Sketchbook Project Results

Cottage Garden Flowers

The final piece from my first Sketchbook. Inspired bymy unexpected gift of a bunch of flowers and  the beautiful works of Elizabeth Blackadder. Watercolour on Two Rivers paper.

Sketchbook 2 is based on my faithful and hopeless studio assistant Basil. He has been my constant companion through the lock down period and he is thoroughly worth the replacement of chewed up studio equipment, 

Basil Sketchbook

The sketches were taken from both life and photographs (as he cannot keep still. The one of him running is from memory. It has been my joy to see him run – he is very fast! Below are the paintings of Basil. All acrylic on board and 6″ x 4″ in old money.

Sketchbook 3 was inspired by the Zoom dance/keep fit Classes offered on line – I never normally get chance to do these – offered by Dancefest they involved 30 minutes of me flying around the studio in various, far from elegant, poses. The book is based on the first dance delivered from the lovely Lis Winter, from Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I will just add that the costume was added by myself. 


Finally we come to the overall piece. This is my work that represents this time in lockdown and isolation with fear of the COVID 19 virus. It is a still life (no surprises there for those who know me) and to brings together the thoughts from my sketchbooks and how art has been used to represent society in history.



The Nature Morte still life tradition came into its own in the mid-seventeenth century. Later the French were to use the term to suggest layered symbolism and reminders of the transience of life, with its ever present threat of death. The dancer sketchbook reminded me of Poussin’s painting A Dance to the Music of Time the painting that also inspired Henri Matisse to paint dancers. So my painting started life based on the painting below.

Matisse Still Life With Dance

The dancers were originally shown – maybe they will go back in at some point – paintings are never truly finished until they leave my keeping.

About the painting.

The flowers represent both the transience of nature and sharing company, recognising social distancing, in my garden. The bowl of fruit is indicative of normal life that will, in time, decay and this combines with the symbolised lemons, taken from a jug bought at The Range, shown beneath the flowers that will remain forever as an interpretation (Matisse uses the real and the represented in his work). The coffee cup and its surrounding rectangle, the latter the size of an iPad, represent my son in isolation in Aberystwyth. The carton of vitamin D  pills (bottom right) represent my daughter who has had to stay indoors for this entire time. The chair (top left) with pink cushion represent myself and my dog set in isolation, hence the large space surrounding it. The rose pink box around the whole painting suggests an imprisonment that is not bleak or without future. Finally the dark blue square, behind the flowers, was added to balance the composition but perhaps it is a reminder that life shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Contemporary artist Nick Pace proposes that a still life should contain each of the following:

something ephemeral – flowers and fruit

something permanent – my studio setting

Something of low value, but great personal value – the coffee cup and box of vitamin supplements representing my children

something new – the pattern on the table cloth showing lemons was taken from the picnic jug.