Sketched March 16, 2020

Welcome to the new normal. We are hunkering down at home until the coronavirus pandemic gets under control. What to do to stay calm?

I’m trying this: Sketching what I see from my window.

The idea isn’t mine. It comes from northern Italy, the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe.

When the government there closed schools and canceled events, Valentina Raiola and her group of urban-sketching friends took the mandate of social distancing to heart. They canceled all their meetings to sketch together outside and encouraged everyone to draw “what we see from our windows,” and to post the artwork online under the hashtag #uskathome (short for “urban sketchers at home”).

Other groups of fellow sketchers nearby quickly joined in. Riccardo Pastore, in Milan, says he misses hugging his sketching buddies and going to the pub to sketch each other over drinks. But sharing their sketches from home is helping everyone feel connected. More than 1,200 drawings have been tagged on Instagram so far, and now other sketchers from all over the world are joining these virtual sketching parties.

From rooftop views in Paris to a city skyline in Sevilla, drawing enthusiasts all over are capturing unique vantage points to stay creative while dealing with home confinement. The subject matter has also grown to include other aspects of home life: a kitchen stove, cozy living rooms and even rolls of toilet paper delicately rendered in watercolor.

I find it reassuring to see so much creativity coming out of a difficult situation. While the pandemic keeps us apart, looking and contributing to this unique virtual gallery — and peeking into people’s homes across the globe — is keeping my spirits high.

P.S.: Would you like to share your own sketches while confined at home? Email them to me at gcampanario@seattletimes.com and I may include them in a future post.