Normally at this time of the year, I give a little review of the previous year listing the highlights etc but here I sit, pen in hand struggling to come up with anything. It doesn’t seem like I have too much to talk about when it comes to 2021. Of course, it was the second year of covid and unlike 2020 it was a full covid year so to speak. So last year it really affected my practice. Not all bad, every cloud and all that, there has been a lot of positives so let’s have a look at what I’ve been doing for the last year.
I had no solo exhibitions due to obvious reasons, you can’t have an opening night under restrictions and with the uncertainty of when they’ll end, it’s really hard to plan anything so no exhibitions for me last year.
Ok, so that’s the doom and gloom bit, on the upside I created 4 murals in 2021. Two in Camolin with a train theme, one in Riverchapel and one in Courtown. I always love painting big and these are as big as they come and the response to them has been fantastic.
Another highlight of the year for me was creating the Square Away project – daily gouache paintings for each day in April. These daily projects are always fun to do, but I particularly enjoyed painting different locations while we were still in lockdown. These were suggested by my followers on social media so a little bit of interactive fun.
This year also saw me dipping my toe into the HD waters of online classes for the first time, Zoom lessons wasn’t a road I ever saw myself having to go down but due to the lack of any in-person classes and so many requests I just had to try and I’m glad to say I did as I did enjoy them, and even though they are nothing like teaching in the studio, they were a great alternative!
Also on the teaching front, last year saw my debut in Gorey Community School for adult education with my course of Watercolour for Beginners which will also run again this year starting in February. And then there was my online Demo and Mini Workshop with Etchr, with a seascape in gouache which introduced my art to more followers from the other side of the globe.
In February I teamed up with Aine from Tara Hill Flowers and created a floral watercolour based on one of Aines bouquets which we then offered as a part of Valentine’s special, a great idea I thought. I’m not one to seek the limelight but in March there was a nice article about me in the local paper which helped spread the word about my art practice.
I also took part in the PLUID blanket project – a collaborative work of Irish artists where everyone painted a small 15cm x 15cm square which were then all exhibited together in Farmleigh House in Dublin.
When summer came and restrictions eased somewhat I took advantage and headed west and for the first time I painted on the Kerry coast. We went to Tralee and I couldn’t resist but to paint the ocean in Banna Strand, Ballybunion and Fenit. Truly magical spots. Then later in the year, I headed not so far down this time but on a little painting trip to Waterford. Just me exploring the views and painting. Total bliss! I don’t know whether it’s lockdown or Covid but for me, it was a record year for commissions including a large one of Flower Waves for the Seafield Hotel which was a tough one but so rewarding.
Normally I give a few workshops in various plein air festivals and having missed out the year before due to lockdowns I was really looking forward to them but then disaster struck and due to illness, again covid strikes, I missed both Dublin Plein Air painting festival and Art in the Open, so it was a double Hammer blow of missing the festivals and also having to cancel my classes.
At the end of summer, I got to paint the live performances in Johnstown Castle as a part of the Castle-Lake Arts Festival. This was another first for me, sure I’ve done life drawing before but not while they were singing and dancing on stage. Such a joy to capture all that movement on my canvas. That was really fun and a great atmosphere. Great music and a fantastic location.
For someone who to begin with was struggling to summarise the year I seem to have written a lot so maybe last year wasn’t as quiet and uneventful as I first thought. Yes, there were a few lows and disappointments but there were also lots of highs and some fun stuff so here’s hoping this year brings more of the same except no more covid, please no more covid…