The Artist's Year

Issue 66

A rare trip to Tesco recently reminded me just how beautiful the tulips are, and the bunch I bought lasted for well over two weeks, and thanks to a top tip from a viewer of my live videos, they even remained upright throughout. So, it turns out that if you put a 2p piece in the vase, the stems stay straight! Hopefully, there will be lots more tulip paintings to come this year.

As the current Lockdown means the gallery is closed to the public, I have returned to my (almost) daily ‘live’ videos on Facebook. Anyone at all can tune in to my Facebook page at midday and enjoy the experience of seeing a painting evolve from start to finish, with loads of tips and ideas along the way. There is the opportunity to comment or ask questions about techniques and materials, although it often ends up as a discussion about which Netflix series is the most popular!

A new year brings new ideas and subjects. This year, on two of my recent river swims, an otter has been spotted. These shy, protected creatures are mainly nocturnal predators, hunting fish, eels and shellfish but can be seen at dawn and dusk on the riverbank.

I plan to make time to try to do more otter spotting, and perhaps they will end up being painted. As a year-round outdoor swimmer, the recent low temperatures have led to icy swims among stunningly beautiful ice formations in the nearby river. The amount of time spent in the water at sub 5 degrees is fairly short, but time spent enjoying the wildlife, river fowl and wintry beauty whilst wrapped up warm in many layers and two hats is unlimited. We regularly spot herons, teal, mallard, goosander even woodcock when the snow lay on the ground. A buzzard usually hovers over us while we swim, and we even saw an osprey twice last September, hunting over the river. The ice has been so beautiful this year. Rare ‘hair ice’, created by a fungus and exceptionally low temperatures from dead wood has been a real treat, also so-called ‘pancake ice’, which is formed in very low temperatures in rivers looking just like real pancakes!

During this quiet time, I am mainly doing small paintings, concentrating on layers of colour to create an almost ‘jewel-like’ quality to the paintings. This small-scale format is ideal for the live videos, as the whole painting can be seen by the viewer on screen.

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