Lockdown, Life drawing & lemons

The UK has now been in lockdown for 7 weeks I believe, it’s such a strange and scary time. Due to some personal circumstances other than short walks every few days I have not left the house in this time, not even to visit the shop. Whilst I am an introvert at heart and can certainly work well or perhaps even thrive by spending a lot of time working alone I still miss popping to the shops, a cafe or even just grabbing a coffee. As time goes on it will be harder of course because as I say whilst I’m not the most sociable person ever it is not healthy for me (or anyone) to socially isolate and not spend time with people.

Initially with probably a combination of an initial anxiety response and other factors I did my design work but had nothing left for my illustration work. As is the case with creative burnout in the past I need to find a way to ease in, to have low pressure creating and begin to find that actually I am drawing/painting/illustrating more and more.

For me I discovered a new world of online life drawing classes that were being run by the people who usually host these in person. I’m not entirely sure how many virtual sessions I have attended live now and I also did one or two pre recorded ones but I found that it was feeding my creative soul. You can’t help but not be too precious over your output during a life drawing class, it’s fast and imperfect which is sometimes the exact thing that artists need especially if we tend to be tighter, more ‘perfectionist’ style of artists (aka me!). I experimented with drawing in pen and ink, drawing over watercolour washes, coloured pencils, watercolour ‘ink’ pencils and pure watercolour.

Once you have loosened up it becomes easier to create other more experimental and looser work. The ballgown was inspired by following along with a Jessica Durrant Instagram live workshop – that I am also grateful for as she has run a few of these which have been so fun to do and try something different than usual. I’ve also dabbled more with ‘not my usual style’ illustrations in my sketchbook when I don’t feel like drawing.

And some more polished, finished pieces

Funnily enough I have also enjoyed the opposite end of the spectrum and going a bit more realistic than I usually do with the portrait on the left, whilst the outcome tends to impress people if it looks realistic like this and it certainly takes time to do for me I actually use less of my creative brain than my typical more illustrative portraits. Then on the right, another live stream but this time for portraiture hosted by Sky Arts for their lockdown series Portrait Artist of The Week and this is of the inspiring writer Bernadine Evaristo. We had just 4 hours to complete the portrait and it has been fascinating seeing the range of outcomes via the #mypaotw hashtag on Instagram.