The Artist's Year

Issue 62

Suddenly summer is over, the temperature has dropped by about ten degrees, and leaves are being tugged at by the wind, desperate to steal them and carry them away.

Here at Mary Ann Rogers gallery the staff are back to their normal hours, their children back at school, and everyone round here is busy preparing for the autumn lamb sales, which are no sooner over, than, it seems the tups (rams) are put out into the fields and another year begins!

We are busy designing the Christmas catalogue, which will be stuffed with new print and gift ideas, featuring many of the new paintings from this very strange year, including cattle, oriental poppies, landscapes, guinea fowl and much more. Lockdown created an unusually quiet and peaceful time for painting without the usual interruptions of exhibitions, gallery visitors, trade shows as well as social and family get-togethers which only happened via facetime or zoom!

The daily ‘Live’ facebook videos have had to be cut back, as life has gradually filled up with work and fun activities. Now we are back to our normal opening hours, its just not possible to stop everything at midday to do painting and chatting online, its quite tricky finding an available day each week when I can do a live, uninterrupted video.

Almost all of the regular Christmas shows and fairs have been either cancelled or redesigned to be outdoors – a format which doesn’t work for delicate prints and watercolours in the colder months, as paper is prone to ‘waving’ or ‘cockling’ with humidity and dramatic variations in temperature. This will make life much easier this year, but obviously have an effect on sales.

Working out how to run our Christmas open days in a way which keeps not just our customers, but also our staff safe and happy is challenging. With fairly unclear guidelines, we have to use our common sense, and also allow for people to take responsibility for their own safety to an extent. We plan to create a marquee style ‘waiting area’ for very busy times, with complimentary mulled wine/coffee, along with tables, chairs and rugs in case of very cold weather!

The outdoor swimming will continue throughout the winter again. Already we notice the time spent in the water is getting shorter, and soon we will be dipping in the river here with our woolly hats on, followed by hot drinks and shivering! Before that happens, we plan to get into as many new rivers and lakes as possible, starting with a ‘dipathon’ in some of the deep pools and ravines of the River Coquet last weekend – that was quite an adventure!

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