Long Lockdown - thoughts and ideas

England had its first lockdown on the 9th of March 2020. We thought it would be a lovely break, but little did we know. I read a ton of books back to back and painted several portraits in a mixed media notebook - mostly friends and people who inspire me. I also practiced sketching by turning my siblings and nephew into adorable animal hybrids. Well, I mainly gave them the ears of their favourite animals.

I also started keeping a mixed media A4 book where I practice painting oil portraits and hope to see some progress as I continue to fill up the book.

1) 2Dottie's Eyelash Begonia"; 2) "Bird of Paradise"; 3) Cherry Blossom Dreams" (2020) RAH
1) 2Dottie's Eyelash Begonia"; 2) "Bird of Paradise"; 3) Cherry Blossom Dreams" (2020) R.A. Holland

Around August 2020 I started this blog and thoroughly intended to update it every Friday, rain or shine. Unfortunately, the latest Christmas lockdown also meant homeschooling, which can really cause a damper on one's inspiration. I spent some time trying to catch-up on reading and painting a little, but also had to be constantly available for teaching Literature, English, Maths (do you remember all your Trigonometry? So basically relearning and then teaching), Biology - I now know more about the circulatory system and how cholesterol forms, French, History and some Geography... I am sure there's more, but I can't remember. Then I also had to make sure my kid exercised and got fresh air, which was always a battle because teenagers would rather stay on the computer gaming and chatting with their friends. Is everyone fed? Online grocery shopping is also making sure you didn't forget some key ingredient and hoping that the supermarket had everything on your list. Food... Laundry... Dishes... it's a long list. It all takes a toll.

So, you would think that making art, trying to promote oneself, maintaining a blog because I find it interesting and am able to explore the art world and discuss it - even if I am technically doing that with myself. Reading, learning, researching, coming up with themes to explore in my paintings. Social media presence. Oh, that one is interesting as Instagram introduced reels to compete with TikTok and then some artists thought it a great idea to try out TikTok, as it is popular. But then it's easy to create Reels content and put it on TikTok and vice-versa. Let us now study the algorithm, see what works, how about hashtags? Yes, of course, research, how many hashtags are too many, which ones make a difference... SaatchiArt, how to sell on, there, how to become a featured artists, there are millions of people on there, how will they find your needle in a haystack art? Do I now promote myself harder on social media?!?

Now, if you are exhausted reading all that, imagine your 2021 artist. Now imagine your 2021 artist who is: a woman, a house manager, a mother, a partner.... everyone wanting her attention 24/7.

You decide you are so overwhelmed, you collapse on the sofa for a short while and take a break. But you still have 9035342456456265462 thoughts running through your brain. Including the famous "Am I a good enough parent?" because as your teenager goes through changes, mood changes, and so many many other things, you can't focus on your job (art) because you are constantly being told it's a hobby and the entire home dynamic is centered in such a way that no matter how hard you try to focus on succeeding, it is never considered important enough and now you need to give attention to this or that because it's more important and then your head explodes....

"I Dare You to Love Me" (2020) R.A. Holland
"I Dare You to Love Me" (2020) R.A. Holland

As you can imagine, I had fun painting "I Dare You to Love Me" and it is inspired by Gaia, Mother Earth. But now that I look at it, after writing the rant above, it feels like there could be some many more interpretations, like a woman drowning and burning up with all expectations that are usually put on her and yet, here you go, have some flowers for being so wonderful.... And you just keep that placid face lest they call you crazy or tell you you are overreacting.

Personally, I have come a long way from that obedient daughter who always did what was best for others - generally terrible for me. I learned to stand my ground. But work/life balance, where you work from home and life keeps constantly intruding, is a lot harder. So, it seems to me that, if you have the opportunity to get a studio space that isn't within your home, and you are still an emerging artist, that move could be totally worth it. Make contacts, make artist friends, have a network where you help each other out. Of course, during the pandemic though, that opportunity also went out the window... At this rate, I can't wait for 2025.... far enough in the future that things will hopefully have improved by the, right?