"May Day May Day, we're going down!" OK maybe not, maybe the pandemic numbers are just tilting a wee bit to the good. The vaccines are working. Now the scramble to get enough folks jabbed with a first vaccine followed as soon as we can with a second. "They" talk about a double vax summer. Wouldn't that be 'loverly', as My Fair Lady said.
If we could manage the double doses I could meet a friend or two (maybe three or even four) for a long overdue cup of coffee. It was this thought that made me paint "Meet Me For Coffee". But I could not refrain from including a wee bit of separation between me and my besties. We'll do it. We'll do it outdoors. Still cautious. Still careful.
I waited with baited breath for April First to see if this whole pandemic mess was really just one fat worldwide April Fool's Day joke. Turns out it was and is not. And we are still, despite vaccines getting into arms, not keeping our heads above water more than just to keep breathing. It's exhausting.
The latest "thing" is the numbers of people who are violating all the rules that have been set up to keep us safe and to push numbers down. People protesting against these rules without any realization that this is not going to end any time soon if they don't follow the rules and remain cautious.
Below is what came to me right after a news story about protesters. "Then They Protested" is a group too close together, flinging off their masks, walking on their masks and breaking all sensible restrictions.
March marks my birthday month. This is the second pandemic birthday for me. I said last year that I was not celebrating therefore I was not counting it sooooo that means I'm the same age I was last year. Do you think I can get away with that two years in a row? Yes. OK you are now my best friend.
How do you celebrate without friends and family? I'm an artist so that means, of course, PAINT! Candy Floss was always a sticky sweet treat when I was a kid and it brought me pleasure. I even got it for free because my grandmother's friend worked on the candy floss booth at the fall fair. At my age, it is far to sweet for me now so why not translate that childhood happiness into paint.
With great joy the news of vaccinations becoming available gave most of us a bit of a skip in our step. Even with the knowledge that getting it to the bulk of the population was not going to happen tomorrow, it was still the inspiration for my next painting, "Light at the End of the Tunnel".
Even in the dead of winter with no possibility of hugging a palm tree on a tropical island any time soon, I felt downright euphoric.
eu·phor·ic -- elated, happy, joyful, joyous, delighted, gleeful, excited, exhilarated, jubilant, blissful. These are most definitely not the usual words that I think of in February in Canada. In a normal year, I just want February to be over... kind of like what I'm thinking about my relationship with this pandemic. Generally the feeling I usually have when I painted "Stormy Weather" but some folk love storm watching. All to his own I say.
Still in a pandemic and beginning to worry about how families will be handled their Christmases. Sure we all wanted to gather and celebrate as usual but HEY, this has been no 'usual' year.
People were good at developing their bubble groups BUT every time a holiday would come around they just couldn't remain steadfast. Now that we are 14 days past the Christmas holiday we are seeing the results of folks breaking down and gathering with their families. Sadly some of these people will now lose some loved ones.
Winter is here and we begin to think of how we used to travel in the winter to escape the cold inter days. This year we can only reflect on the places we have been and dream about the places we may go down the road.
This daydreaming made me think of the days not long ago when I was blessed with a wedding invitation for a celebration in New Orleans as well as last year's trip to Spain and France.
New Orleans is a noisy city but if you pause for awhile, sit down in a cafe and just listen, you will hear some amazing music. Music played in cafes, bars, lounges and literally on every street corner. It brings a vibrancy to the city that I have not found anywhere else.
In Barcelona, it was the old city center that got me lost both in my mind and, well, really lost. Unlike North American cities the old winding streets gave you no long view in front of you and navigating was quite difficult. BUT that only meant you got to see so much more.
Come fall, 'they' said it could get better. Well, that was a nice idea but after the Thanksgiving weekend it was obvious that things were not going to get naturally 'better'. We were all going to have to hunker down and wait it out until a vaccine could be developed.
Back in the spring I was due to join a number of other artists on an Artists' Residency but as happened to many events, it was postponed. This was when this group of artists joined forces to support one another with zoom meetings and art challenges. We are now well into the fall and still meeting virtually and feeling that this support has sustained us in both artistic creativity and personal support. Even though our 7th challenge has been completed we have decided to continue meeting just to chat and meeting to continue the challenges.
As we are still in the throws of a Pandemic, naturally this theme continues to be in my mind as I'm creating new work. In as much as I'm given plenty of time in my studio to accomplish lots of work, there are days when motivation is thin.
We've been told over and over that we are to stay home as much as possible to keep safe. As time has passed permissions have been given to create "bubbles" of people with whom we can keep in contact with, hence reducing the chances to catching COVID and spreading COVID. I the first painting above I was thinking very hard about "Finding My Bubble" of close people. But for the most part I chose to have a very small close bubble of people. I kept most of my socializing to zoom meetings and phone calls. It felt like a turbulent time. In the next piece, "Waiting in Line", I concentrated on life outside of home which mostly consisted of line ups of bubbled couples and distancing singles waiting for shopping, waiting for appointments and ensuring a comforting umbrella of safety.
Like every artist around the world, this year has been a challenge. On the other hand "we" have discovered new ways to work. New ways to communicate. And new ways to express what's going on with ourselves and the world.
I have always been influenced by my environment. That isn't just the geography of my neighbourhood. It includes what I see, what I can hear, what I smell and what I am experiencing as a whole. It is immersive. And now that includes our common, shared experience of this worldwide pandemic. My hubby says, "PANdemic means worldwide, stop saying, Worldwide!" But it just feels right to say the word WORLDWIDE. It brings home the magnitude of the situation.
So, YES, my work this past year has been influenced, guided and molded by the pandemic (notice, no worldwide word was used here). A few images below will explain part of that journey.
The titles may explain what each of these early small works are expressing. "The Path We've Been On!" clearly shows our wavy path on the murky ground of uncertainty. Fluid, dark but with moments of brief sparks of hope. Remember how we thought IT was over last summer? "Safely Inside" depicts our retreat back to our homes to keep ourselves safe. Last summer this was the ONLY way to feel and be safe. "One More May Enter" reminisces about that time when we were forming, selecting and enjoying our limited circles of family and friends hesitantly opening our doors to people one at a time but still keeping everyone at a socially "comfortable" distance.
I am preoccupied by the intuitive journey that paint takes me on with its colour and texture when working with layers that can be revealed through scratching back, rubbing away or lifting, to bring back the history of the previous layers.