Works in Progress

COVID Characters: Part II

“An artist’s job is to see. And to go out in the world and see it firsthand, just as it is; to report with line and words what is seen. To be in the world, not just study about the world – that is the artist’s task.” – Robert Fulghum

As of today, there have been 2,151,199 [confirmed] cases of the coronavirus, aka COVID19. The United States is host to 667,225 of them.

Ah, Robert. Dear, Robert. I would usually be in whole-hearted agreement with your assessment of how an artist should go about their task, for how could one speak to a world they’ve never seen with art? However, in this current moment, this pandemic situation has most artists curled up with their favorite beverage, their pets and their families, weathering the storm from behind closed doors and windows. But don’t you worry – create, we shall. 

I have read the currently-popular memes and short accounts of how Sir Isaac Newton developed calculus in total isolation during the bubonic plague. Like many, I was initially inspired by his ability to create under duress, but if you read further, and if you understand how creating things works, you’ll ‘get’ it when I point out that his research and dedication was spread over a longer period of time, and was not likely induced by isolation, as one would love to romanticize. 

So, long story short (you can read the rest of the NewYorker’s assessment of his story here) I’d encourage you to put aside the pressure of all the things you might think you should be achieving during this epidemic. Do your job if you’re blessed to have one, love (and feed) your family, and take care of yourself. And THEN, if you so desire, start dabbling with the things you’re interested in. Explore and play. Try new things. Study our world and internalize how you feel, how you can help, or how you might need help.

Then, and only then, see how you can take those thoughts and connect them to a skill or interest of yours. Something you really enjoy, with no pressure. And that folks, is the sweet spot of creating something truly unique. It’s between the tensions of things in life. Between the tension of one’s hobby or skillset, and their passions or interests; between two seemingly disparate elements that are uniquely connected via that artist’s experiences in life.

Sir Isaac Newton
"This is the popular fairy tale of genius: that great ideas don’t require the tedious work of sustained attention and hard thinking; they arrive in lightning bolts of inspiration, which in turn come only in the right circumstances, like enforced isolation during an epidemic."
- The New Yorker

Speaking of experiences and passions and interests. I’ve continued my efforts to capture some of the shared experiences I’m seeing and going through with my peers during this highly unusual pandemic experience. Here is the 2nd installation of “COVID Characters” series, drawn with an Apple Pencil on iPad, and utilizing the mesmerizing, live watercolor brushes that make the creators of the Adobe Fresco app my personal heroes.

COVID Characters Delivery Pup

“COVID Characters: Delivery Pup”

This digital painting captures another set of unlikely heroes of the COVID crisis. Delivery services! From food to home and family essentials, these services are putting themselves in harm’s way to serve the masses. There’s an awful tension, though, as many are finding themselves having to put themselves into these roles in order to feed their families if their small business or job is considered ‘non-essential’ or they’re furloughed. So we celebrate them with every fiber of our beings, and also honor their experience with an appropriate level of somber gratefulness as well. This piece makes abstract reference to three of the top companies serving in this way for the American people.

COVID Characters: Home Hero

“COVID Characters: Home Hero”

The Home Hero painting captures the juggling role that most parents are finding themselves in at this time. This work-from-home parent represents the combination experience of families who find themselves doing all the things, often at once, and most importantly – from home. Because of its spot in the top pets list in the US, this Golden Retriever makes his debut to also represent the pets who find themselves at home ALL day with their people. We’re all playing the ‘business in front, party in the back’ lifestyle: working any jobs we can remotely, and simultaneously playing/teaching/feeding/maintaining the lives of our sweet, sweet, noisy young. We’re occupying them with art, sports, education and as many have discovered: with geometric window paint or sidewalk chalk collages (as seen in the background). The creativity of parents and teachers alike has abounded during this time of forced online education/homeschool.

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