Racing to Christmas

Racing to Christmas digital art collaboration, Maxine Dodd and Derek Brittan

This post could very easily be called ‘Racing past Christmas’ as I am certain many of us will be glad for it to come and then go, along with the rest of 2020!

However, I am an optimist and try, always, to find the good side of adversity where I can. It isn’t always easy, but looking for the good in bad times, is an exercise I recommend, whenever things are sad, tough or difficult – or all three at once, as this year has been for so many.

If there has been one positive for me through this year, it has been Friendship. I have been supported by (and I hope, I have supported in return) wonderful friends and family through this difficult year. I would have gone under without them, and thank all of them for kindness, understanding and encouragement in this (and all) years.

The image I have chosen to mark this Christmas came about because of a friendship. The friend is another artist, Derek Brittan, who lives and works nearby. Derek, like many of us has had serious and ongoing challenges to face this year, but nonetheless, his enquiring and creative mind still turns to new ideas and making art.

Derek is known for his colourful abstracts, which he makes in various media, from acrylic to plaster, rope, metals – even dishcloths! All materials can become art in his hands.

In normal times, we meet regularly at his home and studio to drink coffee and discuss whatever we’re presently working on, swap ideas and advice – all the things friends do. This year, of course, has been different, but we keep in touch on the phone and encourage each other where we can.

In one conversation, Derek asked me if I had planned a Christmas card? I hadn’t…Derek had an idea… ‘I have an image’, he said, ‘and I can see your cyclists riding through it’. With the help of his son Nick, and his skills as a graphic designer, we combined two images digitally, so my cyclists were riding through his landscape and ‘Racing to Christmas’ was made.

Amongst so much, our friends bring new thoughts, challenge us to try something we wouldn’t have thought of, cry with us when we weep and laugh with us when we laugh. Without them, we would be incomplete.

This year, Christmas will be different for everyone, and many of us will not be with our family and our friends as usual but nothing can diminish the bonds between us – and I feel, that adversity makes these bonds even stronger. People rise to challenges and pull together to get each other through.

We have seen so much evidence of this throughout 2020, all the years before and we know, yet to come.

Friendship is more infectious than any disease and its ‘R’ number very, very much higher than 1!

Merry Christmas and see you on the other side!

‘Racing to Christmas’ digital art collaboration, Maxine Dodd and Derek Brittan

See more of Derek Brittan’s art here… Derek Brittan Art

Remember…

Barbed Poppies - Watercolour, ink and charcoal by Maxine Dodd
Barbed Poppies
Barbed Poppies


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon

Drawing August: Fingerprints and all!

Gladioli pastel by Maxine Dodd
Gladioli pastel by Maxine Dodd
Fingerprints and all!

Second drawing for this year’s Drawing August online event. This is pastel on Ingres paper. I used Schmincke and Sennelier here; the pigments are so strong and vibrant, they are always exciting to use.

Pastel is possibly the purest form of painting – we work with pure pigment and little else!

Amanda McLean

Soft (chalk) pastels were the first medium that hooked me into art properly. I made a picture when I was at school using pastel on black paper. It was a revelation, the colours and contrast were something wonderful and that was it, I was off on my journey. Lovely memories!

Drawing August: Especially Espresso

Especially Espresso, mixed media drawing of gladioli by Maxine Dodd

It’s Drawing August time! An online event to celebrate and encourage drawing. Simply post a drawing every day throughout the month using the hashtag #DrawingAugust.

Especially Espresso

This is my first for this year, a mixed media drawing of my gladioli ‘Espresso’ which I made with a combination of watercolour and charcoal.

Hospital – 3

Now that lockdown measures are being eased, there is hope of a return to surgical operations recently cancelled due to the intense need of hospital resources and staff covering the pandemic.

My image shows an operation taken from a recent BBC News item. This is the source image, photographed from the TV.

Operation – Source image
BBC News 10:15pm

As ever, I was so struck by the intense atmosphere and also the characters revealed by what is the smallest glimpse of their features.

The other striking element for me is the light we can see here. I can’t help myself, I see the light found in paintings by Caravaggio and Rembrandt, the intensity of colour and feeling, resonates from hundreds of years ago to the present day.

See the features on the faces to the top right in this painting by Caravaggio; only the top of the heads are in light, showing eyes and noses, just as the masks do with the surgeons.

The Taking of Christ
Caravaggio, 1602
National Gallery of Ireland

Here are my efforts in oil pastel, ink and water colour, a long way off the beauty of the photo and certainly the painting! Maybe the photo says it best here? I will let you decide.

Operation #1
Oil pastel and watercolour study
16cm x 16cm (approx)
Operation #2
Oil pastel and watercolour study
16cm x 16cm (approx)

Thursday #1 – ‘Resus is a high level PPE area’

'Resus is a high level PPE area'

The initiative to clap for carers officially came to a close last week – so I wanted to offer a gesture of support to everyone providing continued, dedicated service by publishing a picture on Thursdays at 8pm, the time we all came out to clap.

This image is a study drawing, made in oil pastel and ink, of doctors and nurses entering resus through the entrance doors, with printed signs – ‘Resus is a high level PPE area’.

All the issues around PPE in the UK brought to mind in a simple phrase.

With thanks to all who work on the frontline. Keep well 🌈

Resus is a high level PPE area, oil on pastel, 40cm x 40cm
‘Resus is a high level PPE area’

Hospital – 2

'It's so hot in there, we can't take a drink with our kit on' - Staff on ICU, BBC 2's 'Hospital'

At the start of the Lockdown, the BBC were allowed to film the staff and patients at the Royal Free Hospital in London, a huge hospital that specialises in contagious diseases. The resulting footage was made into two special programmes called, ‘Hospital’ which were broadcast on Monday and Tuesday – Week 8 of Lockdown.  The drawings and paintings shown here are based on images from these films.

'It's so hot in there, we can't take a drink with our kit on' - Staff on ICU, BBC 2's 'Hospital' - Sketch 1
‘It’s so hot in there, we can’t take a drink with our kit on’ – Staff on ICU, BBC 2’s ‘Hospital’ – Sketch 1

This trio of images were from the first programme where the healthcare nurses were able to film in the ICU, wearing chest cameras.  This particular scene took place with the words of the staff explaining how difficult it was to work whilst wearing the essential PPE.  

The basic complaint was the overpowering heat. How impossible it was even to take a drink whilst wearing their kit.

Staff were hot, and stressed. 

'It's so hot in there, we can't take a drink with our kit on' - Staff on ICU, BBC 2's 'Hospital' Sketch 2
‘It’s so hot in there, we can’t take a drink with our kit on’ – Staff on ICU, BBC 2’s ‘Hospital’ Sketch 2

These words are on first sketch. The second sketch shows figures only, just trying to get them right.

The final piece, essentially a full painting with watercolour, ink and gouache, shows the ward’s water dispenser in the distance – literally and metaphorically a long way off.

'It's so hot in there, we can't take a drink with our kit on' - Staff on ICU, BBC 2's 'Hospital'
‘It’s so hot in there, we can’t take a drink with our kit on’ – Staff on ICU, BBC 2’s ‘Hospital’

These drawings and paintings are my inadequate but heartfelt tribute to all healthcare workers and carers, for the NHS and care homes. 

They are all, quite simply, brilliant.

Thank you.

Stay safe and stay well

Hospital

Hospital, critical care, healthworkers, watercolour pen and ink drawing

It’s hard to know where to begin… what a time it has been and will continue to be. Everything turned upside down. Tranquility where there was turmoil, confusion where there was certainty.

Royal Free Hospital – BBC 2

Every news bulletin brings a new story and a new facet to the crisis.

At the beginning of the year, my mum was admitted to Leicester Royal Infirmary and subsequently the Glenfield Hospital.

Hospital – Study sheet 1

A helpless observer at her bedside, I watched the staff at work, at first in the Intensive Care Unit and later the recovery wards.

Hospital – Study sheet 1 – Detail, with newborn

The ICU staff were remarkable, as they calmly and methodically went through the process to stabilise her condition and to move her to the next stage of her recovery – which indeed they did.

Their work undertaken with great kindness, patience and gentle humour. Wonderful, lovely people and tender in years to my old eyes.

Hospital – Study sheet 1 – Detail

Sitting as a helpless observer, I felt my instinct to capture them working with my pen and watercolours. I couldn’t help myself… in my head I followed the lines, the colours and movement.

Of course it wasn’t possible, but the image of the doctors and nurses working together has been with me ever since.

Hospital – Study sheet 2

At the start of the Lockdown, the BBC made two programmes about the Royal Free Hospital in London, a huge hospital that specialises in contagious diseases.

Hospital – Study sheet 2 – Detail, Patient coming

The programmes follow members of staff and patients through the early days of the disease. The staff show the exact same qualities that I experienced with my mum at Leicester.

The programmes were shown this week. I began to draw and then cry as all the memories flooded back. I am still a helpless observer waiting and watching as they work so hard. I guess we all are.

Hospital – Study sheet 2 – Detail

The one thing I can do, we all can do is say ‘Thank you’ and pay tribute as much as we can.

Hospital, BBC 2 – Locking the cupboard

These are my drawings based on the programme as a small tribute to all healthcare workers and carers, who are just brilliant. Thank you!

Stay safe and stay well

A wonderful journey

It’s coming up to the anniversary of my blog ‘Racing Lines’ – My first post was made on 7th July 2012… Just text and no images to try WordPress and see what I could do.

In seven years, the blog has taken me to lots of places and I’ve met some lovely people and made friends – It’s been a great adventure – just with my pens, watercolours and pastels – and my laptop. 

Today, I discovered that the number of people following ‘Racing Lines’ has risen to 3,000, which I find quite incredible. WordPress tells me that there have been 1,578 comments. I can say that each and every one of them is positive, enthusiastic and encouraging. 

So this is a little post to thank all of you who have followed, commented and liked the posts and pictures you have found on ‘Racing Lines’. 

Here is just a small selection from the past seven years, which I hope you enjoy. 🙂

 

Harborough Artists – Open Studios – Thank you!

Open Studios

To everyone who came along over the weekend to visit artists in the Harborough Artists Cluster Open Studios Trail, thank you for your wonderful support.

I was delighted to show my work alongside Marion Holden and Derek Brittan in Great Bowden. Two excellent artists and great friends!

We had over 100 visitors on the two days and made good sales. The weather was perfect and it was lovely to see old friends and new!

Looking forward to seeing you again soon 🙂

The saddest week for Leicester…

 

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It’s a week since the helicopter crash at the Kingpower Stadium after Leicester City’s home match against West Ham and it’s been so hard for everyone trying to come to terms with the tragic loss of life. I visited the King Power stadium this morning to pay my respects along with a constant stream of people walking quietly together  in the autumn sunshine to bring flowers, scarves, shirts, balloons and toys to lay in tribute.
Five people lost their lives on Saturday evening, among them was the chairman of the football club, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. His care for the team, his kindness and generosity to the city and its people meant that everyone took him to their hearts and now their hearts are broken.
To find out more about why Leicester people loved this man so much, read this article by Lee Marlow –  click here. Meanwhile, here are some of my sketches of the stadium with all the people and their gifts.
King Power Stadium, watercolour
Coming to the King Power

Thank you!

Ian Bibby blows the rest away! Tour of Britain, Stage 2, by Maxine Dodd

Hello! Today, WordPress contacted me to say that over 1,000 people have signed up to follow ‘Racing Lines’. This is wonderful news and I wish to thank everyone. Your ‘follows’ are very much appreciated. With warmest wishes, Maxine

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Remembrance

Lest we forget - Poppies for Remembrance

Lest we forget - Poppies for Remembrance
Lest we forget – Poppies for Remembrance

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Lest we forget

Maxine Dodd, Poppies, Lest we forget

Maxine Dodd, Poppies, Lest we forget
Poppies, Lest we forget

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)