Textiles have always been a major part of my life and my go to for stress release and escapism from life’s problems. I was therefore very surprised to find myself gradually turning my back on needle-punching textiles during lockdown.
The first lockdown in March 2020 started for me with a great textile project, ‘Foraged Colour’, collaborating with Linda Row, Penny Wheeler, Eve Kumari and Frances Westerduin. As this project came to an end, I realised that this new life could get rather quiet and decided the best way to keep in touch with the wider world would be to get involved with the wide variety of interesting courses that were becoming available online: fitness, portrait painting, flower sculptures, embroidery, dyeing, drawing movement, bookbinding and oil painting.
It was oil painting that really engaged me. I enrolled on the oil painting course with Cat Knight by mistake. I just thought it was a general painting course rather than one focused on oils.
Oil painting was initially quite daunting. I had never used oils before, but Cat was very encouraging and I soon found myself so totally engrossed that I had to paint with oils every day – it was the first thing I did when I woke up each day.
My style developed over 2020 and with a move to Cornwall in the pipeline I wanted to connect more with the Cornish landscape. In February 2021, I enrolled on a wonderful pre-recorded online course ‘Abstracting the Landscape’ with Anita Reynolds at Newlyn School of Art.
With Anita I developed concertina sketchbooks using a wide variety of mediums, I really enjoyed working with ink and oil sticks. Then my love of textiles kicked in again and I mixed-in some needle punching, giving a strong contrast of textures. I am excited about the possibilities ahead.
Lockdown was undoubtedly a difficult time, I missed my family and friends so much. However it also gave me the time and opportunity to try new techniques and find a new direction for my work. I have now moved to Cornwall and (once all the boxes are unpacked) I am looking forward to getting out and about in the landscape developing my work further over the coming months.
All photographs property of Gill Hewitt