendous times of fear and panic. My stress levels are worrying. But art and even technology can help.
Friday 20th March.
I thought I was so lucky to have my studio now. It meant I had a change of scene. I’ve been making a safe dash from the carpark – to the studio. Once inside I felt safe as no-one has set foot there apart from my husband, Alec, since this coronavirus nightmare began.
So here’s the view. Alec having a go at art after a long gap.
And here’s what I started doing. Looking back fondly at a sketch I made in Cornwall last summer. I tried it in oil paint first after my experiments with oils earlier this month.But it came unravelled so I retreated to my comfort zone of acrylics. It’s not finished but have just started to draw into it with charcoal hoping to retain the looseness of the sketch. I thought maybe I’d pop back to the studio later to finish it. But today things are looking very bleak. I really don’t think I should leave the house. Alec is classed as high risk and I’m over 70 so for the sake of our own and others health I feel we should obey the rules and properly self isolate now.
Sunday 22nd March
It’s scary but all I can do is gather some supplies from my studio and hunker down at home until the danger has passed.
Jo brought me some flowers for Mothers day, leaving them on the doorstep so maybe I’ll try a watercolour painting of them. I painted some beautifulHellebores recently and watercolour on khadi paper is very enjoyable. As well as blogging I’m starting a coronavirus diary of art.
We live in challenging times and recording events is perhaps a cathartic way to deal with this. Painting is a meditative occupation and so it may help.
Who knows what may happen next. I’m sad to have to abandon my studio so soon after acquiring it, but I fear I have to. All I can do is hope it’s not too long before I can use it again and keep painting at home. It’s my only answer at the moment.