Judith Alsop Miles

Watercolour Artist and Plein-air Painting

Wednesday28 February 2024

How lockdown unlocked my creative flow

When I first discovered urban sketching back in 2011, my enthusiasm for art knew no bounds. After years of feeling like I didn’t know what to paint, suddenly everything around me was a potential subject and over the following eight years I filled 18 sketchbooks with watercolour drawings of the world around me. Then last winter I seemed to run out of steam. I was painting in the studio, exploring different media and developing new techniques, but my plein-air practice dwindled to almost nothing. Enter Covid-19. In late March, the UK went into lockdown and everyone had to stay home. My studio, a 15-minute drive away, was suddenly out of bounds. 


Kitchen view

The weather was gorgeous, with wall-to-wall sunshine for days on end, and on 25 March I did my first ‘lockdown sketch’ of the view through the kitchen window. After that I seized every opportunity to paint and have now completed over 20 watercolours since lockdown began, some from the immediate vicinity of home and others from slightly farther afield as the restrictions were lifted.

Turkey on Good Friday

Somehow lockdown has made me more focused. With all other options taken away, the only option was to paint. The sunny spring weather helped enormously – the air seemed purer, the colours brighter, and traffic noise gave way to birdsong. As an artist inspired by nature and the landscape, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude and appreciation for my home and the countryside around me.

When the time comes to travel again, I’ll be ready to explore other places, but for now my immediate surroundings are all the inspiration I need!