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Cultivating Creativity - Highlights

Highlights and reflections from a virtual art course.

Contains bright colours and copious amounts of gesso.

Flight of Fantasy

(Collage, Gouache and Chalk Pastels)

When this course began at the start of June, We'd been in lockdown for a while at this point and it was really starting to get to me. I would only leave the house for a "government sanctioned daily exercise walk"*, armed and ready with my trusty camera or to go shopping once every couple of weeks. The days were starting to blur together and it seemed time had begun to lose meaning entirely. There were times I only knew what day it was because people started clapping for the NHS outside their homes at 8pm - reminding me that it was in fact, a Thursday.

While I am no stranger to having to work from home, flexibly and under my own initiative (as someone who's been self-employed for a while now, I was more adapted to this than some), the absolute lack of any kind of structure was starting to do me in. So when this course started it was so amazing to have something fixed, at a definite time, on definite day each week. It gave me the opportunity to ground myself, get my centre back a little. The sessions quickly became the highlight of my week, something to look forward to in the seemingly endless days of Lockdown.

The main purpose of this course was to encourage play and exploration, experimenting with your materials and any ideas you make have, no matter how bonkers (and as you'll see, there's a fair amount of that in here). We'd have a new theme or medium each week to get us started. Each session is delivered virtually using everybody's new best friend - video conferencing. Which not exactly the same as an in person course within a creative space - it definitely served its purpose. We were encouraged to create and share our own spaces with each other. As the weeks went on we became a real social unit. Our tutor is incredible, very friendly, caring and buzzing with ideas and creativity. We would spend the sessions encouraging each other's creativity and showing off our artworks either in progress over our webcams or posting the finished pieces to a purpose built forum for feedback. I remember this always being my favourite part of my art college / uni days. Simply soaking up the creative atmosphere and seeing what everyone else is getting up to.

This course is ongoing so there'll probably be more like this in the future - it's been such a marvellous experience so far. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this, It came just at the right time and long may it continue! Below are some of my favourite pieces I have made during these sessions:

Self Portrait

(Charcoal and Chalk Pastel)

I hadn't done a proper self-portrait since pretty early in my B.A. This isn't something I usually do, not at all so it was quite a challenge to start with. Nonetheless, I persevered and it was worth it, I was so chuffed with the result!

I'd have quite happily tinkered with this for hours but as with most things, one of the hardest part of being an artist is finally deciding when something is finished. I soon discovered this would be a common theme for me on these sessions.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

(Felt-Tip Pen & Colour Pencil)

I was inspired to create this after I was challenged to think of a song titles that featured colours. Once again, I have proven to be very bad to stick to just one colour.

While this could be neater I am still quite enamoured by the idea. I might turn this into a graphic design project somewhere further down the line.


(Mixed Media)

In one of the earliest sessions we were asked to make a collection of things around our home that were our favourite colour. My favourite colour is apparently "as many as possible!"


(Postcard, Gesso & Red Paint)

This session was all about manipulating existing images, so out came the gesso!

I've been using gesso quite a lot on this course, it's just so much fun. So when faced with a random postcard of a Komodo Dragon, I of course decide to turn her into an upper class Edwardian child.

Henry Somerset, 3rd Duke of Beufort has a gay old time at the seaside

(Postcard, Gesso & Gouache)

Here's my absolute favourite piece I've made while on this course. Similar to "Tabitha" above, I was given a random postcard and a tub of gesso to play with. The original image was this duke posing from the waist up against a fairly uninspiring background. I thought "he's been standing here for a couple of century's now, he could do with a holiday" - so that's exactly what I did!

It's very silly, but oh so utterly pleasing and fun to make!


(Willow Weaving & Photography)

The view from my childhood bedroom

(Gesso, Gouache & Pencil)

This piece took about a week to finish in and among. Building up the scene from back to front, layer upon layer.

I then gesso'd over the edges to make it neat enough for the window scene to work. But I also decided to not paint it as it would have drawn attention away from the beautiful garden my mother's been working and reworking for over 20 years now.

Inside Outside, A Still Life

(Chalk Pastels)

Recently we've been working with the theme of inside and outside. We've spent a couple of weeks exploring ways of how to portray this. This week was a study of various fruits and vegetables I had to hand, getting some cool cross-sections of a lime and a red onion, a study of the inside and the outside of an apple, and an interesting "halfway house" depiction of a partially opened satsuma.

*This one will be fun explaining to any grandkids someday...

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