Busy, busy, lock down busy

Apart from the challenge of finding someone other than yourself to draw and a landscape that isn’t the parked car outside your front window, lock down works quite well for a distance student used to the vacuum of no physical peers to work with.

So far, that’s got me to the end of the Drawing 1 module, and almost to the end of Practice of Painting. All of them now subject to digital rather than physical assessment. My Drawing portfolio will be formally assessed in July, without the anxiety of sending all those precious items off in the post and hoping they all come back – at which point, after moving on somewhat elsewhere, they’re likely to qualify as embarrassments.

OCA has undergone a metamorphosis since COVID-19 struck and emerged from its rather dated egg as a more nimble, albeit a bit wobbly on its legs, new millennial. Some staff have had personal tragedies and probably some students too. This is a shitty time.

So, at times of trouble and stress, what’s a girl to do? Crack on, that’s what.

First, let me introduce you to a video series fronted by Tim Marlow who takes us on very manageable tours of significant artists over the years. There are two series, both via Amazon Prime and called Great Artists with Tim Marlow.

Next is an ongoing series coming via The Arts Society. I have no interest in glass but the absolute joy in Mark Hill’s voice and face as he describes the history of glass making is a delight. To date, just Hill’s and Sara Dunant’s on history of art and literature are the only ones posted, but the schedule includes short talks on collecting, Turner and the £20 note, Beethoven’s fit of rage (can’t wait for that one!), and Aboriginal art from May 19th.

Then there’s The Lonely Palette, an audio podcast written and fronted by the extraordinary Tamar Avishai, an art historian and past adjunct lecturer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This woman cuts through artifice and pomposity like a warm knife through soft butter. Lots of episodes going back to 2016, all bite sized.

Now some actual late-onset-painting-degree-student art.

Still life. Acrylics on duck cotton. Really it should be stapled onto something firm but the stapler I ordered wasn’t up to coughing up anything but bits of bent wire so it’s pinned!


A small detail crop showing texture.


I liked this but also it felt a bit twee so I took another run at it. Still duck cotton but this time larger and darker. It felt more solid in these colours.



By the time we got to portraits, COVID-19 had really taken hold, but you’d never tell from my selfie expression …


These two are about mood.

and led to this, an acrylics version of a drawing I’d made earlier from an internet photo.


Then this – another remarkable face drawn first then painted.


The next task was to portray a figure in an interior. This is based on some sketches I did a year or so ago of our local Hub, a cafe attached to the Baptist church down the road. It’s closed to customers for now while it serves as an actual hub for volunteers supporting our community through this crisis. The picture reflects the emptiness many of its elderly clientele must be feeling now it’s not available to them. Somewhat of a Hockney tinge to this maybe?


And in complete contrast, here I am inserting myself into the clean room at NASA/JPL’s Mars rover lab. Why? Well why not!


This exercise called to a narrative. These are four separate canvas boards indicating the passage of time by the colour of the brickwork while the elderly man gradually retreats from the window. Isolation can be as much a killer as a virus.



Not COVID-related at all. Much! Taken from a selfie I’d labelled ‘who do I speak to about this PPE’?’


Now we’re onto landscapes, or more accurately, windowscapes as that will be the limit of any exploration for the time being. I may have been channelling Monet for this and I apologise whole heartedly to his spirit.


I often find that a second (or third) version of a painting turns out better than the first which, in the past, I’d have been very happy to accept. So, there’s another iteration of this one underway – here’s a taster.



Links to my OCA blog

















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