Taking It One Hand at a Time

Tina Hand Drawing

by Tina Koyama

My Leuchtturm weekly planner is eerily empty. As a mostly retired introvert, my calendar is never overly full, but it hasn’t been this blank since seventh grade. Jazzercise on Mondays, yoga on Wednesdays, an Urban Sketchers meetup every second Fridays – all gone for the foreseeable future (thank goodness the trash pickup is still on Thursdays, or I’d lose all my weekly markers).

Tina Hand Drawing

A week or so after Washington State’s (and the US’s) first COVID-19 deaths became public, my anxiety level was ramping up as fast as the infection curve. Drawing always takes my mind off other things, so I wanted to keep going with my usual sketching habit, but I was having difficulty focusing. Nothing grabbed my eye, and I kept fussing about which (of my admittedly vast supply of) art materials to use. I needed something to draw that I didn’t have to look for or be inspired by first. One morning I simply grabbed a Bic ballpoint that I had last used during InkTober and started drawing my own hand (which happened to be “handy”). It worked: The act of focusing on the drawing calmed my agitation so that I could move on to other tasks.

Tina Hand Drawing

Over the next few days, I drew my hand each day. When I shared the sketches on social media, I joked that I had become more aware than ever of my hands, squeaky-clean but increasingly chapped as they were.

Tina Hand Drawing

I know that many writers and other creatives start their day by writing “morning pages” in the Julia Cameron tradition. I decided that drawing my hand every morning would give me the same kind of daily focus I needed to get through this global disaster. It gives me a bit of structure on my empty calendar. Like writing morning pages, it clears my mind while also giving me time to reflect if I’m ready to. Sometimes the act of sketching shakes loose some thoughts that are worth following up, so I end up journaling afterwards.

Tina Hand Drawing

For now, I’m sticking with simple materials so that I can grab any paper without worrying about whether it’s compatible. A favorite notebook has become one by Shizen Design that Ana gave me a while back. It contains five bright colors of paper bound into one book, and the thin paper seems to do best with ballpoint and pencil, so I get an easy color fix without fuss.

Tina Hand Drawing

Take care, everyone, and wash your hands. Please share in the comments how you are getting through each day. You can follow my daily hand sketches on Instagram.

tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Your post reminded me of my grandmother, who also used to draw hands, her own, others’, and ones based on wooden models. Your drawings are remarkably expressive and will be a unique recording of your reaction to this horror.

    I’ve been using the “30 Inks in 30 Days” (#30Inks30Days) Challenge this month to distract myself a bit from the swirling anxiety and fear. If I can make it a habit, I’ll keep going after the end of this month.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and drawings.


  2. I’ve been trying to learn how to sketch a little. And I’ve been copying inspiring quotes with my fountain pens and trying my hand at a bit of lettering too. My previous habits of journaling and reading are also helpful, though like you I’ve had some trouble focusing. Thanks for the post.

    1. It’s great that we all have stationery-related interests that are easy to do at home! Stay well, Mary!

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