2021 March

winter road shot
The bleakness of winter still remains in March!

March began with the first vaccination accomplished, and a wait for the second dose that may reach into May. It developed into a month of unholy wrangling with the EU over vaccine supply. Over half of the UK adult population have received a first dose, and the impact has been striking. Numbers in hospital with COVID, in the ICU, and dying from COVID have all fallen dramatically since December when the vaccination began. Studies are showing that the gamble of maximizing the range of the first jab and delaying the second jab has paid off.

The EU has been slow to give medical approval for the vaccines, and therefore slow to place orders for them. They have an average of 10% of their populations vaccinated, and are facing a third wave, with lock-downs. The outlook is bleak as the variant becoming dominant is the B117 (Kent variant) that has plagued the UK too. It has proved to be more tranmissible, and more deadly than the original (Italian) virus here.
Sadly the EU Commission response has been to try to block vaccines produced on the continent from being exported to the UK. They have spent two months trashing the reputation of the AstraZenenca vaccine, and are now trying to ‘sell’ it to their populations! Currently there are significant numbers who are refusing the AZ vaccine, despite growing research evidence of its efficacy and safety. What a mess!!

Here we both had the AZ vaccine, and after a couple of days feeling like a mild dose of ‘flu we have had no adverse effects. The Shingles vaccine was much worse!! So now we feel more confident going out and about. Still in lock-down in Scotland in March, so exercising at Fyvie Castle and essential shopping in Inverurie are the extent of our ‘out and about’. But there is a slight feeling of returning normality, as we are no longer totally dependent on deliveries for our weekly grocery needs!

Infrared of Fyvie loch
Winter still rules! Infrared at Fyvie loch

The weather has been against us, as sub-zero temperatures (especially overnight) have made for bleak, cold and windy outings for exercise. The trees have been battered by the severe winter and are not at all photogenic , and only snowdrops are adorning the pathways at Fyvie

snowdrops at Fyvie Castle
Snowdrops make for a magical white carpet at Fyvive Castle.

With a little Helios lens magic the snowdrops appear to swirl, and add a little magic! Indeed magic is needed to see the beauty hidden in the wintry corners of the castle grounds….

Lensbaby snowdrops and fence
Last years leaves and this years snowdrops caught with the Lensbaby.

This time it is the Lensbaby optic adding some colour and sparkle to the cold day!

So much of my time has been spent indoors – too cold to think about tackling the garden and all the dead-heading and clear-up after the winter!
Decision time! I am still determined to fit my watercolour adventure into the already cramped timetable for the day/week/month! It does take my energy right to the edge, and it does mean the housework is being neglected!
The more I dig into my first watercolour venture (some 20+ years ago), the more I understand when artists say watercolour is the most difficult and challenging medium of all! I have a whole lot to learn or re-learn, and yet I know where I want to go ….. so balancing the need to learn important things with wishing to avoid a “watercolours by numbers” approach is making for slow progress! I don’t want to lose my own vision …. The first thing that I need to get a grasp on is the colours that I have got.

watercolour transparency chart
My watercolour transparency chart

I want to use as many transparent colours as possible, as they can let the paper glow through – but there are so many qualities to each paint. Transparent, semi-transparent and opaque is only one quality to weigh! There are staining/non-staining colours, and then reflective colours, and sedimentary colours … and then how about warm and cool colours, colour dominance? …. and I am nowhere near the paper choices, or the brush choices!

I have decided to simply throw myself in the deep end, and sink or swim. The problem is that I am not good at failing … especially not repeatedly! I tend to beat myself up, and get discouraged…. so I am trying to fit a small watercolour ‘corner’ into each day … failing, but gradually getting closer to every other day! So I have ‘built’ my first palette.

My starting palette
My first palette selection, with transparency in mind.

I’ve already been experimenting with mixing my painting with my photographs ….

Eggs blending photo and watercolour
Daily sketch eggshells and blend with photo
Blending art and photography
Blending art and photography

See more on the August 2020 page, and on Flickr I have an album of all kinds of blending and merging of media. I want to use some of the landscape images I’ve captured over the years, and express them in watercolour too … like this winter sunrise as we drove along ..

freezing fog on the road
Ice and fog, a dangerous but magical mixture.

So, as March draws to a close, and the sunny days begin to outnumber the wintry ones, my ToDo lists are packed with ideas for photography and painting, and my online Flickr presence will vie with the demands of house and garden! Hopefully there will be the chance to travel to the coast, as lock-down restrctions ease. And it will be May before we see a second vaccination jab … so extreme caution is still the 2021 ‘normal’.

And on to April, and has Spring finally arrived?
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