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Wednesday, 30 September 2020
AN artist from Watlington has created 100 miniature paintings to mark each day of the coronavirus lockdown.
Frances Ackland-Snow began the project as a way of keeping herself busy and connecting with others who may have found the pandemic tough to deal with.
She created a piece of art every day, beginning when the Government first introduced the lockdown in March to when restrictions started to be eased.
Each painting measures 3.5in by 2.5 in, which fits in the palm of a hand, and each one reflects how she was feeling on that day.
They all depict a landscape scene but the colours used vary from the natural to much brighter shades.
On the reverse, Frances has put her signature stamp and also the tally for what day it was during the lockdown.
Frances explained: “Covid-19 was causing so much distress, loss and loneliness, I really wanted to reconnect with people and to help in some way.
“The only way I knew how was through creating art. I knew that I could reach out to others through sharing my paintings and connecting with others, even though we could not do so in person.
“I truly believe in the healing power of art and this continued to drive me through producing the work, not just for me on a personal therapeutic level, but also to reach out to as many people as I could.”
All the paintings are on canvas and she used a variety of paint, such as acrylic, using whatever she had to hand. Each painting would take anything from 30 minutes to all day to produce.
Frances, who has had previous work exhibited internationally, said: “I am a landscape painter, that is my specialism. I normally do much larger paintings.
“This was the first time I have done miniatures, which are a challenge. It was completely new to me. It is incredibly tough to get all the detail in and retain its abstract feel.
“Sometimes it would take half an hour to 40 minutes, sometimes a couple of hours, or sometimes I would keep coming back to it throughout the day.
“The miniatures were painted from my imagination but were inspired by my garden or my daily lockdown walks and how the weather was. The darker colours reflected the more intense way I was feeling, reflecting loss or the collective trauma we all felt when we did not know what was going to happen or the high number of deaths nationally on that particular day. The lighter colours, such as the greens, were used when I was feeling calmer.”
Frances also experimented with materials, which created a more 3D effect, using grass and petals mixed into the paint.
She said: “I wanted the painting to become part of the landscape that I was reflecting, to reflect the turbulence of the time. There is lots of pathetic fallacy, with the weather reflecting the feelings that I had on that day.”
Four weeks into her project Frances decided to exhibit her miniatures “en plein air” and found the perfect place in the Watlington countryside — thanks to a suggestion from her 21-year-old son Jacob.
Frances said: “I had the idea to exhibit my miniatures at the roots of an ancient oak tree, which my son found on our daily lockdown walk. While I was decorating the tree with my paintings on their miniature easels, it felt mystical and magical and reminiscent of childhood memories of decorating a Christmas tree and I was eager to share the magic.
“I took photos of the exhibition at the roots and again shared them via social media. The response was incredible. I realised that it helped people to receive a little gem of positivity, life, nature and art on a daily basis and I felt the need to complete the 100 days.”
Frances, who is set to qualify as a psychotherapist through art, believes the project helped her through the lockdown period.
She said: “These paintings got me through it on a personal level. It made me feel like I had achieved something positive that day and for me the gift of art is being able to share it with others.”
Frances, who is head of art of senior boys at Claires Court School in Maidenhead, added: “Each day I took daily photos of the miniatures and placed them in nature on miniature easels around my back garden and posted them on Instagram and to my school community.
“People said that they couldn’t wait to see the next one as it gave them a bit of a surprise and a lift.”
Frances has had a freestanding frame made to display all 100 of her pieces, allowing you to see both sides, and has created a poster and a photograph album which people can buy.
She said: “The frame allows people to see the front and the back. The tallies on the back are as important as the painting on the front. I have also made them into a poster and also a book the same size as the miniatures.”
Frances says she felt the lockdown was inspiring.
“There are fields at the back of where we live,” she said. “We would go on a daily walk into our beautiful surroundings and would discover new routes, which felt like going back to the fundamentals of being a human being in going back to nature.
“I felt my senses being heightened and I would notice a lot more. I would pick up a leaf after thinking it was my new favourite colour and would go back home and paint with that colour.
“I would notice the different varieties of green, whether it be a sage colour or a silver birch. Lockdown was very inspiring.”
To buy a copy of the poster or photo album, contact Frances through www.creativeminds
31 August 2020
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