If I'm looking for positives in the current situation (and I really am) it's that I've got a lot more time to look at what's around me, a big part of which is the park across the road from my front door. It's small and ornamental which isn't the best for exercise (it only takes a couple of minutes to cross it) but it is a reasonably rich and diverse habitat so it's mentally stimulating if you take the time to observe, and that's worth a lot.
The park runs along the river Soar which helps with the diversity, but just as importantly it's part of a little network of adjoining green spaces that takes in the old castle motte, formal gardens and a physic garden that belong to De Montfort University, the gardens attached to Newarke houses museum, and the graveyard of St Mary De Castro. All of them are cared for, but council and church funding being what it is, the park is full of wild garlic and nettles, only a small part of the graveyard is mown, and the Newarke Houses garden has both ancient and wild corners.
Whenever I've sat in the park before it's been with a book or knitting, occasionally to feed the swans, and consequently I did not appreciate just how much there was going on in there. Without the noise of traffic, or the constant traffic of students and others going to and fro, the birdsong is suddenly dominating. Less people around are certainly making the rats and squirrels braver, and whilst the trees have been bare of leaves it's been astonishing to count the number of birds in them, and the variety of butterflies around.
These are, or should be, common birds which is a big part of their attraction to me. I can get to know them, properly observe their habits, and in this instance take pleasure from how well we can co-exist (although I'm reasonably certain they're thriving with less people around to disturb them). It's these kind of observations that make Esther Tyson's work so appealing to me.
I would love one of her small bird paintings or crow studies, or any of her bird paintings really, but currently it's her sparrow studies that are the object of my hearts desire. I had more or less resolved to buy one* when I found I was being made redundant and for now that's that. I can, and do, get a great deal of enjoyment from following her work via Instagram, and twitter. Looking at her images makes me a better observer of the things I can see from my window or on a walk, and I'm frankly in awe of how she manipulates paint.
her website is here, do look her up.
*Expense is relative, when I enquired about prices a small piece was around £250 - I don't know if this is still the case - which seemed very reasonable to me, but also represented a definite extravagance given my budget. I still think it's very reasonable but currently have no budget.