Sketch of Rumors of War sculpture by Meera Rao in brush pen.
In March of 2021 when it was a year since sheltering at home, I finally hit upon an use for the Smithsonian 2020 engagement calendar that had stayed empty. When I stumbled upon it earlier in January during a cleaning spree, it felt environmentally and morally irresponsible to discard a book unopened and unused. I decided to look back through my notes and camera roll and sketch something for each week to record the passing of the (First?)Year of Covid. I have other sketches and paintings that I had done throughout the year but this was going to be different- even though I was not exactly sure how ! I was excited to have my sketches live side by side with the glossy beautiful art from the Smithsonian collection!
Week 2 Jan 5-11, 2020
I started with week 2. When I tested watercolor on a page in the very back of the book, paper felt like Yupo slick but not as sturdy, color pencils just slid off, pen and ink showed thru. I should have tried acrylics - but I did not have anything decent and did not want to invest in one. I was going to wing it:) Ultimately, I used black, sepia or color pens, color pencils and watercolors - ironing to flatten out buckled pages. I shied away from fine or detailed work and kept experimenting throughout!! I now have a ‘sketchbook journal’ that sort of documents my unforgettable pandemic year 2020. Looking back now I discovered that I spent much of the year watching nature in our backyard, FaceTiming grand kids and connecting with rest of the world on and off via Zoom!
The year started with lots of promise - a trip to DC to see grandkids. On Jan 8 2020, we stopped in Richmond on our way to DC to see the recently installed sculpture ‘Rumors of War’ by Kahinde Wiley. It is a beautiful and powerful sculpture rivaling the Monument Ave offerings. Little did I know then that the other Monument Avenue sculptures of the confederate notables would be down in a few months !!
Week 1 thru Jan 4 2020
Winter Camellia by Meera Rao in watercolor and ink
Every year the Camillia tree in the backyard puts on a brilliant display of red flowers giving us a ‘Christmas tree’ decorated by nature ! On Jan 1 2020 the tree was especially full with blooms. I had taken a photo of a bloom to include in the new year’s greetings I sent via social media, texts and email :)
Cover of the Smithsonian Engagement Calendar 2020