I started this painting at the start of 2020 after the distressing forest fires burning in Australia and other places in the world then covid took off and lock downs happened and somehow my painting dried up in favour of growing vegetables. At last I have started to work on it again though its quite a daunting task as it is a very big canvases big I have to stand on a small stool to reach the top. So far I have had two sessions on it and have made progress but there is a lot more work to do. Watch this space!
There is a value in keeping a painting you think is finished hanging around the studio where you can see it because it will talk to you sometimes screaming until you pickup a brush and correct the offending area. This painting was such a one. It didn’t look right and had a sort of empty space in the middle. I had tried to keep the area with the golden marjoram in the centre clear but just ended up with a hole so I decided to extend the white umbels using oil pastels instead of paint. I won’t work on it again however loud it tries to make itself heard I have had enough it.
Oil on Block canvas 80x80cm
Last year before the lockdowns I started two paintings as a reaction to the terrible fires in Australia then stopped working altogether, I finished them both recently. I was very moved and distressed by the extreme nature of those fires as well as all the other warnings the planet seems to be giving us that we seriously need to change our ways.
This last couple of weeks I have started painting again. It all dried up during the stress of the covid outbreak with all its accompaniments leaving my studio littered with several unfinished works. I have now reduced that to one which is very large. This painting of part of our garden was the first to be attacked and now after several sessions seems to be finished. Summer Garden, oil on cotton box canvas 80x80cm.
I see in my last post I said was coming out of hibernation but that was a bit premature as we entered more months of lockdown. Now two vaccination shots and a lot of Winter later life is gradually taking on a semblance of normality though still very different from before Covid. Stuff I planted in my garden last year survived the unusual cold (for South England) in February, an April that had morning frosts nearly every day, plenty of sun but cold winds and no rain at all for the whole month. Everything was late and now after lots of rain everything is making up for lost time and is growing like mad. My front garden is like a jungle and and as I went in to do deadheading I joked ‘If I’m not back in half an hour send in a search party.’
Here are a few shots of this time.
Although my summer has been very productive outside my studio has been like a foreign country. I think this was partly due to the stress of dealing with the challenges lockdown threw up which led to the creation of a vegetable garden. I now have time to draw breath and I forced myself to get going again. I always find it hard to start creative work when I have been away from it so I start with getting my work space sorted out, and believe me. it needed sorting out.
This painting oils called SEA KALE on 70x70cm box canvas has been hanging around in various stages for about three years and as I don’t like not finishing work today I got on with it. It could be finished but you never know!
My daughter has a tattoo studio called Love The Rock Studio with a small gallery on the ground floor. She organised an exhibition entitled “The Heart” of it”. A plaster heart was sent out to all entrants with a return label and a brief to decorate or alter it in any way they chose and return it to the gallery. The resulting exhibition is a wonderful kaleidoscope of talent and here are some examples. the exhibition can be viewed in its entirety at instagram.com/sltr_the_heart_of_it/(opens in a new tab)
Will Skakespeare penned these words long ago but during this lockdown they have proved very up to date. I found myself crowded out of my online supermarket shopping facility. Everyone else piled in and there were no slots left for me. I don’t drive and my husband is in the very vulnerable category so had to look for alternatives. My cupbord was well stocked with most dry goods but fresh green produce was as probem as even the companies delivering veg boxes were inundated.
So, what to do? My solution was to order a raised bed kit and vegetable seeds which were also in short supply. When the seeds came I started them on the window sill and waited for the bed and compost to arrive.
This post is a diary of my gardening adventure.
Eventually my raised bed and compost arrived, and it was filled lettuce plants kindly donated by a neighbour.
As the weather warmed I planted out the things on my window sill which were in danger of taking over the kitchen. I also used up every large pot I had.
The rocket and rainbow swiss chard in the old fish box began to grow and the bed started to look quite green. I invested in a netted cover for the bed to keep off of our resident wood pigeons with the added benefit that it also kept the local cats off what would be a desirable poo patch.
The bed was so successful in providing us with salad greens and as it seemed lockdown was going to be a long job I ordered two more raised beds.
So now there were three and to even things up I ordered a fourth to make a nice potager as well as planting a small purple artichoke in a pot against the wall and moving my bay tree into the centre of the beds.
I could go on but I don’t want to bore you further. I am very pleased but have to report that the weather is foul now with several days of wind but the greens seem to be surviving.This little escapde has provived us with fresh greens, peas, beans and some squash. I look forward to the autumn and winter greens I am planning to plant.
Several years ago I set out to do a series of small gouache paintings recording some childhood memories. Tomorrow is 75 years since VE day and one of the paintings depicts a vivid memory of the celebratory bonfire on our street complete with an improptu Bitannia with dustbin lid shield and toasting fork trident. Bonfires were not allowed during the war years so as a just turned five child it was magic.
We lived in an end of terrace house and one of the two communal air raid shelters was againt the end wall so it was literally next door. The shelter had a dog legged entrance to stop any light escaping and making us a target for bombers. When the siren sounded an ARP warden stood by the door with a doward facing dim torch and helped people in. For some reason I was frightened of this man and I vividly remember him shouting to a man running full tilt across the cobbles in the street, “Hurry up! The Jerrys are coming.” I had no idea who ‘the Jerrys’ were and no real concept of the danger we were in but the panicked atmosphere coming off the adults communicated real menace.
The shelter had wooden benches running along both sides and was dimly lit by a single light bulb suspended from the ceiling. We sat by the entrance and our neighbour, Mrs Freeman who lived across the Terrace, sat on the opposite bench with her faithful little companion dog, Judy. I remember my Mum muttering that she was not supposed to bring a dog into the shelter but I as very glad she was there as she held my attention while the antiaircraft gun pounded away from the nearby Park.
We had a small canary finch cross which sat in a cage hung in the window of our kitchen living room. I didn’t know much about the bird except that because it wasn’t a pure canary it didn’t sing, Sadly we returned from the shelter one night to find poor Joey dead in the bottom of his cage. Perhaps all the crashing and banging was too much for him or he was just an old bird. The other possibility was that gas got to him. We all had gas masks and I remember mine having a Mickey Mouse shape.
There was no street lighting because of the blackout but one night I stood in the back yard with my Grandad who pointed out strange lights beaming upwards.To me these were just pretty lights but I now know they were searchlights trying to spot enemy planes in order to shoot them down.
I really meant to post more on this blog but somehow what with trying to source groceries online, worrying about my very vulnerable spouse, getting a raised bed up and running for the first and time tidying the rest of the garden after a very wet winter I didn’t manage to get anything finished in my studio. It has been a difficult time for everybody but for me at last I have managed to clear the back log and got into my studio to finish off this triptych started in response to the Australian fires which seem a long time ago now.