Line and colour

I watched the cherry blossom bloom and fall.  Then came the May blossom, until it too faded.  Dandelion petals shrivelled and became clocks.  The grass, uncut, flowered into lilac ripples.  Clumps of cow parsley unfurled and frothed.  It has rained only once in weeks of hot, dry days.  Plants yellow and crisp.  Leaves are seared from the trees.  Nature shows that time is passing, but there is little else to mark the passage of the season.  A sprained knee has kept me close to home and each day feels much the same.  Days blend into weeks.  The solstice is only a month away.  I’ve found I haven’t much to say.

I have moved from words to vision.  From letter to line.  I painted the songbirds that were my jewels of hope among the thorns of winter.  I drew life models along with thousands of other people through the BBC and had my sketch of a woman with a cello mentioned on the programme!  I imagined a version of ‘home’ in response to a theme on Grayson Perry’s Art Club.  I painted a portrait of Rankin with scores of others through Sky TV.  Now, I am painting illustrations for poems.  I have had nothing to say in words, but my creativity has flowed out in pencil and paint.

When I draw I try not to pursue perfection.  Too often when I want something to be good, it strips away the enjoyment, or stops me from doing it at all.  But there has been no higher purpose to my painting.  There has been just me, sat at the table with a drawing board, overlooking the yard, following lines and colours.   It doesn’t matter if they’re good pictures.  They weren’t made to hang on a wall.  Nor do they have any great meaning.  They are just shapes on paper or canvas that record, if anything, a slice of contentment in my day.

There is a movement towards recovery.  Lockdown is shifting.  We are allowed to go outside all we wish now.  There are dates for the re-opening of schools, shops and, eventually, libraries.  There are more cars on the road.  The grass has been mown in the park.  But mostly, movement is elsewhere.  It is not here, at my dining table, where I work and I paint.  It isn’t out there, where the washing sways in the sun and the plants could do with some water.  The children’s playground is still padlocked and tangled with weeds.  There are still queues to get in the supermarkets.  I’m not ready yet to leave this bubble.  I’ll stay here for as long as I can, in this place where creativity can flourish at its own pace.  

117 thoughts on “Line and colour

  1. There is something so satisfying about allowing creativity to be expressed through art work. I used to draw and paint more in my younger days– I liked seeing what was waiting behind the scenes to be expressed.

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  2. Your drawings are lovely. I am so pleased that you have found a creative outlet that satisfies so many levels. We are having an unusually cool, damp spring after a mild winter. All of our flowers have lasted longer than normal because of the comparative chill. My bubble is getting claustrophobic so I’m ready to push the boundaries a bit further. I have a hair appointment (that has been postponed four times since early April.) Enjoy this time of between and I hope your next stage will be productive and fulfilling.

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  3. I enjoyed this post and you are a very gifted artist. Your art may not seem as much as you might think it should be in order to be hung upon a wall but they are very good pieces nonetheless and I have enjoyed your sharing of them. I hope you are well.

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  4. oh goodness, Andrea. I LOVE this. Your words, as they do often do, seem to speak out the words of my own soul right where I’m at. Thank you for sharing.

    I particularly loved the two paintings:
    “Miles to go”
    “Do not go gentle”
    Both of them spoke deeply to me.

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  5. I love all your sketches and paintings. I think a lot of us have entered into little bubbles of creativity. I know I have. Our bubble lives are more or less over in New Zealand but I find I almost resent the noise and busy bustle in the streets again.

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  6. Wow, you have another amazing talent. I admire those who can paint and draw. I have no artistic ability. I really enjoyed seeing what you can do with all those colors. How exciting that you had some displayed on the BBC. Thank you for sharing these.

    I have a new found interest in birds that I hadn’t had before, so I liked seeing those birds you painted. Do you have cardinals in your part of the world? I just love my orange guy (Zeus) that visits on occasion.

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  7. Wonderful! They’re all beautiful and amazing, but I especially love the woman and horse in the dark wood.

    I take to heart your words, “When I draw I try not to pursue perfection.” When this pandemic hit I ordered some basic art materials – pastels, pencils, watercolors – wanting to create, but feeling stymied by my lack of skill and knowledge. I gave up, failing before even truly trying. You’ve inspired me to try again.

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  8. Such wonderful talent, you have, Andrea. And I see why the woman with cello was mentioned. I really love it.
    I think all your paintings and drawings are beautiful. I hope you do hang some up…

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  9. Andrea, sometimes there are just not the words yet your wonderful paintings say so much! I’m glad you have found another creative and artistic way and these are a delight! The birds are painted with love and sensitivity, I love the outline sketches and the the drama of the lady in red pushing back the darkness captures my mood exactly!

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  10. You’re a very accomplished artist, Andrea. Beautiful economy of line and almost Fauvist colour use. I love the songbirds especially. Part of me doesn’t want to leave the bubble either.

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  11. It’s hard to believe that the summer solstice is not far off! Another turning point, another season on the horizon. For now though, yes, let’s just stay where we are in these timeless moments………….
    Thank you for highlighting that if you want something to be good (or perfect, in my case!) it takes away from savouring the moment. This self-isolation should be used as a retreat.

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  12. Your creativity is flourishing in lockdown. Best wishes for your knee’s recovery (and I love the cello drawing too…the sketch of home is another favourite). 🦋

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  13. So glad to hear you’re on a creative roll – it’s the lifeline during lockdown for most of us (he)artists. I hit a wall (creative block) a few weeks ago and haven’t yet regained my project focus. Which has lead to a lack of overall focus! But all-in-all we’re doing fine…and loved ones on the ‘front lines’ are still healthy though bone tired.
    I liked seeing your artwork, especially the song birds in the trees…may their song fill your soul and spill over into your (he)artwork!

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  14. “I’ll stay here for as long as I can, in this place where creativity can flourish at its own pace.”….True words, these. Lovely words. You are what I like to call “scary talented,” and it’s a pleasure to be able to share in your talent.

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  15. How wonderful, Andrea! Thank you for sharing your creations in line and colour with us!
    I’m not at all surprised that your Woman with Cello was singled out. It has a great freedom of line about it. You can hear the notes about to sound. I also particularly love Narcissus. Again, a great feeling of movement about to take place.
    Judging from what my fellow creatives have said, I think many of us have moved sideways from our main form of creativity out into something else during lockdown. I certainly had no headspace for painting for the first two months but it is a great relief to be back in the studio now.
    Congratulations for all your achievements. One multi-talented Lady!

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    • Thanks Francesca – I was quite pleased with Narcissus – when that pose came on I was sure I would never be able to capture it, but I just focused on the shapes and it came out much better than I’d thought! I’m sure your time away from the studio will serve you well in the coming months!

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  16. Thanks for sharing your process and drawings Andrea. I can relate to having no words. I’m finding it harder and harder to write. Drawing sounds more primal, just you and the moment. I enjoyed drawing when I was a child and have considered taking it up to see if there is still joy in drawing. I’m glad the lockdown is easing for you. Take care.

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  17. Andrea, it is wonderful how you move between words and drawing. Both working so harmoniously together. Wall or not, I do love your/drawings. You do right in staying for now and as long as it is right for you. Apart from walks and next week having a meal with my daughter and family in their garden.
    That is worth a song.:)

    miriam

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  18. Gorgeous drawings, Andrea. How nice to have another outlet when words are elusive.

    I recently returned to work, and I work with the public (bartender) so it’s full on. A tough transition for an introvert. Enjoy the bubble while you can.

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  19. I see you are a person of many talents, not just a gifted word smith. I to think creativity is very important especially in times such as these.

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  20. I love the bird paintings Andrea, the composition with the birds and the branches really caught my eye. I too have been more drawn to art than words during this lockdown. Although I offered to do a painijng for my young nephew, and he wants a star wars theme, which will be a bit of a challenge! The days you describe sound somewhat idyllic, with your slices of creative contentment. And the sense of time passing in nature, but our days seeming the same….yes, I often dont know what day of the week it is, and how did we get to be at the end of May already? How to keep the good parts of this lockdown experience going once things get busy and more normal again, that’s what I’ve been wondering.

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    • Thanks Sarah, the blue tit was less successful than the others, but mostly I like the result. I’ve just finished a portrait of Noel Fielding after painting along with Sky Portrait Artist of the Week 🙂 My week isn’t as contented as it sounds – I do have to work from home 4 days a week, but still, it’s a lot quieter than rushing around outside.

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  21. I absolutely love all your pictures, Andrea. My favourites are the birds & Miles to Go. Out of interest, what type of paints are you using? They are very vibrant colour — the blues in particular. You have inspired me to get going with my painting and drawing now. I think you’re a natural. Some people go to art college and they get too self-conscious about their art, which often spoils it. The same goes for a lot of writers who study creative writing at uni. There is too much of boxing-up talent to fit labels and squeezing the heart out of it. You could definitely illustrate your own book covers, if you ever decided to go down the route of self-publishing. You are very gifted x

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    • Thanks Sarah! I’m using acrylics – I do have to stop myself sometimes from overworking it until the colours go muddy, and I haven’t quite got to grips with flesh tones yet, but that’s fine – I did another portrait yesterday with Sky of Noel Fielding and I’m much happier with that one than the last….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Keep up the good work, Andrea 🙂 I’ve never been that good with water colours for the same reason of overworking them, although the result there is a soggy and crinkled piece of paper! Might try again and see if I can make things work by being a little less zealous. And I agree – flesh colour is so difficult to get right.

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  22. You create with paint and lines as well as you do with words. May your knee heal so you will be ready when it is right for you to leave your bubble. Some of us are reluctant to go out again and prefer solitude.

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  23. Hi Andrea, Its always wonderful when one of your posts shows up in my Reader. I too have been struggling with words lately – at least words for a blog post – so I understand your state. Interesting how your creativity needed an outlet, though, and you turned to painting. Fascinating. You’ve reminded me of the importance of play in creative endeavours and that we shouldn’t always be focused on a “perfect” outcome. Or any outcome at all.

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  24. I love to read your words, Andrea, but admiring your paintings is a joy, too! I hope one day to purchase a sketch book and fill its pages with imperfect line drawings, you’re an inspiration so perhaps I will. I especially love the songbirds in the trees, the woman playing the cello and the piece titled, Home. They would make colourful art cards, Andrea!

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  25. Hello, Andrea; I hope that your knee recovers quickly. Don’t let Winston set a grueling pace, enjoy taking it steady, and don’t forget to milk the sympathy vote.
    Having your own bubble is fantastic, necessary even, but spending too much time in it ain’t good; you have to leave it occasionally. I’ve spent the past nine years creating my bubble, my Shangri-La; it’s fantastic, Birds, Bees, and all things wonderful fill my days; but, I’ve developed I.O.U (Intolerance of Outside Uncertainty). Keep your bubble, Andrea, but don’t let it become your prison.
    I really like your paintings, especially ‘Miles to go’. It conjures up many thoughts.
    I look forward to hearing from you again soon.
    Enjoy the Summer. Take care.

    Mick.

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    • Thanks Mick, the knee is much better after doing physio exercises. It’s true that it will be difficult to go back out to work again when I have to, and I do prefer this quieter world, but I have still been going out into the world, so it will come eventually. I hope you’re well and still staying safe, always a pleasure to hear from you.

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  26. This is beautiful, Andrea – you still have those words! But I also love your artwork and the message you send with it. Thank you too, for articulating that reluctance to leave the bubble. I feel the same way but immediately quash such sentiments for fear of seeming to be selfishly content. May you have many more slices of contentment within each day 🙂

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    • Thanks Richard. ‘Miles to go’ was in response to Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ – I particularly love those lines ‘miles to go before I sleep’ – I find them very evocative and yes, there is a story there somewhere….

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  27. ‘I watched the cherry blossom bloom and fall.  Then came the May blossom, until it too faded.  Dandelion petals shrivelled and became clocks.  The grass, uncut, flowered into lilac ripples.  Clumps of cow parsley unfurled and frothed.’

    What beautiful words which I shall hold long in memory. Thank you Andrea.

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  28. I had no idea you were such a talented artist! And I love that there is no objective to it–that you are just allowing it to flow through you. I also hear you on the bubble. We are reopening too–but I am being cautious and not yet ready to jump back into the fray. If anything, this period has shown me I’m sometimes better off without it. Hugs to you, Andrea.

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  29. Oh my lord, you are creatively brilliant in so many ways. I’m trying hard, really hard, to not be jealous. I love the line that you’re not trying to “pursue perfection.” I know, this is what I feel/think/believe. There is such perfection in not being perfect. I don’t believe in perfect in writing or drawing or cooking or LIVING. Perfection is dry and unemotional and unattainable just in the effort to be perfect. Love and compassion and kindness and inner pain and joy are all imperfectly perfect. I respond to your paintings in a surprising way – they make me happy! So please, stay in your bubble as long as you can (although I do hope your sprained knee is better). I love living in a bubble also. I guess you can say we are both “bubble heads.” 🙂

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  30. A sprained knee is really painful and makes walking and (especially) going up and down stairs so difficult. I hope it is continuing to mend.
    I have found this lockdown very difficult to deal with and can’t concentrate for any length of time on anything. I have become anxious which has exacerbated all the symptoms of any medical problems I have. I have though, appreciated the quiet, calm and the skies without their con-trails. The weeks have drifted by and like you, I am amazed to find it is nearly mid-summer!
    Your paintings are lovely. I am pleased you are being kind to yourself and enjoying the painting for its own sake and not aiming at perfection. That is a fault I have and always manages to halt any creativity I might aspire to.

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  31. Andrea, it’s always a delight to find a new post from you. Thanks for sharing your art work. the pursuit of perfection prevents a lot of wonderful art from coming into the world.
    I’m very sorry about your knee. That kind of pain is miserable. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Hugs on the wing!

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  32. Lovely to see your creativity Andrea. I think it has been a saviour for many of us during this difficult time. I have also enjoyed Grayson Perry’s Art Club, though I didn’t complete any artwork for it. I haven’t had much inspiration or inclination for writing but I have been creative in other ways – playing with paper mache, decoupage, singing and songwriting – not sure if I’ll share any of it yet! I think coming out of our bubbles and back to some sort of normality will be difficult. Very best wishes to you.

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  33. I think that’s great that you can just sit and draw … AND without self-criticizing. It’s the best way to go. And how interesting that your brain made that shift from writing … I’m sure that it is somehow serving your higher purpose in creating. Yes, the pandemic “bubble” has had some advantages. Keep drawing!

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