Lockdown 2020

Painting outdoors on a perfect Autumn day

Lockdown 2020. What does this mean for an artist?

When I first heard about South Africa going into lockdown, I felt paralyzed. For the first two days I could do nothing. I had no plans. I realized my art workshops would be on hold. That my plans for an art exhibition later in the year, would probably not materialize. That all the art galleries would be closed, and no art would be sold. I realized this would take a long time to blow over and that when it did, people would probably not have much money to spend on ‘necessities’ like art!

On that first Saturday morning of Lockdown, I woke up at 4am with a plan (sent from above): sell my artworks at sale prices. And this is what I did – for the first time in my career as an artist. I created a catalogue of all my available artworks, including my lino print editions. I contacted the galleries where my artworks hang on consignment, to ask permission to sell the works during lockdown, while they were closed. I used my database as well as social media to let my customers know about my sale. And then it happened: 

  1. I sold many artworks.
  2. I expanded my database with many new potential clients who showed interest in my work.

I spent many hours in front of my computer marketing and liaising with clients. Time well spent. A quote I read somewhere inspired me: ‘Do not count the days. Make the days count!’

Shortly before lockdown, I ordered three large canvases and enough oil paint to keep me going for a while. On the days I did not work on the computer – or clean the house, or help children with schoolwork – I painted. I have two new paintings to show for the time indoors. (I am ready to start on the third.)

The final project I undertook during lockdown, was to learn to build my own website – with the competent help of the IT-expert, Willem van Heerden and my friend, Elaine Eksteen as my language expert. I worked through all the photos of my artworks and exhibitions, to create a summary of what my art is about. I updated my CV. I thought about the message of my work as a whole and highlighted specific artworks with their meanings. I learnt how to create an online shop; how to upload profiles, products, and media! And here it is, my brand-new website, at last!

So, what does Lockdown mean for an artist? To me it meant creative thinking and hard work. Will it be possible to stay a full-time artist in the difficult years to come? Well, that remains to be seen…