My 2020 “Pandemic Sketchbook” chronicled my life during the lockdown through the advent of Covid vaccines. In 2021, I started a new sketchbook whose themes were more hopeful, so I didn’t think of it as a pandemic journal. It was just a way of keeping a habit of sketching several times a week. In 2022, I started a third sketchbook, smaller and the paper is best for dry media only. I made several charcoal sketches in early spring based on museum postcards, snapshots from my 1990’s instant camera and other visual cues uncovered while decluttering my house or reading the news.
Technical stuff: I blocked out the drawing to be three times the size of a standard 5 x 7 greeting card so that when photographed to send to the printer, the resolution would be very high when the size was reduced from 15 x 21 to 5 x 7.
Choose paper color and go! The drawing of my hibiscus bloom, seen in the photograph attached to the easel, is blocked out with a white pastel pencil on green paper.
Starting my 2021 Christmas card
The finished drawing for the Christmas card
I uploaded the finished image to Vistaprint to turn into my 2021 Christmas card. If you read the stories of my other greeting card misadventures, this year was a much smoother experience thanks to the technical and artistic guidance of my teacher. Thank you, thank you to her. And Merry Christmas to all!
This year’s Christmas card is a watercolor painting of a chickadee. The birds in my yard rarely pose long enough for their portrait (ha ha) so my source photograph was taken by my art teacher and used, with her permission, as the model for my 2020 card. I finished the painting in the Fall of 2019 and I sent it to the printers this Fall in time to mail out my cards. However, the mail system is so overwhelmed during the Pandemic, that I am sending more digital copies than usual. Merry Christmas!
When I started drawing and writing in my ‘Pandemic sketchbook’ in early Spring at the beginning of the stay-at-home advisory, I might have thought that the pandemic would end before I ran out of blank pages. Sadly, that is not the case. The virus continues to burn through all the dry tinder of non-immune populations worldwide.
I have three pages to go in my sketchbook and a new, blank one waiting to be filled. The latest page is of tumbling leaves falling downward. I wet the paper with a natural sponge, then painted and splattered fall colors onto the damp page. When dry, I drew the leaves. Using dried leaves I had pressed in a book as templates, I traced around them, adding the veins and details later. I’m hoping that by next Spring, when I have filled up Volume 2 of my Pandemic Sketchbook, we have an effective, widely distributed vaccine and the Pandemic is subsiding.
Oil pastels are perfect for catching the brilliant colors of autumn foliage. In the landscape below, I applied the color as thickly as I could, using quite a lot of pressure and building up layers, then blending with a paper towel and scratching and scraping with a palette knife. The sketchbook paper held up surprisingly well to all that energetic scribbling and scratching!
In the sketchbook page shown below, the oil pastel drawing of a grey sky contrasts with the red and yellow colors of the leaves. Below the drawing I wrote about the onset of ‘Pandemic Fatigue,’ just as Covid cases begin to surge in my town and almost everywhere else in the world.
Painting rocks and putting them out for neighborhood children is completely different from drawing in my sketchbook. The craft is creative, but does not require as much close observation or concentration as a realistic sketch does. I did not put polyurethane on most of the rocks, because if the weather fades them, they will just go back to their original state eventually which is fine by me. Smooth rocks hold the paint pretty well, but porous rocks do not. By spring, I wonder what will be left? And will my Pandemic Sketchbook turn back into a regular old sketchbook in a normal world?