Life Under Lockdown - Spreading Positivity - Art Inspiration Right Now - How You Can Help Italy
So it's now day 25 of lockdown here in Italy, something I never thought I'd be saying. Things here, like in many other countries started seemingly slowly and then escalated very quickly. The good news is that new rates of the Coronavirus here are at least starting to decrease, so the lockdown is working just like it did in Wuhan. However, the daily death rate still remains high, now sadly at over 13,000, the worst hit country so far. Initially this lockdown was due to end on the 3rd April but it has just been confirmed that it will be extended until 13th April, and perhaps longer after that.
This is of course a stressful, scary and surreal time for people all over the world. The shining light in all of this has been, no doubt, the solidarity that has emerged. The culture of togetherness and strength has been beautiful for all to see during these uncertain times.
A lot of you will have probably seen the videos of people singing and dancing on their balconies here in Italy. If you haven't already do have a look at a couple of our favourites below, they will brighten up your day!
This Opera singer delights his neighbours by singing Nessun Dorma:
This lady lifted spirits everywhere by dancing on her balcony in Napoli:
Italians wave flags to the nationial anthem
Friends and family have asked us - why has Italy been affected so badly? Well, Italy responded swiftly to the virus, it was the first country in Europe to do so. The healthcare system is actually very good in Italy, amongst the best in Europe, but it has become vastly overwhelmed with the rapid spread in cases. The reason Italy has been affected so badly is laregely due to the fact that this virus predominantly targets the elderly. Italy has the second largest elderly population (by percentage) in the world, after Japan, and has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Italians also tend to be very sociable and have a very high respect for elder generations, different age groups regularly mixing and socialising together. It's one of the many beautiful things about this country.
DAILY LIFE UNDER LOCKDOWN
So what does daily life consist of for us...
We're trying to stick to a solid, as-normal-as-possible routine: breakfast and coffee on our balcony in the morning (living in a block of flats we are so grateful to have our balcony at this time and luckily the weather has been absolutely beautiful these past few weeks, we've never used it so much before). After another coffee, it's time for my daily exercises - this means my yoga routine and then some sort of youtube workout video which I've started using to replace my daily walk (and realised how unfit I actually am - the video says 'easy cardio warmup', it lied, it's definitely not easy). Anyway, after an absolutely essential shower, it's time for some work - for us at the moment this means a lot of emails and a lot of rescheduling of our workshops which were planned to take place throughout this year, and obviously will not (hopefully some will, but otherwise they will all be postponed until Spring/Summer next year). Then we have lunch, again on the balcony, we get the afternoon sun, finally some Vitamin D - this is my favourite part of the day!
And in the afternoon I've started painting again. And Dorian has been my unwilling muse, but he's got nowhere to escape to. If he does manage to escape though I've tried painting a self portrait, or painted from photos online - a friend has just introduced me to some online life drawing sessions called: Croquis Cafe's Videos on Vimeo - definitely check it out, link below. The evenings usually consist of dinner, a bit of reading or Netflix/ Amazon Prime (we've just binged through Sneaky Pete and Self Made for anyone looking for their next series). Sometimes in the evening we put our headphones on and do some dancing - this actually started when we discovered 8D music. Has anyone heard it? The first night we found it we danced around our living room for about 3 hours, both listening to different songs and displaying very questionable dance moves.
Strangely enough, I've actually found that during all of this I have spent more time exercising and more time catching up with friends and family than I did before. Of course the exercise is indoors, and the chats with friends and family are online, but I've now had video/wine evenings with friends who I hadn't spoken to in months, some of them years.
In a way, life feels fairly normal until it's time to do another grocery shop. Like I said I really look forward to this walk to the supermarket as I miss the outdoors. However, it is a brutal confrontation with reality. Being constantly stuck indoors we start to forget what is happening out there. Obviously we're reading the news everyday but it feels like this is all happening far away somewhere. Then it's time to step outside, I go by myself as only one person from each household is allowed out at one time, and I'm confronted with reality again. Silent streets, no cars, the occasional ambulance with it's sirens flashing, a couple of other people on the other side of the street walking with masks on. I pass a pharmacy where there are usually 3 or 4 people waiting outside with masks on, all a few metres away from eachother. My walk takes around 15 minutes, I always aim for our biggest Supermarket, but inevitably end up turning back to a small organic supermarket where the queue is much smaller. And that's it, twice a week I do this walk.
The silent streets of Lucca:
In all honestly what's keeping us positive now is the visualisation of what we are going to do when this is over. The very first day this lockdown is lifted we will go straight to the sea. I'll most likely jump in the water - then have an aperitivo on the beach. The next day we'll drive to the mountains with our camping gear, I don't really care which mountains or where, I just want to be fully emersed in nature for a few days. And truly enjoy it. I hope you all have a something positive planned out too.
Despite the sadness and gravity of the situation, the one glimmer of hope is the positive effect this is having on our beautiful planet - as daily life has come to a halt nature is blooming. Smog and air pollution in cities has visibly reduced, and wildlife has been spotted returning to built up areas. If one positive thing can come from all this, perhaps it's time to reflect upon our lives and think about how we can all make positive steps towards caring for our planet. Whether it's using cleaner energey, eating a plant based diet, buying sustainable products or just respecting the environment around us a little bit more. We can all make little changes in our daily lives.
LIFE FOR AN ARTIST IN LOCKDOWN
So if you're running out of ideas of things to paint at home, here are some of our favourite videos and channels to keep you inspired:
Nicolas Uribe & Dani's: Our Painted Lives
"The easiest way to describe the Our Painted Lives YouTube channel, where we’re hoping people can accompany us while I paint and draw for 5 days a week, Monday thru Friday, initially for two years. The aim of the channel is to present painting as a habitual act, something that can be incorporated into our everyday lives, regardless of whatever level you feel you’re at, or for how long you’ve been painting for."
Alpay has tons of oil painting videos on his youtube channel, from demos, the basics of portrait painting, to thoughts on painting in oil, and useful tips.
Looking for a life model? Check out Croquis Cafe's Videos on Vimeo
Giveaways for Artists
Try our painting challenges on Instagram & Facebook - we'll be giving away an art related prize each week this month. See more here:
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
If you have a soft spot for Italy, here are a few things you can do to help.
Obviously Italy is not the only country that has been affected by Covid 19, but it has been hit painfully hard. Not only the tragic number of coronavirus deaths. For an economy that relies on tourism, many people have lost their livelihoods, and many businesses have been forced to close down. Our thoughts go out to all of those who have been affected by the coronavirus, families of those affected, and healthcare workers. Also to any familes now struggling with no paycheck and not enough to eat. And to victims of domestic violence. Please support if you can.
Croce Rossa Italiana - Italian Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
To help people who struggle to leave the house to get food. Donate here
Helping to combat poverty, stop the spread of Coronavirus and provide medical supplies. Donate here
Helping women who have been victims of domestic violence supporting them on their path to heal. Donate here
Supporting Local Businesses
Check out this blog by Girl in Florence on how you can support Italy locally or from afar.
When all of this is over visit Italy, it needs your support!
ART ESCAPE ITALY
Lastly, on a personal note, obviously our business has been hugely affected by this. If you were thinking of booking one of our workshop or retreats at some point please do - if our workshops this year are cancelled they will be moved to a safer date in the Spring or Summer next year. You will not lose your payment, we will give you a full refund if you can't make the alternate date.
We hope you get a chance to support this beautiful country and visit when all of this is over. Stay safe! xo