• Naseem Syed

‘Lockdown sketches’ by Dai Howell


I'm an artist and writer from the Valleys but I mostly come from a photography/imagery background. I started painting watercolours mid 2019 as a means of stress relief. I've always enjoyed drawing but it's never been part of my art practise. I began just as a means to relax and a reason to go out and draw things.

Has lockdown changed you? How? Why?

I hope not, in many ways I hope it hasn't changed me and I'm mostly the same person as I was before. I think the thing about times like these is we don't get to choose to live through them but we do get to choose how we act during them. I hope lockdown has brought out the better side of me rather than the bad ones.

What made you smile or brought you joy in lockdown? Can you explain it?

I guess painting helped. I found having to post a painting each day was a good reason to go out on a walk and draw something. I live in the Valleys and have always loved the geography and architecture here. The houses and streets don't look like they make sense which I love. It's been a real pleasure going out and looking at the landscape through the means of a sketch book. One moment that made me laugh was a friend in Canada sent me a message to say how he enjoyed my paintings but why did I keep drawing all these funny streets and I had to send him back a photograph to explain the Valleys are really like that. As I've gone on too I've found myself adding more humour into the paintings especially when I find something that I find funny like random cats. I've always painted the Valleys in bright colours because to me it really is a bright and colourful place and I think that's helped with the appeal of them too.

Have you changed since lockdown? Tell me why.

Well it's taken a global pandemic to make me finally buy a car and drive so no more trains for me sadly. I've read a lot more Stoic philosophy too which has been interesting and put things into perspective.

What is the story behind your hand art?

At the start of the first lockdown I began posting a Watercolour each day on my social media outlet. I thought we were in for a tricky and unknown time ahead of us and I wanted to do something to try and help people. I couldn't really do a lot but people had mentioned before that they enjoyed seeing my watercolours pop up on social media (I think mostly because it was something different). So to help in some small way and to hopefully brighten up peoples day's I began posting a watercolour each day. To be honest when I started I thought lockdown would only last a few weeks and now I'm on day 245. I stopped for a while during the summer when lockdown lifted and my work reopened but I began again during the Fire Break and before Christmas. Most of the paintings are just quick sketches on a A6 pad which I add colour to later. I never thought about making them perfect as I didn't think I would be doing them for long. It's been a really lovely surprise the response I've had from them. I'm planning on carrying on now until it's over.

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