Believing that something good can come out of a bad situation

We hope you will enjoy reading another of our women’s stories – this time from Mandy who tells us how lockdown has added another dimension to her life.

When it was announced on TV that we would have to give up work and stay at home whilst being paid during the first lockdown, I can certainly say I had mixed feelings!  I have always done some form of work, whether it be running my own business, bringing up children or, more latterly, working part time in sales at a country club.

How would I cope with being at home 24/7 with my husband, 21 year old daughter and Charlie the cat?  After the initial shock of saying goodbye to everyone at work, and the fear about the virus changing our lives forever, I settled into a somewhat mundane routine of walk, yoga, meditation, food shop, housework, gardening… repeat… and repeat again. 

Yes, we were so lucky.  The sun shone, we have a lovely garden, I got a great tan.  I should have been content!  I had never had so much time on my hands since being a teenager.  But me being me, I started to feel bored and, whilst clearing out a cupboard in the spare room, I came upon some graphite sticks and my collection of paints and brushes from some watercolour landscape evening classes I attended about 20 years ago.

The paints had long dried up. But armed with the graphite sticks, an eraser and some cheap art paper, I started to experiment by doing a few self-portraits – very badly.  However, spurred on by a Facebook group on self-portraits I persevered, and after a week or two was able to produce a reasonable likeness. 

Mandy’s daughter Zara

I stuck with the graphite drawing for the duration of the first lockdown,  but I was now hooked and started to draw members of my family as well as famous people such as Elizabeth Taylor and Tony Benn. By this time I had persuaded my husband to convert our little shed at the bottom of the garden into my ‘girl cave’ ie. my art room! 

Once we were able to get out and about, I bought a watercolour palette, decent brushes and some good quality paper.  I was determined to give painting a try again although, after such a long break, I was really not expecting too much!

My first few attempts were quite honestly, a disaster.  Had I really forgotten how to mix colours or how the paint seemed to have a mind of  its own when trying to blend on the paper? 

But the bliss of sitting in my little shed, with Billie Eilish playing gently in the background and creating something from a plain sheet of paper was addictive.

Before long, I was avidly watching YouTube videos on how to paint skin, hair and water – you name it, there is a video there that will fit the bill!

Soon my poor family were all framed and up on the walls. I was delighted (and a little nervous at first) to be asked to do a few commissions by family and friends and, lately, by people who have seen my Instagram account.

When I think back to this time last year, I would not have believed that I could have learned so much in one year and I certainly would not have had the opportunity or time to do so if we had not had been in the grip of this terrible pandemic.  I have always believed that something good can come out of a bad situation, and in a small way this has been the case for me.

To see more of Mandy’s artworks, visit her Instagram account or you can contact her by email.

We’ve lots more women’s stories from A&G readers, click here to read a few.