Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Second Pandemic Sketchbook Filled


Filled with eight months of sketches.

Last July I filled my first sketchbook from the pandemic and then started a fresh one. (By “sketchbook,” I mean the largest one that I use exclusively for urban sketching; I have several others that I use simultaneously, like my small Field Notes for quick captures.) Nearly eight months later, the second one is finally full. That’s a record-breaker for me in terms of longevity: In the Before Times, I typically filled a 52-page Stillman & Birn softcover sketchbook with urban sketches in two to three months, regardless of season. Although I still sketched plenty at home during that period, it’s clear that the pandemic was, shall we say, an inconvenience to my lifestyle.

Nonetheless, when I thumb through those eight months, I vividly recall many beautiful summer days sketching every nook and cranny of my corner of Maple Leaf. The fall, too, was enjoyable. Often captured from my car, many brilliant maples gave me an opportunity to use more color than at any other time.

Not all the pages are pretty, though. One shows a homeless encampment in the Ravenna neighborhood that was new to me (sadly, many new ones have appeared in the past year). Another disturbing sketch shows a bright red sun rising through a smoky wildfire haze.

Sensory memories from those moments rush back with every page I turn. The book took much longer to fill, but every sketch is all the more precious – an ongoing record of my pandemic year.

According to what has become my personal tradition, I stuck a masked Weather Bunny sticker on the cover as a reminder. Then I peeled the wrapper off the next sketchbook. Unlike last July, however, I start this one with hope and anticipation.

A blank sketchbook of hope.


  1. I'm glad that looking back at the pandemic time in sketches was mostly a reminder of the good things we were still able to see despite the anxiety we were all feeling.

    1. We have to hang onto whatever positive outcomes we have from this ordeal!


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