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Covid Reflections - New work by Stephen McClean

Tell us about the inspiration for your latest series of work Covid Reflections?

It was my observations of what I saw during the lockdown, witnessing the fear on people's faces when a stranger got too close to them. The awkwardness of passing someone on the pavement, people struggling with how to greet friends, acquaintances or strangers. 

Did you find it difficult to work or change the way you work during the lockdown?

No, I didn't find it difficult. I recycled and re-stretched canvases, beachcombed for boards and bits of wood I could use. I did have a limited palette as it was difficult to get paint. I had more time to paint but previously I would have worked directly from life, sketches or photos, for this new series I was working more from memory and sketches. 

What did you notice about people's behaviour during the lockdown?

In the beginning, people did adhere to lockdown but over time you could see it slowly easing with people either defying it or being totally fed up with it. I noticed the way people held themselves and moved changed. There is a certain look to the eyes of the fully masked and a sense of purposeful urgency in the movements of people when they are out and about.

Your Covid people appear comically sinister, why are all your subjects anonymous?

I don't necessarily want people to know who they are. I want to paint the 'everyman'. The masks people wear distort how they look and I wanted to represent that sense of discomfort for the viewer.

Tell us about the distinctive colour scheme you chose for this series of paintings?

It's all I had because all the shops were closed. 

Would like to add anything else?

#justpaintingwhatisee #myobservations #blogsarenonsense #ithinkthatsplenty 

We added the hashtags.

A few of Stephen's originals from the Covid Reflections series are available for sale online

Stephen is at his Top Floor Art Studio on Thursdays and Fridays and is looking forward to the return of St George's Market, Belfast from early July, where he sells his art on Saturdays and Sundays.