ART has thrived during lockdown as we have surprised ourselves by unlocking our creative side. Often with more time on our hands, and nowhere to go, our minds have wandered to distant lands, real and fantastic.

And more and more of us have dug out long-forgotten brushes from the attic and committed our thoughts and dreams to canvas.

It is, of course, nothing new to our children who have more of a keen sense of make-believe and the natural world if we just listen to them.

Scottish artist and broadcaster Lachlan Goudie was inspired by his own three-year-old daughter Clementine and the nightly bedtime stories he has been reading to her during lockdown for his latest exhibition.

While she also brought out his own wanderlust as he explored his favourite places and reached into his own imagination for his art.

He explained: “Each day during lockdown my daughter demanded to wear one of her garishly coloured ‘princess dresses’ as she accompanied her mother and younger brother on walks in the blossoming garden, or in the local countryside.

“A sight which seemed so discordant at first, assumed the appearance of the new normality. Clementine’s single-minded enthusiasm, her determination to inhabit this fantastical inner world, was hugely powerful and uplifting at a difficult time.

“As parents, my wife and I attempted to insulate our children from the troubling events that were unfolding beyond the garden wall. Fairy tales, nature and the tide of springtime flowers and birdsong that seemed to envelope the place we had escaped to, provided almost all the necessary distractions.”

Goudie, who penned The Story of Scottish Art, a page-turning epic story of how 5000 years of creativity defined a nation, will showpiece his new works at The Scottish Gallery.

His paintings explore landscapes including rural Berwickshire, the same countryside the Glasgow Boys walked and painted in in the mid-1880s, alongside still lifes which offer a counterpoint to the energy of the living landscape.

The collection of works offer a glimpse into Goudie’s own experience and inadvertently commemorate this strange moment in time. Here, Lachlan Goudie reveals what he is saying to us in his new work.

Once Upon A Time will show from October 25 to November 25.

The National:

1. Fairy Tale, 2020, oil on board app 90x100cm

I SPENT the long months of lockdown with my wife and two young children in the Dorset countryside. We were hugely fortunate not to be confined, like so many people, to a small flat in the city. Nonetheless, a kind of mental lockdown imposed itself. I found it hard to concentrate, hard to paint with all the relentless bad news and anxiety. During this period, my three-year-old daughter, Clementine, came to my rescue. She had become obsessed with fairytale and every night insisted that I read and re-read storybooks filled with princes, princesses, sorcerers and magical forests. Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel were all that she wanted to hear about. Slowly this world of enchantment permeated my own imagination so that by day I began to look at the surrounding landscape through the prism of the books I used to have as a child; beautifully illustrated volumes of Scottish and Russian folktales.

The National:

2. Once upon a time, oil on board, 96x86cm

DURING the day, Clementine continued to live in a world of make-believe and fairytale. Like so many girls of her age, she had become entranced by the Disney cartoon Frozen. She would sing the songs and roam the countryside completely immersed in the character of the cartoon’s icy powered heroine, Elsa. Central to this performance was the shimmering, vibrantly coloured dress which her parents had dutifully purchased online and which she wore from morning to night – whether thrashing her way through the undergrowth or sitting having her breakfast. Elsa and her red wellingtons would appear in the distance, returning from a walk with her mother whilst I painted in the garden. You could see that dress a mile away. What, at first, l found garish became the living embodiment of how from cradle to grave, the human imagination is the greatest power we have. It can transport us from reality, perhaps from our worries, whenever we need it to.

The National:

3. Irises, oil on board, 96x86cm

FOR such a bleak time, it was a beautiful spring. From March through to June, I watched nature surge into life around me. Whilst human health was threatened, the flowers in the garden and the leaves on the trees did their thing; immune to infection. It was an example to us all, a symbol of renewal and hope. My attention was grabbed by a bank of irises and I returned to them day after day. They bloomed gloriously one after another in delicate explosions of colour and life. But I still only had a short window in which to complete this painting before they all faded. I’m well aware that irises are a subject made famous by Van Gogh – an artist who went through many periods of difficulty and distress but still managed to create some of the most life-affirming masterpieces ever painted.

The National:

4. Roses, oil on linen, 20x20cm

I regularly paint still lifes of flowers. It seems like a such an unremarkable subject, but flowers remain one of the greatest challenges for an artist to capture. They are fragile but full of life, devilishly complicated in their structure but symbolic of a kind of simple purity. As spring progressed my daughter would regularly notice the latest roses to have blossomed and would encourage her mum to help her cut the flowers and make small bouquets. She would bring them to me in the studio, how could I not paint them?

The National:

5. Against the Failing Light, 2017, oil on board, 112x133cm

My father, Alexander Goudie, was a Scottish painter who died in 2004. During the lockdown months, illness and bereavement were never been far from people’s minds. It got me thinking about my dad. This painting, ‘Against the Failing Light’, is really a portrait of him, or at least the two of us. My father taught me so much about painting and nurtured in me a great love of Scottish art. I inherited his paint encrusted palette, his brushes and easels, his old bottles of linseed oil and turps. In the painting I feature his favourite flowers, anemones, and a reflection of me in a mirror painting the very scene you are looking at. I hope he would have liked it.

The National:

6. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, 2020, scraperboard, 40x25cm

During a visit to the Borders with my family earlier in 2020, we had all slept in a castle. It was a wonderful 19th century folly, a building of turrets and towers, of ornate balconies and narrow, arrow-slit windows. The master story-teller, Sir Walter Scott, would have been proud to call it home. My daughter couldn’t believe her eyes. This was nothing other than Sleeping Beauty’s castle, a house of many rooms where a spinning wheel might just lie behind a door – something on which a careless princess could prick a finger! In the garden there were great heaps of brambles and thorns, just waiting to envelop the sleeping fortress. And against the sky the branches of a magnificent oak tree thrashed and twisted.

The National:

7. Enchanted Forest, oil on board, 51x35cm

This is an ancient forest in Lammermuir, in the Scottish Borders, which surrounded the castle where we stayed. The countryside here is thick with history. There was once a Medieval priory nearby and you can still visit the ruins of an iron age hillfort and a Broch dating from the 2nd century in the area. Perhaps most significantly for me as an artist, however, was the fact that this location was near the coastal village of Cockburnspath where in the 1880’s many of the Glasgow Boys came to paint. In my new book The Story of Scottish Art, I write about the work of these great artists, but it was really by painting in the places they painted that I learned most about their techniques and motivations.

The National:

8.The Snow Queen, 2020, acrylic on board, 100x90cm

Before lockdown I had planned a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mauritius for seven weeks with my family. I was going to paint a series of tropical landscapes which were to compliment a number of arctic scenes I was already working on. Whilst sketching in the arctic, I had experienced a feeling of both awe and anxiety. There was a constant sense that if you strayed off the path it may be hard to find your way back. That combination of wonder and fear lies at the core of children’s fairytale and The Snow Queen was one of the unnerving stories my daughter particularly enjoyed listening to.