Sunday, March 21, 2021


Lengthy art projects are not new to me. During my first year of sketching, I decided to make one hundred self-portraits, and that took me a couple of months. (Can you believe it? My attempt a couple weeks ago wasn’t the first!) As if that torture wasn’t enough, shortly after that, I sketched my hand a hundred times. My longest project was when beadwork was my primary art medium. On the day after my 49th birthday, I began weaving one small piece of beadwork every day for a year, culminating on my 50th birthday. Afterwards, I mounted the 365 pieces on a single panel for display. (You can see the completed work on this page.)

All those projects had been planned, and I had made a commitment in advance to complete them. My current series of hand drawings, however, is different.

On March 16, 2020, a few days after the World Health Organization had declared a state of global pandemic, I was filled with so much fear and anxiety that I grabbed the nearest pen and paper and drew my hand simply to quiet my agitated mind. Afterwards, I felt better, so the next day, I did it again. I never intended for these sketches to become a series. (If I’d known then that I’d still be at it more than a year later, I never would have begun!) I was a month into the hands before I had committed to the series to the extent that I bought a stamp set to ritualistically count the days.

I didn’t even know what days I was counting. Unlike some artists who had begun series of sketches to endure their locally enforced lockdowns, my effort was nebulous – a self-enforced “lockdown.” It had no end date that I knew of. A large part of my ongoing anxiety was exactly that – not knowing when it would end. Something terrible being indefinite makes it much harder to bear.

By the fourth month of the pandemic, I finally realized what this series was about: It was a metaphor for personal endurance of living through a constant state of being unsafe. It became clear, then, what I was counting: The number of days until I felt safe again.

Last Wednesday Governor Inslee announced that on March 31, 2 million more Washington State residents will be eligible to receive the vaccine, and that tier will include me. When I schedule my appointment, the wait for safety will be finite. And finite feels infinitely better than indefinite. The hand series will end. And that end will be a grateful relief in many ways.


  1. "Finite" sounds promising. It is incredible to think about the number of sketches of your hands you've shared in a variety of different ways. I really admire your commitment to this.

    1. I wanted to quit many times, but it's much easier now, knowing that the end is coming soon!


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