It’s been a difficult year for so many, being separated from family and friends and the upsetting news of illness, and even, tragically, of death.
And it’s hard not to feel blue during lockdown.
But if you look hard enough, there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful from a new-found sense of community, exploration and discovery of local areas to an appreciation of key workers.
Here at Skylark Galleries we wanted to pause to count our blessings. Here are just a few of the things for which we are truly grateful:
As the year draws to a close, I’m thankful on a number of counts:
1. I’m alive, after contracting the loooooong version of the illness—and have not killed any of my loved ones during lockdown. Not funny, but I am a passionate creature! You most certainly wouldn’t want to marry me, and not just because I’m already taken.
2. I was prevented from painting my way across Europe, with all my beloved cities locked up, including the one I live in—London. So instead, I painted my way across the local jungle of the National Trust, Petts Wood.
I used to loathe landscape painting, (oh please, everyone with a brush can do it!), but as I approached the subject with the intent of creating something other than the usual bore, avoiding the obvious, going after patterns and colours, I developed a new technique. A bit crazy, very free, very abstract but still recalling the subject… and I’m very glad of it.
This technical breakthrough would not have happened without having been forced to paint something every single day that was so simple and obvious but also forgiving.
3. I was propelled into the future, to offer online courses in impressionistic palette knife painting with bonus ongoing IT tutorial for my students—haha, I would never have considered myself an IT guru!
The fruits of all this were my poppies series, painted in a semi-abstract, crazy-happy style, belying all my personal battles in the background. Reaching the poppy field was a 45-minute walk every day; it kept me going, even though the effort was great with my lungs not cooperating.
Many photographs and sketches later, I decided to paint the poppies in their most fleeting state: constantly dancing in the slightest breeze, the colours catching the sun then plunging into shadows, the picture never finished—you have to look and find the flower again and again, to observe it.
I also took my students on a virtual tour of the same fields, and the demo studies I did during the online class led to the two large works, now varnished and framed.
They declare the victory, despite all challenges, a testament to the glory and also to the fragility of life. Here (above and below) are the paintings; enjoy as you ponder your own victories this amazing year.
1. To know what a Gratitude list is, and what its for.
2. To be sober one day at a time.
3. To be able to feed my self and have a warm bed at night. Thanks to others who have been helping me through an interesting and hell year of medical treatment. Most unpleasant.
4. For my Sister and Brother who are holding the rest of the family together.
5. To have somewhere to sell my Art work. And the rallying forced cooperation. Needs must if we survive.
6. To have access to our magnificent Sacred Thames and know of the healing spring, wells, and holy places of London. Earthstars. London City of Revelation.
7. Knowing what it means to ‘Keep it simple’
8. For the support that people have given without expecting a return favour. So many.
9. An over 60s travel card.
10. Learning. To keep quiet.. Knowing I am learning.
11. Taking part in the online Chi Gong class over the enforced lock up. The imprisonment gave me a chance to slow down. Now I take part I a real class which is 2 hours. A great improvement.
12. Enough… To know instinctively when enough is enough.
In my 65 years I am fortunate to have been blessed with so many reasons to be grateful…Where to begin? Here are some of them:
My mum and dad for the tough lives they lived, and for encouraging the artist in me.
My Nannie Lilley (mum’s mum) for her constant love and support.
My son for all the love and joy he brings to my life.
My loving partner, my soulmate, my dance partner who shares all life’s ups and downs.
My health, I am so glad to be fit and healthy, I love to move and dance.
My senses, through which I experience all the wonders of the world.
My family and friends, and the amazing Skylark community who are all so supportive.
My deep habit of daily meditation, which runs as a calm current throughout my day.
Living where I do, near enough to Central London but with green spaces nearby.
My local community, which is filled with many kind and creative people.
Having a garden where I can sit and watch the flowers grow.
Being part of the amazing human family, enjoying all the gifts we have to offer each other.
All the beauty I see around me and the awesome healing power of nature.
This wonderful planet, ‘Mother Earth’ — our only home, our giver of life, for all the unexpected wonders it gives us each day, such as a smile from a child, a reflection in a raindrop, the blue of a summer sky, a burst of music from an open window, a forest of wind turbines, giving hope of a cleaner, greener future.
All those working tirelessly around the world to protect our environment and indigenous people and to support biodiversity.
My over 60s Oyster card — giving me freedom of the city I love.
My bike, keeping me fit since 1983!
Let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen, to love with our
whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee… to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, to be this vulnerable means that we’re alive. Brené Brown
In a year that has been one of the most challenging we have known, the one thing that I’ve reflected upon, and feel is incredibly important in my life, is gratitude.
During this pandemic we have seen people we know become ill, people we know pass away and people we know striving to keep their lives going under enormous pressure. We’ve seen the NHS saving lives and fighting to keep people alive. We’ve seen neighbours helping neighbours, friends being there when the times have been tough and loved ones separated for months on end. We have a lot to be grateful for: love, friends and community.
Here at Skylark, at the beginning of lockdown, we were a community who had met at gatherings or in the gallery but some of us barely knew each other. We knew each other’s art and through our art we are vulnerable, we bare our souls, put our emotions on the line and expose ourselves to judgement. That can be tough. With our gallery director, Gill Hickman, at the helm we have a supportive, loving community led by someone who wants the best for everyone and has gone the extra mile to make sure that Skylark survives COVID-19. She lives by example and has led the way to keep Skylark Galleries going through lockdown. I’m so grateful for her inspiration, her leadership, her understanding, her courage and her friendship.
I’m grateful for the way we all celebrate individuality in our art and for the mutual respect. I’m grateful for the regular Zoom meetings where we have got to know each other and have been able to express our ideas, plans and concerns and, through all of this, have stemmed beautiful friendships, an online gallery, a new physical gallery, social media, a pop-up gallery, shared ideas and creativity.
We are a community of artists grateful to have a creative outlet and support when things are challenging. I know that when the paintbrush dries up through anxiety, that there is a community who understands. I know that when I’ve completed a commission there’s a community that shares joy. We are a community who celebrates each other’s achievements and success stories. We are a community who support each other through our ups and downs, with sickness and grief. We are a community who are there for each other and understand. For some of us the outlet for our feelings through our art is compulsive and has an added energy. We can be grateful to have the support of others who are creating beauty in some of these dark times.
I’m grateful to have nature around me, the sky, the trees, the seasons, the flowers, the wind, the rain and the sun. I’m grateful to be able to rejoice when the trees turn orange outside my back door, the sky turns pink in a sunset or the tiny spider weaving his web becomes my focus. I am grateful.
Above all, I’m grateful for the simple things in life — I give thanks for my shower in the morning, the cooked meal at the end of the day and the conversations in between, with people who mean so much. I’m grateful for the pot of freshly made jam left on my doorstep, the neighbour who puts my bin out and the drawing of a rainbow from the little girl who lives down the road. I miss a hug, I miss my family but I’m grateful for my Skylark family.
Gratitude is about saying thank you and giving back. Thank You to my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students, my neighbours. Thank you to the man in the queue at the supermarket who let me go first, the lady at the pharmacy who smiled when she gave me my prescription, the girl in the park who waved. Thank you to all our collectors in the gallery who take the time to write beautiful letters and to my customer who gave me a bouquet of flowers when I delivered his painting.
It’s about the simple things in life, knowing that we belong and are part of something more than ourselves.
No artwork is complete without a viewer. So without you, there would be:
So, as this difficult year draws to a close, we thank all the visitors to our south bank and online galleries – and our customers who have supported us.
May we wish you all a Happy Christmas, in the hope that you too have much to be grateful for.
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