A year like no other 2020, ( or my year in watercolours)

A year like no other 2020, ( or my year in watercolours)

So New Year's Eve is upon us and try as we might to forget the past 12 months, this is inevitably a time when we look back on the past year. 

Personally this has been a difficult year for me (as it has for millions around the world) , but receiving a cancer diagnosis just over 12 months ago  meant this year has been trickier than most . Then the whole world was thrown into turmoil when the pandemic began to bite. Phew I think we can just give ourselves a pat on the back for making it through , while we pause to think about those we have lost and those they have left behind who feel their loss the most.

However I consider myself very lucky as I have been able to work throughout it all, and my work not only gives me an income but gives me great joy. This year more than any other I have felt connected to the world via my blogs and social media pages, you don't know how much it means to feel my work touches people all over the place and we can connect through the simple act of creating art. When you like, comment or even buy a piece of my work I feel very happy so thank you all. Being based online has been a real bonus.

So what has happened in my watercolour world ..well they say necessity is the mother of invention....so last Spring when I was feeling my most unwell after chemo it was difficult to get out to my studio and work. However I  still wanted to create and so my pencil sketches were born , I could sketch a bit while convalescing  on the sofa , I realised I could still draw, and it was great to be creating.




This year as most things  went online and we all had to adjust, zoom became a word we all began to use! I always try to enter a piece in the Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition , it is  nail biting to see if I will get in, and this year it felt very important to me indeed. So I was so thrilled when my polar bear made it, although I knew I wouldn't be well enough to get to London. But maybe the Gods were smiling on me after all, as they had to do the whole thing online . They have also used the polar bear as their Christmas card this year, and have asked me to do some more work for them next year, I feel very excited indeed.



Now I have to decide on next years' entries and begin biting my nails all over again !

We all began to see rainbows everywhere , as we tried our best to thank people who were and still are working unimaginably hard  to keep us safe, save our lives, feed us, provide essential services. It is difficult as nothing seems adequate, but I do think kindness and thankyous are important. I was thrilled when Ken Bromley art supplies asked me to provide a rainbow for the cover of their catalogue 

Watercolour and rainbows work very well , another first for me . It felt very important to honour the NHS as I have received amazing care , during very difficult times .

I was also asked to do some more work for Lympstone Manor, they have built some shepherds huts in their grounds and asked me to paint a piece for each one. This one was called Otters Holt

I also did some lettering for them which was a first for me again.

I think you can guess the name of this Shepherd's Hut.

Personally in my work I have made some breakthroughs this year....I have begun to master my paintings of the sea, working out a way that made them finally come alive . I have always loved the sea, and dreamt of visiting Cornwall all through my treatments, when I made it to Sennen it was very special indeed




I think adversity has made my work better. I want to get things right , who knows what is around the corner?


I also began to experiment with backgrounds...a whole new world for me.

And this

and even this

I feel very thankful for all my art brings me, and I am looking forward to next year with real excitement. I have some new projects in the pipeline, I plan to order some new cards and paint some new pieces. I will also try to keep blogging to help any of you that want to have a go at painting with watercolours, it's not easy but I can highly recommend it.

I think we shall all remember 2020 , I do hope that wherever you are that you can keep safe and well and that 2021 dawns brighter for us all .

Happy New Year x

Back to blog


Hi Hazel, thanks for your kind words I hope the painting goes well, I am doing ok but still have a way to go xxx

Rachel Toll

Hello Rachel, I have only just discovered your lovely work (through K. Bromley’s catalogue) like yourself in late 2019 I too was diagnosed with cancer, and I agree with you this, combined with the pandemic has been tough. Looking here at your work, has made me want to get my paint box out again, and try to ‘loosen up’ I love your style, and find your tips inspirational…thank you for sharing….and health wise, I hope you are making a good recovery…

Hazel Brown

This post is very special. Have followed a long while, but am so behind in my keeping up with the art blogs I follow I just came to this post today. I appreciate the good you’ve minded through this past horrible year. I brought my mother from hundreds of miles away to live with us due to Covid, and a few months later my father died of Covid ( they are divorced) . It’s been a traumatic year in a multitude of ways, but escaping to enjoy my favorite artists has seen me through some dark days. Your work and art is so appreciated. Thank you for overcoming your hardships to keep chasing beauty.


Thank you Rachel so much for your blogs and wonderful watercolour lessons. They have kept me busy through the past year. So sorry to hear your sad news but what an inspiration you are and I am so happy that, from a sad experience, you have found inspiration. What a wonderful talent you have not only your painting but a great communicator. Happy New Year to you and may it be a good one!

Kate Rowe

Best wishes to you Rachel! You are so inspiring. Absolutely love your work and your blogs with little tutorials. Thank you so much! Hope to learn much more from you.


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