If there is one thing many of us are missing right now, it’s a hug. Rewind to last March, if you had asked me then, what am I going to miss in lockdown, I am not sure I would have said hugs, but that is the truth. Hugging releases Oxytocin, one of the four happiness chemicals into your brain and that is why our urge to hug is so strong. But did you know that art produces a similar effect? Semir Zeki, Professor of Neuroesthetics at University College London has discovered that looking at art produces another happiness chemical and that effect is increased if the art is meaningful, personal.


Misty morning landscape painting
There has long been a trend to engage artists in creating commissions such as pet portraits, or portraits of people that can no longer be together. These are incredibly important in bringing us joy and making us smile. But now, with lockdown 3.0 here for the next few weeks, and further extended restrictions on travel, there is a need to connect with places that we perhaps haven’t seen in a long time. The view from our childhood home window perhaps, or a holiday home, or simply a favourite beach or garden. It turns out that looking at artworks of these personal views, releases dopamine into the brain, the reward chemical. This means it has exactly the same effect on our wellbeing as engaging in self care activities or eating our favourite food. It’s no wonder that I had clients sending me photos of their commissions over Christmas, telling me how happy they were to have these personal works of art in their lives.


I have always said, why have art created for someone else or indeed, no one in particular, when you can have something that means the world to you. During the last year, I have painted the view from a balcony on an apartment in France, the regular Goan beach holiday scene for a yoga lover, the Himalayas for an adventurous lady and the favourite holiday destination of Gozo for a well travelled couple. I have even painted my own new studio wall with my personal favourite, the Grand Anse beach in Grenada. (Still under construction here).However, ensuring that your choice of material fits your brand is vital. You wouldn’t expect a stair lift company’s sign to be in pink neon for instance.


Grand Anse Beach mural
I can’t create a vaccine or operate a ventilator, but I can recreate landscapes on canvas, board or wall that will make my clients feel happier and less stressed. An alternative hug if you will. Whether it’s in a home or in an office, that is waiting to welcome back it’s workers, it strikes me that whilst a painting will never replace the real thing, it is an effective and deeply satifying way of linking people to places, whatever is going on in the world outside. That I guess, is why dopamine is called the reward chemical, and let’s be honest, we all deserve a bit of a reward at the moment.
Prices start from £300 for an original painting.