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Women who draw – supporting one another through lockdown

We invited local artist and Real Ideas member Emma Carlisle to share her story of a group of 5 women drawing their way through Lockdown 3.0. 

Breakfast Club - Drawing Every Day on Zoom

I’m sure most people find that coming back to work after Christmas is hard, you go from not really knowing what day it is to an inbox full of emails and lots of jobs which you need to get started (or if you’re like me and leave the studio mid-project you might have work you need to finish!)

I really struggled to get back into drawing during January, there was no motivation to pick up a pencil and when I did open my sketchbook I’d just look blankly at the page and wondered what to draw. A friend of mine, Harriet Lowther, was feeling the same and asked if I wanted to draw on Zoom one morning before we started work. This coincided nicely with an online life drawing class where the model was re-creating Ophelia, by John Everett Millais, by lying in a bath surrounded by flowers, the session was being hosted in Melbourne so it started at 8.30am – a shock for the system after not drawing for weeks and spending most of Christmas hibernating. 

After the session finished Harriet and I agreed to meet the next day and were joined by our friend Frances Ives. Later that week Becca Hall joined us as well as Sarah Dyer and Lucy Salmon, all wonderful female illustrators based across the UK. There has been lots about lockdown that I know everyone has found difficult and challenging, but I am really grateful that it’s opened up a way to connect with others online. I would have never considered doing something like this previously and now I can’t imagine not getting up each morning and switching on Zoom to draw with these lovely, supportive women.

It’s now been a whole month of drawing every day and although I don’t see big leaps in my work visually, I can see a different mindset forming about the way I’m working. The most important thing has been recognising that just showing up and moving a pen or pencil around a piece of paper is so important, it really doesn’t matter what you’re drawing as long as you’re making something! I’ve also realised that a slower, quieter time to contemplate what I’m doing is so important in my practice, especially around the start of the year when things are less busy. These daily morning sessions, which we’ve named Breakfast Club, have given us all the freedom to create without judgement and we can draw without worrying if something goes wrong or doesn’t work.

As well as painting, working on picture books and lecturing at Plymouth University I also run a Patreon online where I film sketchbook challenges and hold live drawing events. These Breakfast Club sessions formed part of my Patreon during February and are something you can join in with throughout the year via the Drawing Club tier. I’ve also uploaded a sketchbook tour from this work where I talk about it in more detail on my Sketchbook Club tier. Click here for more info. 

"Breakfast Club have given us all the freedom to create without judgement and we can draw without worrying if something goes wrong or doesn’t work" - Emma Carlisle

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