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Six Artists Work in the Time of Covid-19:  Diane Sawyer, Dawn Nelson, Linda O’Brien, Opie O’Brien, Sarah Sutro, and Betty Vera.

My art has always been a refuge for me in difficult times. But as the pandemic began to take hold, it didn’t feel right to continue with my usual practice. I felt the need to switch things up — get my hands on some new materials and explore. — see where it would take me. I have wanted to expand my practice, to incorporate oils and mixed media for a number of years, but never found enough time to focus on this area.  These days of isolation offered an opportunity — a place of stillness and quiet to explore and learn new skills.

Dreams Deferred
Dreams Deferred, diptych, each 23.5 x 11″, oil and cold wax on Shuji paper

As I began experimenting with new media, I gave myself permission to work more boldly and physically, letting go of my ever-critical editorial mind.

As I began working with oil and cold wax I became immersed in the process: layering and scraping back, experimenting with texture and color, and reworking until something begins to emerge. Responding to what I see, I go where the painting leads me.

I had my days of being stuck, too depressed or distracted to work. Like many of us I was often preoccupied by the cascade of feelings triggered by the multiple tragedies of the pandemic — suffering and loss, destabilization in this country and the world, economic collapse, and fury and grief triggered by racial injustice.

American Legacy, 17 x 14″, oil and cold wax on Arches Oil Paper

But I’ve also found space to recognize and nurture new ideas. It has been liberating to be out of my comfort zone, and exciting to experiment with new ways of working. The process of painting abstractly and intuitively leaves me room to notice how much of my internal experience is surfacing in these new pieces.

The images above are a sampling of my work included in IMPROMPTU. Do these new pieces speak to you? I welcome your feedback and comments.

To see more, and the work of the other 5 artists, visit: