Pandemic Anxiety: An Oil Painting Collection x Jane Forrest

art and words by Jane Forrest

These oil paintings express the anxiety I’ve felt throughout the pandemic, but each functions in a different way. They are about working through these feelings of anxiety, but also allow me to escape from them. Their purpose is to remind myself and others that what we are feeling right now is valid. I hope that they resonate with people, and let them know that they aren’t alone.

“Empty Highway”

30 x 40 inches

This painting is about the moment of realization that this pandemic we are living through is so much more severe than I had thought. Around mid-April 2020, I went running around my neighbourhood. This was the first time I had really left my house since March.

It was damp and cold, but I was so thrilled to leave my house that I didn’t care. I ended up at this bridge overlooking the highway. It was about six o’clock, rush hour. Usually at that time the highway would be packed with people, but when I was there I saw that the highway was empty, and realized the world had stopped.

This virus was even worse than I could have ever imagined.


24 x 40 inches

When making this painting, for the first time it wasn’t about the end result, it was about the process. I was letting go of stress, anger and anxiety that was a result of this pandemic. Before I had used art as an escape, but during this process of letting go, I was using art as a tool to work through life.


Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

This painting is what the anxiety of the pandemic feels like to me. I am floating and have no control. I don’t know when I’ll get to hug my grandparents again, or if I’ll get to see my friends on my 16th birthday. I am constantly told “just a few more weeks,” “it will be over soon,” but then there’s another announcement, and another lockdown.

The light represents art, and specifically my art class at school. Art has been getting me through this pandemic, and the community at my art school is the light in all of this darkness.

Jane Forrest
Jane Forrest

Jane Forrest is a 15-year-old artist based in Toronto. She is currently majoring in contemporary art and studying contemporary photography at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. She is a painter and photographer and generally works with oil paint on canvas.