The Coronavirus lockdown and physical distancing has led us to trying to find activities to keep ourselves busy. The stress and uncertainty have played havoc with the mental health of most of us. A friend, who is a professional artist, attacked this problem and challenged herself to paint a small (4×6 or 5×7) watercolour each day. The challenge intrigued me, so I decided I’d give it a try.

Before we go much further, I will preface this with the following disclaimer: I am not a professional artist, and have only been painting, after a 45-year break from oil painting, since December. My wife is highly allergic to fumes, so I decided to try painting in watercolour instead. I’ve had two lessons.

My hope was that this would give me some structure to this time and allow me to improve my skills. I decided to try to do a local painting every day.

I have missed a few days, but not many. Sometimes, you just don’t feel up to it, given the current situation. Lately, the siren call of nice weather and a backlog of yard work has interfered. So, I hit my photo collection and started painting. Yes, some have been duds, but some have turned out nicely.

I’ve had to turn to internet pictures for additional details when my shots didn’t have what I needed. Some local photographers have also been kind enough to allow me to do one of their photos when I found the subject interesting and didn’t have a photo of my own.

This little project has had a few benefits:

  • I usually need something to do, or I will get into trouble. Idle hands are the devil’s toolbox and I’ve managed to stay out of mischief (so far).
  • I am getting rather good at fixing my painting mistakes, because I have made more than my fair share.
  • I have made it a point to learn the actual names of some of the mountains I’ve just taken for granted. In a reverse of how it normally works, I’ve even managed to learn the English name of a mountain I only knew by its Tutchone one.
  • Most of these are not finished. Some could use touching up or adding a bit more detail, but I can get to that later.
  • Most importantly, of the places I’ve lived, this is the easiest place to find a beautiful piece of scenery to paint every day. We are lucky to live here.

I don’t know how long this challenge, or these circumstances, will last. But, if the lockdown has gotten you down, you can find something to pass the time. Just do something you enjoy. You don’t have to be great at it. I’m proof.

My paintings can all be seen on Instagram, @doug.rutherford.