Art in the Time of Quarantine

Justine Greenfield sketch

Why do I draw? There isn’t one specific answer, it’s just what I’ve always done. When I was young, my mother would carry pencils and paper around for me instead of games and toys so I could draw whenever I felt the urge. This same feeling still inspires me to draw today (although nowadays I carry my own pencils and paper).

It will start with a mental image or particular emotion that suddenly puts me in a creative mood. I take out my Do Good Paper Co. sketchbook and draw away, trying to recreate on paper what I see in my imagination. Sometimes I get it right the first time. Other times, I fill a few waste paper baskets along the way.

There are days when I’m not even sure what I want to draw. It’s fun to make up the rules as you go along and see what happens. I will often turn to others for ideas, which is entertaining because some suggestions can be pretty challenging.

I also draw to observe and record the places around me. Especially when I’m travelling, I always bring my sketchbook. Sitting at a café or a bar, I’ll draw the customers, their pets, a corner of the room or a view from the window. These drawings speak louder to me when I look back at them than photos. For example, one page of sketches I drew in Sydney (full of umbrellas and coffee mugs) stands out because it vividly reminds me of how cold and rainy it was that day. I think it’s because I’m really present in the moment when I sketch.

Today, during this COVID-19 lockdown, my travelling consists mainly of going from the fridge to the sofa multiple (probably too many) times a day. If I want to draw what’s in front of me now, I’m limited to what I can see from my couch. Not as exciting maybe, but I remind myself that many of my favourite artists were simply painting scenes from their apartments or their own backyards. It turns out art isn’t so much about being somewhere fancy, but about how you see the spaces and objects around you.

These are just some of the reasons I draw. If sketching has taught me anything, it’s that there is no single way to be creative. Along the way, you discover some tricks and techniques that work, and others that don’t. You can find inspiration in all sorts of different places and situations, from the world around you to what’s purely in your imagination. And over time you develop your own personal style as well as more and more reasons to sketch. And I think that’s what’s so great about drawing: there is no right way or wrong way, the journey is the whole point, and anybody can do it!

-- Written by Justine Greenfield



Justine is an illustrator and oil painter. She studied Art History and though it still fascinates her, discovered she would rather create art than study it, so she went to OCADU and graduated with a degree in Illustration. Drawn to subject matter that makes you chuckle or think (or both!), she loves to create illustrations suffused with a bit of mystery and fun. Her own childhood, which she spent playing in the fields and woods around her home in rural Ontario, serve as one of the main inspirations for her illustrations. Find her work on her website at or on Instagram.

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