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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.