pandemic sketches

Meet Grace

Before the pandemic my friend Ruth and I used to show up at The Living Room after the hot lunch was served, and armed with our bags of art supplies, lead an expressive arts group. One of the women who would drop in was Grace. She usually had to leave early to pick up her kids at school, though at least once I remember she was able to bring her daughter with her.

I was impressed with how competent she seemed, even in the midst of what I knew was a housing crisis similar to that of the other women. She would sit down, immediately engage in the art with little need for instruction, express her gratitude for the opportunity and be on her way before we wrapped up.

Months later I ran into her outside The Living Room and she agreed to share her story for the portrait project. 

She was housed and juggling a demanding schedule of work and childcare with the added element of supervising Zoom instruction for two children at home. We finally found some time to talk so I could hear her story. As with all the portrait stories I’ve done, the final story that goes with the art piece is a seriously abbreviated portion of a person’s life.

To see more of the portraits in the series “This is My Story: Women and Homelessness” you may visit the exhibit on the Santa Rosa Arts website.

If you’d like to know more about The Living Room in the context of constantly changing needs in the homeless community, watch this video which presents a look at their open-hearted response to the pandemic!

Click here to watch!


I can’t stop drawing!

One might feel sort of lonely these days, not getting to see your friends or family in person. But one thing is sure. As long as you have wifi and a device to watch, you don’t have to draw alone. I tuned into Sktchy school recently and got to draw Dylan with France Van Stone, a favorite drawing teacher I remember from one of the early Sketchbook Skool courses.


Well I don’t really draw like France, but I enjoyed listening to her commentary and drawing along with her. It made the time go so fast! This is pen, watercolor and pastel pencil on toned paper.


The subject of these studies will remain unnamed (so that I don’t get in trouble!) I did these studies from pictures I took on Face Time using a cool filter which maps the value shapes in interesting ways, making it actually easier to get a likeness and so much fun to paint. The conversation went through various changes from relaxed to animated. What a great tool to learn portrait drawing!


Same person in these two portraits here. Quite an emotional range! Unfortunately I didn’t have access to the filter I used in the previous ones but I’m still practicing mapping warm and cool shapes that show volume.

One could say that these are examples of the emotional roller coaster we all find ourselves on these days. At least it makes for good portrait subjects!


Like this one! from the comic strip filter on Face Time, and captured during a conversation when my subject discovered how much fun it was to mug in selfie mode!


Probably better if I end this post with the pensive face of a young man, perhaps trying to figure out, like the rest of us, where this crazy planet is headed.