Social Distance

I began this painting in early January at my abstract art classes. That was ages ago before I went off to Cambodia for the Paint Mojo workshop! Much has happened since, with the world changing so frighteningly rapidly that it’s leaving us with uncertainty and despair. The COVID-19 virus has even affected our lifestyle and even how we interact with others. Here in the Netherlands, schools, restaurants, cafes and bars have been shut since a week ago and large gatherings banned, And we are strictly recommended to keep a 150 cm distance from others in public, otherwise known as “social distance”. And who would’ve thought I’d end up painting about that when I started this piece in early-January?

Preparing the Background

The theme for the evening class was “abstract landscape”. Dieter, our art tutor, provided us with some large thin paper to glue onto our own canvas surface. First we applied some glue (acrylic medium?) with a sponge brayer and immediately laid the paper on top and rolled the glue along it. The paper need not be smoothened down flat. In fact, wrinkling was encouraged to create texture. Important though was to make sure the paper was fully adhered to on the surface with no bubbles to prevent the paper from ripping and peeling. Once the paper was dry, I applied with a sponge brayer a stunning pearly turquoise which was a blend of pearl green, pearl yellow and turquoise blue by Amsterdam Acrylic.

Metallic Landscapes

The landscapes were designed based on straight angles for an abstract effect. For my painting, I made a large mountain and some paddy fields, then coloured some of the triangles in metallic shades like gold, copper and bronze. Circular shapes were then incorporated to give contrast against the angles in the form of trees lining up along the horizon. To add texture to those trees, I applied some modelling paste with a palette knife. It was at this point that the painting got kept on hold as I wandered off that weekend on a long vacation. Little did we all know what would be in store for us weeks later. By the time I returned to the Netherlands in early-March, COVIC-19 made its way from Asia to Europe and as the threat was growing in the country, classes got cancelled much to our disappointment.

Making it Kawaii

I then decided to take this incomplete work and finish it at home. From the beginning, I had planned on having two pink houses in the painting and thus firstly added them, Next came some flowers in the fields. I wanted to keep the painting cute and simple and hence opted for tulips only and in one colour, light pink. The leaves of the trees were then painted in light yellow green with the bark in blue for an abstract effect. To add some character to this otherwise simple painting, I decided to use some texturising mediums like modeling paste (trees and as added later Little One’s hair) and glass beads (roofs of the houses and outfits).

And let’s not forget the kawaii. How could we not remember Little One! She is standing in the middle of the field by her farm house greeting her neighbour friend. Once again I wanted to keep the painting simple and thus got the two neighboring friends to wear identical outfits of light violet. Glass beads were then carefully applied on their outfits as were modeling paste on their hair. Initially I considered adding more like dogs and cats, but then it dawned on me. I jokingly told my boyfriend that Little One and her friend were practicing social distancing. “What a good idea”! he exclaimed. And so social distancing it was!

The painting classes are still cancelled until further notice. That is, whenever the world has decided all clear and life can revert to normal. I can’t wait and nor can anyone! Meanwhile I do visit Dieter at his shop from time to time to say hi and to stock up on art supplies since I’ve got more time to paint. I had him varnish my painting and fasten a string on the canvas so I could hang it one day. Hopefully when this crisis ends, we can pick up where we left off. And years later when we look at this painting, we can remind ourselves how precious life is,

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