The Story Behind Our New Art Supplies Catalogue Cover
When we sent out our last catalogue in early March, none of us could have envisioned what would happen over the proceeding months, and how all our lives would be changed. How we would all be living with self isolation and this ‘new normal’. It has been a difficult time with a lot of adjustments to how we live our lives. For many, art has been a welcome distraction to keep themselves busy. It has been an opportunity to rediscover art, or take up art as a new past time. It has been wonderful to hear from customers who haven’t painted for many years, and others who were totally new to it and need some guidance in their first foray into painting and drawing.
As a result of this uptake in interest, for the first time we had to reprint our catalogue part way through the year.
When we were looking for our cover image we wanted an art work to mark this most unusual period of time. Since the rainbow has become the symbol of hope during the Covid-19 epidemic, we thought this painting by Rachel Toll was fitting. Read more about Rachel below.
We would like to thank our amazing team who have been working so hard during this difficult period. Also to our customers who have continued to support us, and all the new customers who have just discovered the joy of painting! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. We will carry on sending out art materials and offering the best service we can, and hopefully things will get back to normal soon!
About Rachel Toll
Watercolour painting in Lockdown !
I am sitting in my studio (posh name for my converted shed) situated in my Devon garden , listening to the birds and enjoying the glorious Spring sunshine that 2020 has provided.
I can very easily convince myself that all is well in the world. Although we all know 2020 has been a hugely different year for all of us.
I am so lucky as painting is what I do. I paint almost everyday and know what a privilege it is to be able to make a living from the thing that I enjoy most. I am inspired to paint what is around me, Devon has a wealth of natural beauty, the high hedges, beautiful coastline, and wonderful wildlife. I have gained a reputation for painting wildlife and have been part of the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition several times, including this year.
However, this year has presented new challenges for us all, wherever we live in the UK. I was unlucky enough to be diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer late last year, difficult enough, but then the added anxiety of the pandemic, who could have predicted that too? I have undergone treatment but have also found comfort in my watercolours. I have managed to paint my way through the treatment and the ongoing pandemic, whilst shielding here in Mid Devon.
Painting provides an escape; however the piece turns out, the process of painting takes the artist away from the here and now, into a different place. I have joined in the clapping for all the key workers, I feel so grateful for all they are doing and have done for me. Inspired as well by the rainbows and the promise of hope they bring I began to include them in my work.
A rural scene inspired by the Devon countryside
Or a wild seascape with the hope of better weather ahead.
The piece used on the cover of this catalogue was the first I did in this series. I love watercolour, it is a tricky medium, but one that really delivers when you get to know it and work with what it can do. If there is one medium made for skies, then in my mind it is watercolour. Play around with it let it work its magic. Try not to fight it and see what happens. When you know what it will do in certain situations then use those in your work. Large skies like the one in this piece are an excuse to play with the paint, the colour, and the amount of water. Keep stepping back and decide where needs more, where need leaving be. Keep the plan in your head, where is the light coming from? What do you want in the end, but be open to change, relish those happy accidents!
I can’t do much during these strange and uncertain times, but I can paint. So in a very small way my rainbow series are a way to say thank you to everyone working so hard to keep us safe , from refuse collectors to consultants, and to say a very personal thank you to the NHS staff in Exeter who continue to care for me .
FB: Watercolours by Rachel