Banishing the Lockdown Blues - story of a painting
My water series was mainly monochrome on silvery aluminium panels. My creative spirit was locked down as I missed seeing my little grandkids. I did FaceTime story-telling and painting sessions with my 4 year-old granddaughter Lily who loves drawing and painting flowers.
On her first visit to me when Lockdown was eased I took out a large canvas to show Lily how I can paint flowers too. She quipped with the self-assurance of a four year old, “let me show you”! I passed the brush on to her and took a few tips! Then when she had gone home I went back to the canvas and captured the love of that reunion in this joyous sump-tuous peony in shades of bright pink. It made me ponder on the significance of the short seasons peonies have and yet the huge impact they make. The little rotund buds grow big-ger and burst into our gardens with an abundance of petals and keep saying “look at me”. Then they quickly fade and fall. Unlike roses there is no second season. That’s it!
While for the Chinese, peonies are a symbol of wealth and prosperity, for me they are like the glorious gift of childhood. The bud - the cuddly baby and the flower the carefree child. Sadly, children grow up fast and their ability to play and laugh with abundance or indeed go wild is tamed, the innocence is lost!
My pleasure from painting this first peony spurred me on to do a few more. We were still in Lockdown and galleries not opened yet, when a friend suggested that I display these paintings in my garden. Then I thought why not contact my local arts centre where I had shown my paintings before and where volunteers were doing the community proud. The cafe was delivering food to those “shielding” and people had started using the garden to meet friends while socially distancing. During Lockdown public and private gardens have offered so much solace both to those who love gardening and even those who don’t will have enjoyed the fresh air and open skies. Nature heals, comforts and delights us if only we stop to look.
The Riverhouse Secret Garden was no longer a secret in the community. I thought how visitors might enjoy my flowers which don’t die! Discussing the idea with Emily Boulting, Director at Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre, we decided to do a dress rehearsal. There were a few visitors in the garden that morning and what joy, when the painting that Lily had started on was chosen by another 4 year-old girl as her favourite!