Vandy Massey has found it hard to tackle large paintings during these uncertain times, but luckily, she has a marathon art project to finish and would like others to join her.

VE was poignant for me – it reminded me of my grandparents and their stories of the war, rationing and helping others. It was a time of willing personal sacrifice, with everyone working towards a common cause.

Covid-19 has thrown us all into the strangest of times and it isn’t surprising to find we react in unexpected ways.  Many of us (including me) find ourselves, in contrast to the wonderful motivation of the Awash exhibition, now less helpfully, awash with uncertainty.

When I find myself lacking the motivation to paint anything of substance, I turn to working on postcard sized artworks for a charity project.

Why turn to painting this small?

Painting small pieces has given me opportunities to experiment, and the motivation to pick up my brushes, even when life is uncertain. The format allows me to try new styles, different media (ink and acrylic paints in posca pens, gouache, adding collage elements to watercolour and more) and explore new aspects of creativity.  The size of the paintings makes a short painting session feel quite manageable, and I have found it a good way to get back into the swing of painting regularly when my painting mojo has abandoned me.

What is the project?

In 2015, I set out to paint 1000 postcard sized watercolours to sell in aid of Care for Casualties, a charity that supports injured members of the Rifles Regiment. The funds go towards rehabilitation and support in rebuilding their lives.

Because it was yet another project crammed into my already busy life, and because it supports physical rehabilitation, I decided to call it Running with Brushes. After 5 years, it is more of an ultramarathon than a sprint, but I have been supported by artists from all over the world who have loved the idea and sent through paintings to help me reach my goal.  Every artist who contributes a painting is credited on the website, with links to their online profiles if they have them. This is an inclusive project where professional and amateur artists alike have donated paintings.

The paintings are sold online, with 100% of the proceeds going to Care for Casualties. We have collectively produced almost 800 paintings, sold 350, and raised over £6500 for the charity. This feels like a good time to see if we can take a big step towards reaching the final number.

Here are some samples of the work done by Vandy since lockdown began.

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Painting Positive Postcards

You are invited to help the project over the finish line, have your artwork featured online and stand a chance of winning one of 3 Tindalls vouchers.

The paintings

  • Paintings should be water-based media on paper.
    • Paper size: 110mm x 158mm.
    • Image size: 92 x 143mm (approx.) Note: If the image goes all the way to the edge of the paper, some of it will be cut off by the mount, so anything outside of the image size should not be vital for the composition.
  • Each painting must have the artist’s name and a title written on the back.
  • Paintings should be unmounted and unframed (they will be mounted and packaged before being sold, but you don’t have to worry about this).
  • All paintings must be original works by the artist and not copies of any other works. By submitting paintings, the artist confirms that they own the rights to the image. The artist also agrees to allow the image to be used in digital format for purposes of promoting the charity project.

How to enter

  • Entries are open to all SEAW members and friends of the SEAW.
  • You can send in as many paintings as you choose. Each painting will be entered into the selection for the competition.
  • Paintings should be placed in an envelope. Please include a covering note with the artist’s email address and a telephone number. Contact details will only be used in the case where there is a query about the painting. The address for entries is: 19 Church Close, Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire, CB22 4NY. You do not need to send each painting separately, send all your entries in one envelope.
  • If you are a member and have a gallery on the SEAW website, we will use this as the link for your credit on the Running with Brushes website. If you are a Friend of the SEAW and you would like a link, please include the URL of your website or your social media profile in the information you send with your entries.
  • There is no cost to enter (apart from the postage), but paintings must be fully donated for the project – artists will not receive any of the sale proceeds.
  • The deadline for sending in paintings is 30th June 2020.

The process

  • All paintings will be scanned and put in a competition gallery on the SEAW website, as well as put up for sale on the Running with Brushes website.
  • The winning paintings will be selected by a third-party judge, not associated with the SEAW or Running with Brushes (details TBC).
  • The judging will take place by 15th July (to allow time to get all paintings scanned and the websites updated).
  • Paintings may be sold before the final deadline as the judging will be done on the basis of the digital image.

How else can you help?

Buy a small painting

Whether you contribute by painting, or just enjoy the idea of the project, perhaps consider buying a Running with Brushes painting as a surprise gift for someone who could do with a smile and a reminder that you care. And please share the website with friends who might want to help a charity in this challenging time. That way, everybody wins.

Note from Vandy

I would love the paintings in this competition to have an uplifting theme. Although there are no rules about subject matter, in the light of our current challenges, here are a few suggestions:

A story of the heart (who or what have you loved during lock down – even if it is someone or something you’ve missed?)

A story of appreciation (what have you come to value and appreciate as a result of lockdown?)

A story of discovery (what have you learned during lockdown?)

I am enormously grateful to the SEAW committee for agreeing to support the Running with Brushes project with this competition. It would be absolutely amazing if we could finish it this year, but even if we don’t, every painting counts, and every purchase goes towards supporting an immensely good cause.