|4th Ave. NE and NE 85th St., Maple Leaf neighborhood, facing south|
As I’m sure every other urban sketcher has found, sheltering at home is frustrating. Being outdoors for exercise and fresh air is approved of and even encouraged, so we’ve been walking daily around the neighborhood. That’s a pleasure in itself – we are discovering beautiful houses and gardens we otherwise never would have noticed – but I can’t stop for a sketch the way I easily could in my pre-pandemic life. The sidewalks are narrow in Maple Leaf, so if a pedestrian came by, I would need to step into the street to allow them space.
Nonetheless, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I realized I could stand on a traffic circle to sketch and easily stay farther than 6 feet from any passing pedestrian, and I’m also safe from cars. I made these four sketches from the same traffic circle over the course of a month at about the same time of day.
My world has gotten very small. Except for four sketches I made from my car, this intersection a few blocks from home is the farthest I’ve traveled for a sketch in two months. Staying close to home requires more work; it’s not as easy to find a composition that grabs me. On the other hand, when my expectations and standards are low, the shimmer of sunlight on a slender maple is enough to keep me happy. The joy of “showing the world, one drawing at a time” is the same, even when the world is a four-block radius.