Pandemic time art brings about many changes for Adlington

Artistic expressions in South Dundas series.

The Leader’s Wendy Gibb has undertaken a series of articles focusing on the visual artists who live and create here in our own community, discussing with them how their work and experiences may have been “influenced” by the “new reality” of a COVID world. Many of the artists also discuss how they perceive the future of the arts post pandemic. Previously featured were artists Jan Mills, Elsie Gallinger, Gene Ward, Karen Fisher and Anne Barkley. Those articles can now be found online at morrisburgleader.ca. This week Gibb spoke with Dorothy Adlington.

MORRISBURG – “When COVID first hit,” said Morrisburg artist Dorothy Adlington, “I simply found I had no desire to paint a canvas for a very long time.”

Instead, this well-known painter found herself using the forced shut downs and gallery closures to explore new ideas, to seek out new approaches and to move her work in different directions.

“In some ways, the shut downs have been a benefit to me personally,” Adlington explained. “I have been creating in my studio, and also taking some free classes on Facebook and Instagram. I actually found myself inspired in a number of ways these last months. I even went back to my old sketch books, ones I’d kept from years ago, and found in them new sources of inspiration. I guess you could say I used them as ‘jumping off points’ for new works.”

She has experimented with paper, painting and creating collages. “I started doing shapes, and now I’ve added people and birds to the works. I could change stances. It’s been a whole new approach for me.”

She did get the chance to attend an all day life drawing class, the Go Figure Group, before everything closed down in March. And “I was involved in a show at the end of June at St. Lawrence College, at the Marianne van Silfhout Gallery (she was a noted artist and teacher and the gallery was created in her honour).” Like so many other artists in these COVID times, “I am exhibiting online my Mark Making, which is my own term.”

To create this style, “I mix black paint, slim it down with a brush, create swirl and shape patterns until I like them, and then go from there,” she explained. Adlington has also been working with water colour paper or canvas, first creating a basic coat like silver. “On top of that I add mixed black, and with a dampened cloth rub out a figure shape, working again until I like it.”
Although she has recently gone back to some full canvases, she initially chose, after COVID restrictions, to spend time working in mixed media and paper “I decided to work in the ‘fun’ things,” she laughed. “I go down to my studio and work every day.”

Adlington has also juried a 3D show in Brockville, devoted to the artistic pieces of the College graduating arts class of 2021. “The works all had to be on line of course,” she explained. “Their efforts were very interesting, but there was no chance to interact with these students directly about their pieces. I believe that personal interaction would have been better. Those students worked hard for this project, yet people can’t get up close, and get a deep feel for their art, which is too bad.”

She talked a bit about the effects that COVID has had, both short and long term, on the artistic community. “I think we all accept that online is just not the same. Coming up close to a piece is important, feeling a painting, experiencing it directly. There really is nothing like the live experience in the arts, to see a piece with your true eyes, not the camera’s.”

Adlington anticipates some changes in her own artistic life. “Even when COVID ends, I am not sure that I will actually open my home studio again. I plan to continue to put pieces into galleries, but I think I will be closing my studio to the general public.”

She has enjoyed taking some free online classes, one key one presented by Louise Fletcher, a noted United Kingdom artist. “I did have to work from recordings,” Dorothy laughed and said, “ to cope with that eight hour time gap.”

However, there have been challenges in this pandemic landscape for Dorothy, as there have been for all the artists in this special series. “I see my family and other artists at a distance. I text to some artists to keep in touch. But the experience of chatting, of feeding off each other’s energy has been missing in these COVID months.”

“However,”  Adlington laughed at the end of our interview, “I can only feed off my own energy right now. With the music cranked up loud in my studio, of course.”

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