Art reflects who we are, what we see or hear, what we experience and feel. My art also allows the viewer to peek a little bit into my soul. These four paintings are my most recent works of art and reflect my experience painting during the Pandemic.  The COVID-19 virus hitchhiked via planes to the USA and jolted the world with unexpected changes. Everything came to a halting pause except for “the essentials.” Brick and mortar schools and businesses were closed, meetings and events were either canceled or postponed indefinitely.  When a “State of Emergency” was declared on March 13 and the stay at home orders were given, I realized I needed to quickly adjust to a new way of thinking and living to get through this pandemic with minimal negative effects. I was determined to keep a positive attitude. One of the strategies was to be safe, productive, and busy. I developed a new stay at home routine that involved praying and meditating, eating healthy food when I could get it, exercising, and painting a lot!  I found that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to paint with few distractions. I also managed not to feel isolated from friends and family. Even before the stay at home orders, I have always painted while listening to human conversations either coming from the TV and/or talking to friends and family on the phone and from painting groups.   And like so many of us, I learned to use Zoom for meetings.  COVID-19 was THE conversation I heard during the whole time that I was painting these four pieces of art.  I was not aware that these COVID-19 conversations were influencing my style of painting until after I completed the paintings and lined them up together side-by-side.  I was surprised to see that my inward feelings were subtly reflected and etched into the artwork.   My first painting was light and airy but as talk of the virus went from days to weeks to months the paintings succeeded to express themselves with darker values and subject matter.  But always, in each painting, I had the light shine through.  I realized that I was subconsciously painting about the pause in our life, but also of the hope and light that continues to shine through the darkness.  We will continue.  We will adapt, adjust, and continue to hope.

These four paintings are a series of six works of art that were originally planned to be on exhibition at the South Coast Botanic Gardens in the Administration building during the Spring of 2020.  They were/are intended to be uplifting and joy-filled focusing on subjects found at the Botanic Gardens including blooming trees, flowers, tree-lined paths, and sculptures. Two paintings are still in progress as of this writing. The paintings will be hanging at the Administration Building for a time, but due to Coronavirus guidelines, the exhibition is put on pause for public viewing.

The four paintings below were painted using both traditional and water mixable oil paint. I painted using both the palette knife and large brushes.  These pieces were painted loosely and often with multiple layers of thick paint.  My palette consisted of Titanium White, Cad Yellow Light, Cad Orange, Cad Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, French Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, or Phthalo Green, Cerulean, Burnt Umber.

Debbie Giese, Painting Instructor

Blooming Promises, oil/palette knife. Completed March 21, 2020

The first painting, Blooming Promises, was started on March 2 and completed on March 21. I painted this painting right before and during the lockdown relatively quickly, and with ease.  As time went on, it was clear the pandemic was going to be here longer than I had expected. The following paintings took a bit more effort and took longer to complete.  These cherry trees at the South Coast Botanic Garden were blooming during the peak of the first wave of the coronavirus.  The trees bloom to an open sky. They are free to share their blooms with the few who could leave their homes to witness their inspiring beauty.  Blooming Promises is the reminder that cherry blossoms are an uplifting promise of what shall return

The Garden Bench, oil/palette knife. Completed April 1, 2020.

This is a painting of the gazebo at the South Coast Botanic Garden during the coronavirus. This painting shows a blooming tree next to the gazebo and a bench.  This painting represents weddings and promises put on hold.  A new tomorrow will come when we will be able to sit together and celebrate under the bloom.

The Hidden Path, oil/palette knife. Completed April 25, 2020.

This is a painting of a pathway with the sun shining through the trees on a hidden pathway at Southcoast Botanic Garden.  This is a reminder that the sun shines through darkness to show the path we may choose to walk.  Hope is faith looking and walking forward. This painting represents the serenity and calm we hold within as we look forward to the time we can walk, and all be together again.

Standing Strong & Bold, oil/palette knife and large brush. Completed May 24, 2020.

This painting, Standing Strong & Bold, is my impression of the sculpture, The Duchess of Alba, by Reuben Nakian, welded sheet steel and rod (1959-60). Sculpture on loan from LACMA to South Coast Botanic Gardens

The Duchess of Alba continues to thrive during the coronavirus.  She is still but content.  She lounges on a bed of flowers safe among the trees.  Unafraid of showing her lines and curves, her dark side, and her light side.  She is hard, rounded, edgy but grounded in a petal of soft flowers. She is solid and stalwart for all to see, criticize, enjoy, or ignore as they choose.  She does not seem to care. She remains content, bold, and powerful knowing that the sun will continue to shine and nurture through the darkness.