Creativity in isolation
Our members might be locked up at home but that doesn’t hamper their creativity.
We asked our members what they are getting up to in their studios and homes. Here is a selection what they said.
We’ll keep updating this page as we get through the crisis – we hope it brings you inspiration.
I am a student of both ceramics & painting at Putney School of Art and Design. My experiences as both potter and painter informs and influences my work in both mediums.
Lockdown has given me the space and time to complete some unfinished oil paintings languishing in my loft. These paintings encapsulate for me a sense of “escape” – pertinent in these times.
Mae Pleydell Pearce
As the insects flutter and dance
upon the flowers,
They spread life everlasting
With no resources to make sculpture out of clay I’ve been using beer cans and bits of rusty chicken wire to make some sculptures – it’s been a collaborative family effort with Peter and Thomas helping me by drinking the beer (in case anyone thinks I’ve been drinking it all on my own.)
I’ve also been doing life drawing via Zoom (Robin Rutherford), to keep my hand in – these are using Dr Marten’s Hydrus liquid watercolours which have such fabulous bright colours.
During lockdown gave me perfect opportunity sorting out old sketches. I found a piles of sketches of stone patterns which I did when visiting a nature park near Scotland. Trying out a new media I have never used before – alcohol ink on paper.
These three pictures were the results and it seems I have found a media I would like to experiment more.
Di Phelps Lister
The view from a Twickenham riverside tree looking towards Eel Pie Island. The tree has a spring blur of amazing acid green leaves. I walk past this tree most days and every day it has changed. How lucky I am to live here.
Taking my daily walk I pass this tree by the Twickenham Riverside. When the warmer weather arrived it started to sprout leaves. Wow, Winter is over. I took photos and painted it at home in oils.
Since the lockdown I have not been able to go to my chainsaw sites or to Gabriel’s Wharf where the finished pieces have been displayed for many years. I have always had an inclination to paint the wood that I have carved and have been experimenting with masonry paint. The work can be seen if you fancy a walk in Bushy Park via the Blandford Road gate. Look for the front garden at number 75.
The last three of the Monday morning sculpture class disappeared into the lockdown. Our tutor Gil Wyman suggested we sculpt at home with papier-mâché. This mermaid is called ‘Guardian’ because that is what she is made of. The rock and the mermaid are not painted. The basic newspaper papier-mâché is overlaid with coloured pieces from photographs and adverts from the paper.
During lockdown I’m in the process of producing a number of self portraits inspired by Virginia Wolf’s book ‘Orlando’, with its theme of gender fluidity. XY70 – the first self portrait as I am now, and from it I have created the second as I was when I was 30. XY30 as Orlando, before he changed gender. I’ve now started the third drawing, XXY30 – a self portrait at 30, as a woman – Orlando after he changed gender. The drawings will be part of an exhibition I’m organising at the Fitzrovia Gallery in November. Life being back to normal by then.
These drawing were made from life using a mirror and sitting very close. I spent a couple of hours every day over a 2 week period. It’s in colour pencil on 100×70 cm Heritage cartridge.
Broken Dreams 4 is a surrogate self portrait, and the fourth in the series, re-imagining 20 years of broken sleep and broken dreams. I used to awake every hour and then immediately fall asleep, only to re-awake in an hour’s time. Now I only awake 3-4 times a night. I guess I’m sleeping better in lockdown, though like many people I’m experiencing more vivid dreams now.
This is a stitched fabric collage I am working on, roughly 80cm by 40cm. I have had plenty of time for hand stitching. It is not quite finished yet – I keep turning it around for the best perspective. I am also considering making a bigger version in a similar composition.
From my little Italian garret. I have been busy working on two themes, a series of large dribbly ‘Pollockesque’ flower paintings for the summer exhibition and a series of palette knife river scenes for a gallery in Beer in Devon.
The dribbly ones are painstakingly built up using chalk dust and PVA glue then layered with a mixture of your natural earth tints (remember them?), enamels and standard oils. They range from 100x100cm to 200x100cm. The palette knife ones are exactly that, oil on board or canvas. Local river scenes from here in Umbertide (with a degree of artistic licence!).
I’m lucky enough to have my studio out in our garden, so have been using lockdown as a time to push myself further into the process of abstraction. The two paintings I’ve done so far are both 101x76cm. “Fade to Red” embraces my love of colour while retaining a sense of the landscape. Nature itself remains fundamental to me, even if this work shows a very personal perspective and vision. With “In Deep” I’m diving deep below the waves, taking you with me into that wonderful world of the deep blue ocean, which (as a scuba diver) I know and love, and which is far removed from COVID19.
Here are some of the paintings I have worked on during lockdown. They are all small canvases 20x20cm. Two years ago I lost all will to paint or function. Not even COVID19 can take me to that place again. It fact it has spurred me on to value my time and be creative.
When I met Colin Bygrave late last year we agreed to do a portrait of one another. Colin has been a long standing and treasured artist friend but had become old and frail. Early this year he phoned to say he was unwell and unable to complete his part. So I did both pieces. On the day before we were to take the work to his home he had a bad fall and was hospitalised. He died three weeks later and never saw the work. The portraits are here to honour our friendship and his memory. Do look him up, his work is very inspirational especially to printmakers.
I painted “Barnes River” from the riverbank outside our house the other day, during the lockdown. Happily it is just possible to spend a while on the bank, even now. “Brewery Evening” was painted just before the lockdown came into effect. The weather has been perfect all this time!
This painting is 50×50 cm oil and cold wax on canvas. It has taken a while to do as it is a process of many layers of painting and scraping back revealing a history of colours underneath. It is from a series inspired by beaches and rock pools in North Berwick where my recently deceased mum lived. So many mesmerising shapes and colours from the sand, seaweed, water and reflections. I completed on a house sale in the nick of time and have a nucleus of belongings in storage. Lockdown is being spent with my daughters in a cottage in Cranleigh where my eldest lives. I sent away for basic art supplies from Amazon to engage in some self indulgent expression of memories while I am here contemplating my future! What joy in the midst of a crazy, disturbing world out there.
Until the lockdown, Robin Rutherford ran a life drawing workshop above Cass Art in Kingston on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The group was keen to keep meeting up. RAS members may like to take part in his online life drawing sessions.
Before the lockdown I was enjoying life drawing sessions at Heatherley’s Fine Art School. Obviously these are now closed so I have been working from photos, but trying to maintain the discipline of life classes (no tracing, gridding, and completion in a couple of hours etc). Paintings are in acrylic and oil. I am also offering to paint A5 size portraits from photos for free to anyone who donates £50 the The St John’s Ambulance Charity – who are working hard to support the NHS.
I haven’t felt the urge to paint so far, but wanted to try something different so dug out my bags of odd bits of fabric for a ‘painting in fabric’ (or collage as it’s better known.) I really enjoyed playing with the limitations of what fabric I have, and whizzing around on my sewing machine.
The second collage I’ve made, is a seascape. I did it all with hand stitching, partly to stop the edges fraying too much, but also so that it would take up a bit more of my time.
I originally started this large painting some years ago in a friends workspace in Teddington but it was not completed and when he left the workspace the painting was taken off a large temporary stretcher, rolled up and stored/lost for some years. Fortunately it was found about a year ago and I decided to try and revive it. After cleaning it I realised it was cracked and damaged and in a poor state and needed to be stabilised & repainted. I stuck the the cracked original canvass to some ply wood and smoothed it down and set about repainting it. (Acrylics) Making changes and alterations along the way and then finally framing it. Being isolated it gave me the time to undertake the project and has kept me occupied for a number of days. The painting shows a Hercules aircraft on a Sortie flying low over the sea. Dimensions : 136×164 cm deep.