What to draw during a pandemic

I worry too much, all the time, about all sorts of things. Whether they matter or not, are likely or not, regardless of the actual danger involved.

I did not think to worry about a pandemic, and now I find myself unprepared! What do I draw or paint when I don’t know how to begin to think about what’s going on? How do I visualize this virus that’s raging across the planet, on every continent but Antarctica? That we know so little about, and yet are becoming so intimate with?

Sometimes I can draw the thing that’s scaring me. I kept looking at the virus picture the CDC put out, the one with a gray body and red triangular spores haloing it. But I couldn’t get anywhere with that reference. It felt too real, too scary to caricature. So I went in a different direction and thought about the growth aspect of the virus, how it spreads so fast. Like a molecular pinball machine that sprouts with every bounce.

March 16th, The Coronavirus Pandemic (journal entry). I couldn’t find a way to draw the virus that looked anything like the version from the CDC that they show in the news. But I finally settled on rings and lines and vines.

But my anxiety kept spiking, and I couldn’t keep working on that page. I needed to feel hope and wonder again, some good emotions to be the mental floaties that keep my head above water. Result: strange venomous manticore-tailed flamingo that wants to pet a kitty. Because who doesn’t want to pet a kitty right now? Kitties are much more smoothing to think about!

Sketch solidifying before outlining. I like a cartoony style, and an overall hopeful or optimistic feel. But I try to add details that suggest the world the creatures inhabit is not all positive and danger-free.
Work in progress. I’ve got the colors blocked in with Inktense paints and Tombow markers. More detail to come with colored pencils.
“Petting Kitties while Social Distancing”
Done for now. Colored pencils are my favorite for finishing details.

Do you draw or paint when you’re afraid? What sorts of subjects or styles help you deal with overwhelming feelings?

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