A Sanctuary In Lockdown

I have tried to write a blog post at least three times over the past 13 weeks since lockdown in Scotland began. Every time I wrote a post it didn’t feel right. Something about what I was saying seemed trivial; my words didn’t seem to be able to carry the weight of what was happening.

I couldn’t find a way to express what I was feeling, what I was going through, and what the world was going through. So much was already being said. I felt I had nothing to add.

My words felt empty.

Instead I continued to paint and draw and sketch. It was in pictures and paintings that I found the right language to express everything I wanted to say.

Not wanting to break the spell and the solace I felt in my visual art, I decided not to share those particular pictures and paintings for a while. It felt too private, like sharing one’s diary entries.

I also wanted to keep going and keep the momentum up. I felt I was on a roll and sometimes sharing too soon can have the adverse effect, it can stop me in my tracks.

So, making art became my serenity, my sanctuary, whilst I processed the realities of the pandemic.

Taking my wee homemade sketchbooks on my walks became my joy, my delight and a space to just be, to get lost in the moment whilst I was in nature. I sought out a regular route through the woods and past a local farmer’s fields, and watched how the seasons flowed from one to another.

For some reason it delighted me to see the farmer’s fields – which, before, had had remnants of grown and picked sprouts – ploughed and ready for this year’s seeds. And then over the past couple of months it has thrilled me to watch the fields transform before my eyes.

I came across a lot of wildlife on my walks and enjoyed watching birds and deer in our local woods. The roe deer had ditched their grey winter coat for a more reddish brown summer one. I heard the great spotted woodpeckers drilling and drumming into bark, getting their nests ready. Crows were nesting high up in the redwood trees, making so much noise for weeks on end, and I regularly saw them chasing off a buzzard.

My wee homemade sketchbooks

It became my routine to walk in the morning after breakfast when it was generally quiet, especially in the beginning of lockdown. Then as the weather got better I encountered a few more people, however, it still felt reasonably quiet and tranquil, which is what I was hoping for when I went out.

From the lounge window at home I watched many birds return. Starlings were abound, grabbing bits of grass and moss from our lawn and flying off to build their nests. Slowly the house martins returned after their long journey from Africa where they’d been since late summer last year. Sparrows seemed to be venturing from their usual hotspots and a couple of males finally found our bird feeder that we put up last year. That made my partner and I jump for joy. I have even spotted a couple of swifts dancing in the sky – definitely didn’t notice them here last year!

What’s more, I managed to finish – at least for now – a body of work based on a couple of drawing and painting trips to Yellowcraig near North Berwick. It was a project that I’d started during my art course, which sadly had to stop once lockdown started. Thankfully, the project gave me a focus amidst the uncertainty. If it hadn’t been for my art and for the natural world around me I don’t know how I would have coped.

Now the lockdown restrictions are starting to ease I am considering not changing my routine for the time being, although hopefully I will be able to go and visit some friends in the coming weeks, but other than that I’ll wait to see what happens. I’m in no rush to go anywhere.

In the meantime I will keep immersing myself in my art. I’m posting new pieces on my Instagram account a bit more regularly now, if you’d like to follow my progress there; and you can also visit my Art page to view what I’ve been creating.

I hope you’re doing okay, and feel free to let me know how things have been for you.

Stay well, and stay safe.

PHOTO CREDITS: CARRIE SANDERSON



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