This blog continues from my last blog, Year of the Pig.

Chinese New Year this year started on 25 January with a big feast! Last year, life definitely felt more urgent due to my cancer diagnosis, so I shifted more focus to my own practice and sloughed off a lot of work I didn’t want to do, like translations, with financial consequences of course. Nonetheless I did also manage to sell a bit more so let’s see how it goes this year. I am disappointed I didn’t get the DYCP grant but in many ways it means less pressure. I have some things coming up so fingers crossed despite everything.


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I have a commission to work on which is to make some drawings for a book but definitely not illustrations so I am really pleased I signed up for 2 online courses with the Royal Drawing School, both of which are helpful in pushing me to bring the two worlds of  observation and imagination closer together – or to understand and try different approaches to that process.  Each course day is exhausting and very intense but I am learning so much and am sure my response to the commission will be better as a result. The great thing with online is being able to work in my own space and not having to struggle to get to London early …


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I signed up for the London Drawing Group workshop on symbolic self portraits and did this

I’m posting it not because it is a great piece of work but because the emphasis on tone took me right back to school days – tone was my art teacher’s favourite word I think. So doing this drawing felt significant. I feel as if we are in a time of change but also a time of re-evaluating what is important. I might be wrong but so many artists seem to be doing observational work at the moment, as if we are valuing what we see, the ordinary, the everyday.

I tried the pencil over watercolour technique on this life drawing (via zoom) after I’d done the self portrait


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I run a fortnightly Zoom drawing club which is proving to be quite popular. It isn’t a workshop – rather a space for drawing in company and sharing ideas and encouragement. We don’t usually have themes but inspired by Grayson Perry’s art club one member suggested self portraits and most of us had a go, including me! I think I look like my mother.

During lockdown I make an easily available model and it is not often I look at myself with this intensity. Usually I catch myself in the mirror and think Ugh, look terrible today. Unless it gets destroyed this drawing may well outlast me, physically.


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The past week has been a bit rough – glad to be back on treatment but the drugs are strong. I must have slept for 12 hours on Friday. Before starting the new (old) chemo drugs I did manage a walk with my husband and dog and it felt so good to smell the scent of the bluebells and enjoy moving through the woods and in the breeze.

Today I ventured into the studio for the first time since lockdown started and it felt very weird. I just tried to reinhabit the space …

I do wonder whether the post-lockdown world is going to be any different and indeed whether there is a post-lockdown world at all. We may have to get used to lockdown periods from time to time. Some of the signs are not good – people just dying to start long-haul flights again, and drive everywhere . One thing I’ve found myself able to do is to really appreciate not going anywhere, though I do miss seeing family of course. But it is amazing how strangely intimate, intense and focused zoom meetings can be!

 


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Someone said the other day that the garden has become a destination during this lockdown period. I have ventured into painting … and done a pen and ink drawing for the first time in ages.

Gardens are truly healing places.


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