Pandemic Social Distancing Artwork
Writing about artwork during a global pandemic really isn’t something I expected to be doing at all. Yet here we are in an escalating health and financial crisis and I’ll probably be sharing some art over the next few weeks. I have lots of thoughts on this situation, but I’ll try to keep them somewhat organized. My wife and I are fortunate enough be able to telework for the most part, so we find ourselves mostly self-quarantined and practicing social distancing to “flatten the curve.” If you’re not familiar with the term, basically the idea is to slow and spread out exposure to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed with patients.
This is really important to our health care resources (like hospital beds and equipment), but also to health care workers. It’s easy to forget that even if COVID-19 cases surge drastically, we’ll still continue to see people with other unrelated health problems needing access to emergency rooms, doctors, nurses, etc. There’s a ripple effect to other vital areas too; I would consider everyone involved in the food supply chain to now be an emergency worker. We have to shield workers in grocery stores and everyone else in the chain as best we can.
It also seems in some respects we’re losing the information war to people defiantly ignoring public health best practices. Folks complaining about overreaction have flooded the conversation with reasons not to follow health expert recommendations. I’d rather we look back later and say, “we overreacted” than we don’t do enough and end up with a preventable tragedy. Yes, the usual seasonal influenza is responsible for more illness and death…right now. But the death rate for COVID-19 coronavirus is much higher. If the same amount of people in the U.S. get coronavirus as typically get the flu annually (about 26 million), we’re talking about 442,000 deaths at the most recent U.S. rate.
All that is just to say it’s worth following the experts’ advice to the best extent we all can. Let’s flatten the curve and knock this out. The last thing I want to cover is to list a few resources that I’ve found helpful.
- Johns Hopkins global coronavirus map: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
- Centers for Disease Control resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- New England Journal of Medicine research on how long the virus lasts on various surfaces: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973?query=RP
- Louisiana Incident map: http://ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus/
Anyhow, back to the artwork portion of this write-up after that long discussion. Hopefully it wasn’t too “rant-like” and was only “rant-adjacent.” Since I’m going to be around the house quite a bit in the near term, I’ll probably be drawing more than I have lately. I have a few ideas that have been sitting on the backburner for a while, plus I’m sure to lean on Unsplash for some inspiration at times. I’m only a couple days into this, and I actually have one portrait already. This one is just a lady sitting around. Not exactly a match to the rest of this post, but it felt appropriate because a lot of people are just sitting around now.
Here’s the final version:
There was actually an additional complication I wasn’t anticipating; we’re moving soon, so my wife and I have been packing the house. I left my all-star team of Prismacolors out (Warm Grays, French Grays, Light Peach, White, Blush Pink, Slate Gray, a few random blues, oranges, and browns), but had everything else packed away already. I wasn’t expecting a pandemic, so I just wasn’t ready for a few weeks of drawing. I had to improvise a bit, and will probably have to unpack some supplies.
Overall though, I’m pretty satisfied with the final result here. The portrait seems pretty natural looking, and I managed to work out some effective color substitution. I’m not 100% sure the sweater looks like a fuzzy sweater should, but that’s a small thing in the overall picture. I wish I could remember where the inspiration for this came from though. I thought it was an Unsplash photo, but I can’t find the original. I usually save them in a folder on the site, but I don’t have this one. If I figure that out, I’ll update this post.
I also want to mention that I think I’m finally getting the hang of photographing finished artwork. It’s taken me a long time, but the key for me is apparently laying it out in natural (but not direct) sunlight. Many of my old drawings have sort of a yellow hue in the photographs that doesn’t look great. Maybe during this social distancing coronavirus situation I should take some time to re-shoot the old ones that I still have.
As usual, here’s a progression .gif:
I hope you enjoyed this very unorthodox artwork write-up. Definitely not like any I’ve done before. As I mentioned, I’ll probably have more art to share than usual (assuming I don’t find something else that steals my interest) over the next few weeks. I’m not sure I have all that much to write about to go along with it, but I’ll share what I have regardless.