Today’s Sktchy portrait is of Christine’s husband. I don’t know his name; Christine posted his photo on Sktchy but didn’t add his name. I love his wistful expression. Last week I made a commitment to draw a portrait of an older person at least once a week in honour of all the older people dying in care homes in the UK in the coronavirus pandemic. This is this week’s portrait.
I drew this on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app.
The Sktchy app, which is the source of almost all my inspiration photos, is mostly predominantly full of photos of younger people, and mostly young beautiful women. Of course men post photos there too and parents post plenty of photos of their children. But, as in society, people over 40, and especially women over 40, are largely invisible, and for older people , those over 60, even more so. This isn’t true for the Sktchy artist community, of course, just for the “muse” community, the people who posts selfies wanting to be drawn. Most of the images of older people you find if you hunt them down are of other artists who’ve posted a few pictures for their profile. But there are a few wonderful older muses who get drawn often (1) because they are fabulous to draw and (2) because there are so few of them. So if you’re an older person reading this and would like your portrait drawn by lots of different artists download the Sktchy app and upload some good selfies.
I wanted to draw someone older today because I wanted to honour the many thousands of older people who are dying in the UK at the moment and whose deaths are not even being counted properly. It must seem like many of them are invisible to everyone except their loved ones. So it felt important to say that they are not invisible, that they are not forgotten, if I am thinking about them then so are millions of others.
I’ve decided to try to draw a Sktchy portrait of an older person once a week in honour of those dying in the community of coronavirus, mostly older people, many of whose deaths are not being properly recorded.
I painted Lesley with Zecchi watercolours in a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
Today’s portrait is a seagull drawn from a Sktchy photo uploaded by Kris. I live in Brighton on the south coat of England, a city with its fair share of seagulls. Some consider them a plague, personally I love them.
Every year two seagulls nest in our chimney pots and around this time of year their eggs hatch and for a couple of months I watch my chimney pots as the chicks grow into fledglings. I love the expectation, waiting to see how many chicks there are, trying to count them as they start to move around between the chimney pots, never entirely sure until they are big enough to fight for space in their cramped quarters.
This year the gulls are back again and I’ve been watched them build their nest and guard it for some time. I’m pretty sure the chicks have now hatched because one of the gulls is permanently stationed on the chimney and they appear to be feeding chicks, but they’re not moving around yet. It feels more important to me than ever before that they are there this year, because they are a daily reminder to me that the world is still turning, that nature is still doing what it does, it’s patterns are unchanged, if anything they are reinforced by the slowdown in economic growth. Watching the seagulls carry on with their lives just as they do every year is the most reassuring thing I have seen this spring. It brings me peace in a way that nothing else has done. I’m hoping there are at least 2, perhaps even 3, chicks this year. I’ll let you know.
I drew the full on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app.
This is a portrait of one of my Sktchy artist heroes Mr Bandit. It captures my life so perfectly right now, since I mostly live it through a Zoom screen. I spend several hours each day remote working, having virtual coffees (with colleagues, family and/or friends) and participating in online classes. And then I spend an hour or two drawing and playing Animal Crossing on my Switch (yes, another screen) to keep me off Twitter.
I drew Mr Bandit in a Midori cotton sketchbook with Copic markers and Prismacolor coloured pencils.
Some days you just feel like giving up. Today has been one of those days. In fact this week has been one of those weeks. Just keep drawing… going to get through coronavirus and whatever follows one portrait at a time.
I drew this on my iPad Pro using the Procreate app.
Today’s portrait is of a photo posted on Sktchy by Laya of someone she describes as her love. I’m not making any assumptions about whether that’s a partner, husband, best friend or family member! What I do know is that I’m still obsessing about whether or not to cover my face when I go outside – most people still aren’t, and while I know it’s a sensible thing to do I hate feeling conspicuous. I want to be invisible.
I painted this portrait in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook with Zecchi Toscana watercolours and finished it with Prismacolor coloured pencils.
Japan is very high on my list of places I’d love to visit, though for a whole host of practical and health reasons I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. So I loved every minute of drawing Sktchy muse Cola’s Portrait, drawn from a photo taken in Yukata. I was very nearly transported away from lockdown Britain to a tearoom in Japan for the couple of hours I spent drawing this – it was possibly my favourite drawing session ever.
I’m so glad I learned to draw, especially now. Anything that can give me an escape from the anxiety of lockdown is precious indeed.
I drew Cola in my Midori Cotton sketchbook with Copic markers and Posca pens.
I’ve practiced mindfulness for many years. It’s been one of my most important coping strategies when it comes to looking after my mental health and managing my chronic pain. In the many years I’ve been using it there have been only two times when I’ve really struggled with it, finding it hard to focus well enough even to practice and/or finding myself avoiding practice because to do so was so difficult. The first time was after I developed Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and the second is now. Both times the enormity of the situation has just felt too huge to allow my mind to be calm.
And yet, in the past few days, I am finally finding calm when I pick up my pens and my sketchbook or iPad and draw. I am beginning to find that mindful attention to the present moment returning when I’m focused on drawing portraits, more so every day. It’s taken five weeks to get here and it really is baby steps but I’m counting it as progress. I still can’t find the focus to sit down with my Mindful or Headspace apps, that’s asking too much of my frazzled, panicked mind, but an hour or so of portrait drawing a day is something I’m deeply grateful for.
I drew Sktchy muse Akeem on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app.