Two Months of Lockdown May 27, 2020

Friday May 15th 2:10 pm, fist painting SOLD! 10 minutes earlier we ‘opened our virtual doors’! 6 hours later we’re sold out. Five other paintings had sold pre-launch, whilst I was still painting the series.

The amazing thing is that this is in May 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, when people around the world are fearful and deeply worried. But people also need hope, courage and strength, and this is what these paintings gave them.

This is the story of how the ‘Urban Queen ‘series was created and the impact they had on the hearts of people around the world.

 

In the beginning

It’s early March, the corona virus is rapidly spreading throughout Europe, I exhibit at the Bath Art Fair. After that, unaware of the imminent ordeal, I am in bustling central London every day. I go to the theatre in London’s West End. My daughter is ecstatic at a sell-out O2 Arena concert by her favourite singer, Halsey.

We return home and decide to self-isolate for two weeks, just in case we had the virus. I start contemplating doing all the things I never have time for. Rearrange my closet, clean my house spotless, drink margaritas on the terrace and binge on Netflix. I was even dreaming of finally organizing my drawers and cleaning under the bed J.

 

Enter fear and worry

As I watch extensive news coverage of the disease’s voracious spread, fear starts to grip at my heart. Did we get the virus in London? It feels like I have the symptoms; so does my daughter. Do we really? My husband is still in London in business meetings every day. Are we going to be safe? How about our old parents? How many people will die?

Schools soon close and the country literally comes to a standstill as emergency state a.k.a. lockdown is declared. Now what? I have no interest whatsoever in catching up on cleaning. Or organising the cupboards. Netflix provides temporary distraction, thanks Spartacus! 

 

A familiar rescue

After a few sorry days my super positive mind wakes up and goes straight into overdrive. I start looking for the good in these dire circumstances. I see people being solidary, helping each other. Italians, going through devastating pain first, finding the strength to sing out on their balconies. Mother Earth given a chance to catch its breath almost free of pollution.

 

I just had to paint all this. A painting to reflect the world under the grasp of this dreadful pandemic. I set up a home studio and got to work. It took about 3 weeks to paint ‘Mother Earth’ and I was constantly sharing the work online. Though I’ve been active online for years, I never realised how sharing my work daily could generate so much interest.

Gradually ideas started to evolve. An article in Forbes Magazine about how seven women heads of states handled the pandemic in their countries fuelled my inspiration even more. I have been painting women and their role in our society for a few years. I want my paintings to inspire women (and men) to look within, to find their inner strength, courage and determination. To know that sensibility, vulnerability and nurturing are precious attributes; not weaknesses as we were made to believe.

Mother Earth, oil on canvas, 2020

 

Revving up the engine

I took over the living room and started working 12-hour days, 7 days/week. I hardly even cooked for my family. My living room was divided into departments: the painting area, the filming area for FB videos, the office area for writing blogs and sharing with the world, the framing and packing area. Any plans of spring cleaning the house and relaxing had to wait.

My daughter learned to prepare her own meals. My husband, back from London, avoided the living room as I danced whilst painting. He took me on afternoon walks in nature just to get me out for a while. He is a God sent. My dog also helped keep me grounded as I walked him 2-3 times/day.

 

Deeply connected

All along I was sharing my art and thoughts online daily. People were getting more and more involved, naming the paintings, naming the entire series, telling me what they were feeling.

Connecting meaningfully and frequently with the art community and my collectors has been heartening. I received hundreds of messages and responded to each one of them. People told me their stories and what the art meant to them. Although I paint women, my art speaks equally to men. This is what a collector who bought two Urban Queen paintings said:

‘I will keep the two paintings next to each other. They capture all you wanted to say to the world. For me personally they represent the only two women personalities I love and was never able to decide which to pick as my soulmate. I keep trying to find the 2 in 1 version’ (Bogdan, Bucharest)

A deeply moving experience was talking with Kristen, a nurse in the front line in San Francisco. She was working crazy hours, doing loads of overtime when the hospital needed her, taking breaks and resting in her car when she was on call. We messaged each other and spoke a lot. She told me that

‘I’m scared, inspired and empowered raising girls during this time! These paintings spoke to me on such a deep level as a nurse on the front lines and mother of two daughters. Seriously, these paintings blew my mind on so many levels’.

This beautifully expresses what I paint for: the power of art to lift our souls. It reminds us that we are magnificent beings capable of doing so much good in the world. Art can give us strength to carry on, courage to push through.

Co-creating the future

The hundreds of messages you all sent me are full of great ideas and inspiration. I am taking your suggestions onboard and will be creating the next series of Urban Queens. Different colours, new styles, there’s so much more to explore. A few Urban Queens were commissioned, personalised for each collector and I am really excited to create them.

Sharing is caring

One of the most exciting projects for the next Urban Queen collection is giving back. Each new painting will contribute to my favourite charity, supporting young mothers struggling to keep their children with them. These mothers grew up in orphanages or in dysfunctional families themselves. They are struggling with poverty, low self-esteem, suicidal attempts and no support network. We are helping them through it all so they can be safe and keep their children. This NGO has been very close to my heart and I’ve been actively supporting them for the last 11 years. So, I am very happy that 10% of each ‘Urban Queen 2.0’ painting will go to support these young mothers.

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