Documenting the lockdown: 100 paintings in 100 days

A Wotton-based artist has been challenging himself to illustrate his time in lockdown – by creating 100 paintings in 100 days. 

Richard Edwards, who designed ‘Wotton, 240 Buildings’, currently for sale in Fifi’s Fancy Furniture, spoke about his project documenting his personal experiences with isolation. 

“When lockdown first started I thought I would try and start this little social media thing that I was calling the one-hour painting club, where I knew people needed maybe a creative outlet.

“Although we had all this time at home, I soon recognised that we were weirdly busy with trying to sort things out and homeschooling, so I thought it would be good.”

Richard began to visually document his experience of lockdown, spending an hour each day working on a painting that captured the unusual quiet of his surroundings. 

“For me the emphasis moved from trying to get people to paint to actually getting me to paint frequently. 

“I realised from a motivational point of view I’d never experienced anything like it for myself, where I had this desire to paint every day – it’s something I’m normally too busy to do.

“Realistically I know there are a few days that have slipped by without me doing one, but I’m still trying to do them, and I think I’ve done 48 paintings now.

Currently Richard is hoping to exhibit the paintings in entirety once the lockdown lifts, although no hard plans have been made yet for obvious reasons. 

“If there was one overarching theme here I’d say it was stillness, that’s kind of what I’ve been looking for. 

“It’s the stillness that everyone’s experienced and the stillness that’s facilitated my art, so in most of the paintings there is a kind of emptiness to them.”

“Sometimes I go out looking for big scenes to paint, when sometimes all you need is a clearing in the woods.”

Painting is something Richard does on the side from his picture framing business, Surroundings and The Fine Art Printing Company, which he runs with his wife Emma.

“The idea is that if I do an exhibition, then I will donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sales to an NHS charity.

“They need to be available together as a document of time – what I want to present is a chronology, or a story.

“To me there’s a very obvious change in tree and leaf cover. The light coming through the trees has changed very dramatically from being very bright in the early spring to much darker as the leaves have grown back on the trees. 

“The light and the seasons are emerging, which I really like.”

Richard doesn’t plan ahead for his paintings, as the best inspirations tend to come to him in the moment. 

“There are some photos I took a few weeks ago that I thought would make a really lovely scene for a painting, but now I’m really struggling to bring myself to paint them.

“Some things you have to put to bed because they were then, not now – it’s meant to be an account of the story as it unfolds. 

“There was one point where we hadn’t had rain for ages and I was in the studio wondering what I wanted to do and I noticed the rain on the window. 

“That has become so significant – it wouldn’t normally be in a normal year for us, but we’d had a beautiful spell here for so long, and that rain – felt like such a significant moment in this painting story, because it really marked a point.”

When he reflects on what he’ll take away from his time in lockdown, Richard says that he’ll definitely be painting more. 

“I’ve completely fallen in love with painting again – it wasn’t that I wasn’t in love with it before, but I was seeing it as a job. 

“I’ve been painting for myself, truly, for this project, and that’s not something I want to give up again now. I’ll have to make sure normal life doesn’t get in the way again!”

Check out RichEdwardsArt on Instagram to see Richard’s works and paintings.