The art of relaxing with Bramley’s John L’Bell

Lockdown led many people to a crafty hobby to pass the time, as well as a few bottles or gin and tonics. For a lockdown retiree, though, lockdown wasn’t the catalyst for rediscovering an artistic streak but it certainly accelerated the number of works created, as John L’Bell has been prolific.


The varied work of John L’Bell was only made apparent to CommunityAd when son Peter posted it on one of the community Facebook pages. Peter has lived here in Bramley for two years declaring to us “we love the village life, being close to nature, and the community spirit”. That community spirit was in abundance when Peter shared his father’s artwork online, with a flurry of supportive and positive comments: “It was amazingly positive! I shared some pictures last year in lockdown and was overwhelmed at the response, with people even asking for commissions. When I told my Dad he was very surprised and we decided to post again. The rest of the family always knew he was very talented, we are lucky enough to get an early look at most pieces so my sisters and I often take the best ones to enjoy ourselves.”


CommunityAd had the absolute pleasure of a chat with the artist himself. John is far from just a little bit handy with a paintbrush and pencil, he’s a Chartered Engineer, a Master of Science and a brave hearty soul.


The reason for that last accolade is that John tells CommunityAd that he credits his good mood and can do attitude to his habit of sea swimming which he does a couple of times a week, including the day in early February that we spoke.


A lot of folks we’ve featured in the magazine since lockdown have told us that art and creative tasks have been pivotal to their mental health but for John it is exercise that keeps him sharp and motivated. For him, his artistic tasks and wonderful creations are like a sort of mediation “Painting, or my scrap wood projects (no timber is bought, it’s all scavenged off cuts or forest pickups) gives me an opportunity to concentrate fully on what I’m doing and forget day to day stuff. This is great therapy”.


John wasn’t one of the masses who turned towards art and crafts to fill a void in the lockdowns of the last few years but he confesses it certainly accelerated the rate at which he was creating. John painted a lot as a youngster, picking it up again in the late 80s briefly but he wouldn’t touch a paintbrush until autumn 2019 when he found himself blessed with the time that retirement gifts you.


When asked about a theme for his paintings John informs “I do like painting animals but now prefer landscapes or cityscapes, and my love of the sea I think comes through. Inspiration is usually the weather, as on a wet or windy day I’m looking for something to do, I just cannot do nothing for more than an hour or so. Techniques wise the land is fairly straightforward but the sea and sky take a lot of practice, one hard line and the reality is gone. I have never had a lesson so it’s definitely practice”.


As well as the painting John has carved many charming creations from salvaged wood and is always looking to put his hand to practical purpose “I have self-built 3 extensions on our house over the years and fitted our central heating etc. I have built several wooden buildings for friends during lockdown”. A very handy chap to have about the place is John and proves the point that you can always rediscover something special.


Peter leaves readers with a message of thanks “I just want to thank everyone who took the time to comment on the Facebook posts, I only wanted to share something positive when everyone was having a tough time but the response was amazing, and the lovely comments definitely inspired him to do even more”.


Keep your eyes peeled across the Bramley & Sherfield community Facebook pages, including Sherfield-on-Loddon Village People, for more of John L’Bell’s art.

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