Pandemic Sketchbook: cooking, gardening, puzzles and other pastimes

With people sheltering in place at home, something had to take the place of going out to socialize, eat, work, work out and other daily activities. Cooking, doing jigsaw puzzles and gardening became really popular. I’m a terrible baker because I don’t follow directions. When I made scones, the flour in my cupboard smelled funny, so I texted a friend who said to throw it out. After digging deeper in my baking supplies, I found a small bag of flour, so I made a small batch of scones. They tasted bland and were hard, so I painted a still life of the scones in the style of a Mexican bark painting that hangs in my studio.

Tea and scones, watercolor

When the weather warmed up, I cleaned up my garden to get ready for spring planting. It has been a cold, but beautiful spring in New Jersey, but the herbs seemed to be growing already in early April.

Herb garden, pen and ink

Puzzles are really in demand. Luckily I found two in my coat closet. It turns out, I’m not a very patient puzzle person, so again, I drew the picture instead of sorting the pieces the first day. A month after this painting, the puzzle is only half done!

Starting a jigsaw puzzle, watercolor

Pandemic Sketchbook: still life with mask

Still life with mask, charcoal pencil
Still life with mask, charcoal pencil

Grocery shopping during the pandemic requires a mask in New Jersey. Store shelves are often empty and some things are almost impossible to find. But this week, I found a bag of dried peas and the prize: a roll of toilet paper! I tried to draw this still life with a dramatic, raking light and very dark and light values.

Pandemic Sketchbook: walking around town

 3 Walking people
Wall Street Walks and Talks during Work from Home
Woman Walking a dog
Walkies: Dogs seem happy their owners are working from home

I started sketching scenes from my daily walks during the stay at home mandate. I spotted people taking work calls as they walked. Lots of dogs happily being walked many times a day. People waved and were friendly, while keeping at a six foot distance. Towards the end of the first week, I spotted police wrapping playground equipment in orange snow fencing and putting up yellow police tape to keep kids off the equipment. The mayor sent out an announcement that parks would stay open if people kept their distance, but playground equipment could carry some risk of transmitting the virus, so we were advised not to allow children to use them. That scene and the cawing crows in the trees made this a sobering moment as the virus began to spread from New York to New Jersey.

Police tape off playground equipment

The Value of Canada Geese

In recent days we’ve learned that the United States and Canada have lost three billion birds since 1970! I drew this picture of two Canada Geese last Spring before that sad news story broke. My art teacher photographs the birds and other wildlife in New Jersey. This drawing is based on one of her photographs. As in previous exercises, the challenge for me was to get the very dark values and to accurately catch the range of values from their bright white feathers to the midrange grays of the pond. I borrowed a 6B XXX pencil (or something way beyond my 5B) from my teacher which enabled me to catch those velvety, reflective black feathers on their necks. I hope my drawing is not a Momento Mori for our birds and their turtle friends here in New Jersey. Note: admittedly there seem to be too many Canada Geese on corporate campuses and public parks, but other species don’t adapt so well to our human sprawl and overuse of pesticides.

Drawing of geese

Canada Geese, pencil