I’m an animal artist, based in North Miller’s Dale. I display and sell artwork at exhibitions, have a stall of arty gifts at various art events including the regular Winchester Art Market, and I paint pet portraits and murals. The most recent of these murals was in the Nick Jonas ward at the Royal South Hants from January to March, which I thankfully finished just days before lockdown!

The pandemic put a stop to all of this overnight and I thought my art business would be crushed. However, over the past year I had also started teaching small groups of children in my home studio and wanted to be able to continue with this so that they could still have some arty escapism through lockdown. So I bought a webcam, did lots of panicky research on how to stream live, and on Easter Saturday I started up a series of free weekly Rainbow Animal painting sessions every Saturday at 11am live on Facebook.

It was open to everyone, and I had people from all over joining in, even as far away as Singapore! Families got in touch to say they were sitting and painting together for the first time – it was wonderful, and there is a huge online Facebook gallery of joyful, colourful images from these sessions.

Now my regular children’s art groups still meet with me weekly to paint via Zoom, and I deliver courses of pre-recorded tutorials through my website www.animalartist.biz for children aged 10 and over. It’s also for adults who want to try something new and they can be anywhere in the world! Before the pandemic I had absolutely no idea this would be the direction my business would be heading in.

So, as I reflect back, my life and business has been changed hugely by current events. It’s been a rollercoaster journey and I’m sure more is to come, but I’d like to highlight how very impressed I have been by so many children’s abilities to adapt and take on the new challenges thrown at them over this period. What a journey for everyone!

You can follow Sally on Facebook on facebook.com/SallyGooddenAnimalArtist to #spreadartyjoy.

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