I’m delighted to report that I had the first dose of my AstraZeneca Covid vaccination last Friday!
I’m less delighted to report that, as has been the case for some others too, the vaccine had quite a destabilising impact on my equilibrium! I was pretty much laid up for the entire weekend.
I’m fine again now, but the knock on was that I didn’t get as much brush time in as I’ve become accustomed to!
For the painting that I did do, I fear it may have revealed another little known side-effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Now this isn’t scientifically proven – yet – but I can’t help wondering if the vaccine doesn’t have a rather detrimental effect on people’s ability to paint?
First up is an effort that I started off with incredibly high hopes for! The view is of Admiralty Arch in central London looking from the Trafalgar Square side through the arches along The Mall. (Co-incidentally, for later in this post, just through those arches about 150 metres or so, you’ll find the Mall Galleries, where the RI for Painters in Watercolour and the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition present their annual exhibitions.)
Back to this painting though! I had a plan in mind but it became such a struggle, to the point where I abandoned it when it was predominantly a cool grey mess, only to decide to revisit it again in an effort to salvage at least something from it!
I warmed it up a bit, strengthened some of the darks, did a bit of work on the figures and dry brushed an indication of some architectural details and then felt a little bit happier to walk away from it.
At this point, I was totally convinced that my vaccination jab had robbed me of any ability to paint so went back to bed!
I rallied slightly to make a stab at a view of Paris that I’ve painted before back in 2017 – that somehow drew my attention again. I didn’t refer back to the paintings I did in 2017 before starting this version but I felt I had a strong memory of them, especially as I remember selling one of them that same year when I took part in a local art fair.
While there are some moments of this I’m okay with, they’re few and far between. That main figure has a ominous looming presence about it, as if its about to attack the people sat at the tables! It should also have been better balanced on the right hand side, where the image sort of drifts away, but I’d rather given up caring half way through on this one!
I’m still frustrated to think that this painting might represent the sum total of my development as a painter since 2017!
In my vaccine addled state, this was just yet more evidence to support my case of this previously unknown side-effect – so I went back to bed again.
For no other reason than sheer frustration and stubbornness, I decided to return to a painting that I’d started some weeks ago. As I had been disappointed with this ‘start of a painting’, it’s just been lying around taunting me!
The view is of Shoreham Harbour, not far from where I live:
I wasn’t really happy with the this first wash, in particular the reflections of the sky in the water, which is why I’d left it alone for a few weeks. I wasn’t sure whether to go over these washes again or not, but on picking this up again I knew that I wanted to paint the middle section and main focal points as quickly and loosely as possible. In a way, I just wanted to have done with it so I could tape up a new piece of paper!
This is how it turned out:
I didn’t re-touch any of the previous washes aside from adding in the main focal point and reflections and I was surprised that it turned out sort of ok, but still not so ok as to disprove my ‘AstraZeneca robbed me of my ability to paint’ theory!
I’m pleased to be able say that after a few days of enforced rest, I’m now feeling much better.
I’m still not convinced however that I’m totally recovered on the painting front! As I was feeling pretty frustrated with these recent paintings, I followed along with a quick 30-40 minute demo from Alvaro Castagnet that I found on YouTube. I won’t link to it because someone had basically video-d one of his zoom demos and had posted it to YouTube which I do feel a little awkward about! If you really want to hunt it down, it’s not difficult to find!
It was a simple coastal landscape scene and it was fun way to while away some time and to keep my brushes going!
Only time will tell whether my painting will ever make a full recovery. In the meantime, do let me know if you have any similar side effects on your paintings after receiving your vaccine!
The anticipation of not knowing
There’s a wonderfully delicious point in time between submitting an entry to a competition or exhibition and receiving a decision. It’s a time of hopeful possibilities! I recently enjoyed two weeks of this delicious hopefulness after submitting some entries to the annual Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour 2021 exhibition!
Unfortunately, my hopefulness was dashed upon the rocks of disappointment last Friday when I received notification, yet again, that none of my works had been selected:
I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I’ve received rejection letters like this! I suppose that in itself is progress of a kind (either that or just a sign of my increasing senility!)
This year, I decided to push the boat out and submit four images, which I think is the most I’ve ever entered for the RI exhibition:
Of these, ‘winter light’ shown top left was the one that I held out the highest hopes for, followed by ‘the absence of friends’ shown top right. ‘Mum’s kitchen window’, bottom left was always going to be a long shot (by long shot, I mean an even longer shot than any of the others!) and finally, bottom right ‘Barcelona street corner’ I submitted because I really enjoyed painting it!
While these paintings didn’t make the RI grade, I’m still pleased with them and I think three of them in particular represent what could be considered a ‘high water mark’ in my painting. Making these annual submissions does make you reflect year on year your progress and I certainly feel that my painting has progressed considerably over the past few years – even thought it often doesn’t feel like it!
I daresay I’ll be taking my chances again next year and, once again, will be hoping that the delightful sense of possibility may have a different outcome!