I mentioned in my previous blog a challenge set by my studio buddy Helen Jayne Woodcock. After the initial shock of the first lockdown, exactly a year ago, I think most of us went into gardening or house redecorating mode. The atmosphere and the unfolding drama were too dreadful and unsettling to allow for creative thought in any meaningful way. More pedestrian pursuits were needed to get us through each day. Hard physical labour helped keep the demons at bay.

In many ways this was quite a liberating time. As an artist who often has a backlog of commissions, most of which were cancelled within the first few weeks of lockdown, I felt initially lost and then free. I threw myself into all those jobs I’d put off for years and was soon working my way through ‘the list’, ticking things off until there was nothing left!

That was when Helen rang and said we needed a challenge. Neither of us were painting and had got to the point where we didn’t even know how to start again. The studio was closed as we had to ‘stay at home’, and so we needed to set up studios in our own homes.

You may be surprised to learn I chose my bathroom. It is a large room with good light and a view over the park… and fortunately my husband is a remarkably tolerant man!

Helen and I have very different painting styles. She likes to paint wide, expansive landscapes, often in and around Kenilworth. She also paints lovely coastal scenes from her many visits to Wales. I like to paint images with a narrative, often peopled events, but I also like to glimpse those small, intimate worlds… a wall, a corner of a garden, a stable yard, I love to capture a moment in time.

So, the challenge was set. I would paint from one of Helens photographs and she from one of mine. And it worked! Suddenly we were both painting again, and it was fun to grapple with these challenging images.

And here are the results. A Welsh Seascape and the Corner of my Father-in-law’s Garden. I love Helen’s painting so much I bought it. It is a beautiful reminder of a person and place now gone forever from our lives.

Lessons learned – Never put limits on yourself… never become too comfortable with your painting style… always push your skill level and don’t be afraid to fail. Never stop trying, never stop learning. Be brave and most importantly of all, enjoy the process!