032 / Pandemic Artwork Stories
032 / pandemic artwork stories
WITH PRISCILLA COOTE
Where are you painting from and what have you been doing to keep busy?
This year I have been painting from the northernmost and southernmost ends of the U.S. East Coast. I live in the Florida Keys. When the pandemic first became a reality, I had just driven several hours to my hosts’ home in Palm Beach Gardens to unpack my things for a paintout the following week. The next morning at 5am, I was on a plane to Virginia to attend and videotape the American Society of Marine Artists’ Conference for several days. I then flew back to Florida, jumped into the paintout from the redeye flight—-and then all of a sudden, you couldn’t buy toilet paper. Full stop.
I had to show my license to get home from the paintout, in order to enter through the checkpoint back into the Keys. There we were relatively isolated and safe, and remained that way when we drove, instead of flying, up to northern coastal Maine for the summer. I did 56 paintings during those five months, obsessed with capturing my immediate surroundings and pretty much oblivious to the new normal. Nobody was even wearing masks because there was no virus there.
Now back home in the Keys, I have the water, my passion to paint. I have this precious, precious time to focus and explore as I never have, always too busy before. I have online classes to teach and upcoming solo shows north and south to prepare for.
How did you find inspiration from your surroundings for it?
When I’m scoping out plein air sites, I usually find something fairly quickly. This particular morning in Maine, it was blowing 30 and the fog was especially dense, so I headed inland to new territory to find some calm and sun. Well, I drove around lost forever, and finally stumbled upon this back road. As magic moments go, it was just some trees on a riverbank, but those white birches were at such an angle to be struck by the sun, and surrounded by all colors of leaves and water, I had to pull over then and there.
What is one positive that has come from this experience for you?
So many positives, as I touched on already. One that stands out is the specialness of the people in my life, near and far. Since I can’t see most of them in person, connecting in other ways has taken on new meaning.
What is one of your favorite pieces in the collection from a fellow artist?
Learn more about Priscilla's artwork and story here.