Learning: The Best Thing for Sadness, Part II



Previously, I wrote about learning as a tool for managing the sadness accompanying home isolation and the losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wrote about my new studies of the natural world through nature journaling, and bird watching. With the entire West Coast suffering from historic wildfires, neither of these activities are now a healthy option. For the second time this year, I find myself homebound. Once again, I looked for something new to learn.

The air quality here in Portland, Oregon is so hazardous I’ve not ventured to my studio, which is in a very old building I suspect of dubious ventilation. Instead, I am teaching myself sumi-e ink painting at home. I researched brushes, and learned to make ink by grinding an ink stick on stone. I have not mastered the Four Gentlemen, and am still learning how much to dilute the ink for a variety of tones, but everyday I think I improve. The lighting in these photos is poor, lending itself to the smokey quality of our environment at this historic moment, so I include it.



  1. Sorry to hear about all the impediments you are facing with your art. However, I love the quote you cited in one of your past posts from TH White. And it’s great to see what you are doing to continue learning under the circumstances of the sequestering. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Thank you Marianna for your thoughtful words. What I didn’t write about in the post is my gratitude for having the luxury to make art during these chaotic times we’re living in. From the windows of my home, I look at the dense smoke, and grieve for the displaced who have lost their homes and businesses. I worry about those whose homes are the streets. How do they survive when what few resources available to them have shut down due to hazardous air? It’s crises like this that make clear there are few safety nets for the vulnerable of our society. As an artist and nurse, it breaks my heart.


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