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Art In the Time of Coronavirus

When the lockdown started, a few of my friends asked me if I was spending the additional time writing. The question would always come as a shock, no matter how many times I’ve heard it before. The answer was always the same – to write, you need a cool head. Mine has been hot mess.

The pandemic hit me hard. I won’t go into details here why I think that was so. What you need to know is that insomnia and anxiety came like a tornado. For months I had struggled with a few basic human activities, like sleeping, eating and not crying every 11.4 minutes. Fun fact: I get some of the craziest inspiration for my stories in my dreams, and my dreams were non-existent for almost 2 months.

But there was one other form of expressing myself that I found very soothing – visual art. When the lockdown started, I ordered a coloring book with some colored pencils and a cross-stitching kit. Both activities I did as a child and hadn’t done them since I was 10. I thought it would be cool to give them one more try. While I lost interest in cross-stitching very quickly, I fell in love with coloring.

I loved combining colors, seeing how they go together – bringing those pictures to life. At this point it’s necessary to reiterate how all along I had no idea what I was doing, given I hadn’t held a colored pencil since my pre-teen years. So I did what every 21st century geek would do – look it up on Youtube. Soon I began learning these concepts like blending and shading – terms I’ve maybe vaguely heard before but never bothered to understand what they meant.

Soon I invested in a better set of pencils, until finally – I bought artist-grade pencils. In those moments, when I was laying down color, the world just grew a little bit quieter. The walls of the apartment seemed just a little bit less restrictive, new worlds were unlocking in front of me with every stroke of color. Finally I gave in and bought a proper paper, with a desire to draw my own lineart that I can color.

I started watching all these artists on Youtube and it didn’t take me long to realize I wouldn’t be able to draw like that even if I were to go through three different lifetimes. I’m not even talking the level of “being able to sell drawings and make money out of it”, I’m talking level of “drawing something that doesn’t look like it was drawn by a 6-year old child”.

These people see pictures. I don’t, I never have. But I DO see stories. My mind is always filled with situations, sentences, dialogues, monologues, characters waiting to be given a chance to breathe. (Isn’t that what we all desire right now – a chance to breathe?)

My worlds are created by words, not by pencil strokes.

There is no great happy ending to this particular story. Not much has changed over the past few months – my mind is still a mess. It would best be described as pieces of 10 different jigsaw puzzles mixed together in one card box. What has changed is that I’ve decided to show the same perseverance as I do with my drawing – lay down a piece by piece, hoping the bigger picture will start making sense. I’ve also decided not to care if, just like my drawings, nobody every looks at them.

Published in life

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