Pandemic Traces

By Jane Sherrill | March 14, 2021

These drawings were made during this past year of the COVID-19 pandemic, from March 2020 to March 2021.

I think of myself as a landscape painter—I’ve been painting land/seascapes for more than ten years. When the stay-at-home orders began, I knew I wouldn’t be getting into my studio often. I grabbed some simple supplies so I could work at home. These included a pad of translucent Dura-lar (plastic paper), black drawing pens, pencils and erasers. Initially, my goal was to explore a new way of working—without the rich palette I normally use. But that didn’t last long; I couldn’t resist picking up the one colored pencil I could find in my house. After the first tracing, I set the purple pencil aside and became comfortable working in the world of black and white.


Jane Sherrill, Tracing Home, pen, colored pencil on layers of translucent Dura-lar, approximately 10.5” X 12.25” 2020


I began by tracing patterns wherever I could find them—the floors of my apartment, dings/scratches/discolorations on my old wooden table, shadows and bits of text from letters I received, my to-do list.  I pile up the layers of Dura-lar as I go, tracing marks from bottom layers onto top layers so the final drawings are rich with markings and appear 3D. If a drawing doesn’t work, I add it as a layer to another drawing and see what happens. In the finished pieces you can see through the translucent layers to the marks below which often appear shadow-like.

Jane Sherrill, Progression 4…pen, pencils, erasers on layers of translucent Dura-lar, approximately 9” X 14.5”, 2020


Jane Sherrill, Reading Matter, pen, pencils, erasers on layers of translucent Dura-lar, 9”x 12.5” 2020


Jane Sherrill, Needing Peace, pen, pencils, erasers on layers of translucent Dura-lar, 11.5” x 9.25” 2021


These next two drawings were made as part of the Marking Lives COVID-19 project.


Jane Sherrill, 5, pen, pencil, eraser, paper towel on layers of translucent Dura-lar, approximately 9” x 9” 2021


Jane Sherrill, Wash Away, pen, pencils, erasers on layers of translucent Dura-lar, 12” x 9” 2021


Copyright © 2021 Jane Sherrill


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  1. Elizabeth Awalt on March 15, 2021 at 10:42 am

    I’ve been following Jane’s posts on Instagram this year and have been impressed with the risks she is taking in these drawings. This year has pushed many artists to work differently as many are working at home and not their studio and because it seems impossible to continue making the work that we always have. Jane also added a couple of beautiful pieces to my project #markinglivescovid19, which I am very grateful for.

    • Jane Sherrill on March 15, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks Liz! It’s so nice for me to hear from another artist that the risk-taking in my work is being seen! There’s so much fun in that—pushing the work and seeing how far you can take it… then to have it stick!

      BTW…I LOVE your #markinglivescovid19 project!

  2. AnnaLee Wilson on March 18, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    I find these new drawings by Jane Sherrill to be an exciting new development that stems from her beautiful landscapes and nature paintings. The drawings exhibited here are rich in layered texture and movement. They have a lyrical quality to them. I especially love the energy in her latest drawing—”Wash Away” where Sherrill creates her imagery by the marks she makes as well as by what she erases.

    • Jane Sherrill on March 18, 2021 at 5:23 pm

      Thanks AnnaLee. I appreciate your comment. I like hearing that you see these new drawings as an outgrowth of my paintings—well that’s great! As for the energy in “Wash Away…” in making the drawing I was reminded of a dream I had years ago in which I was walking in a lovely warm rain. The area was covered in long bright green sea grasses that were softly waving in the rain.

  3. Kay Canavino has on March 19, 2021 at 10:10 pm

    What a fun process that looks so rich.

    • Jane Sherrill on March 20, 2021 at 12:57 am

      Yes it is a lot of fun! Once you begin you can keep going and going and going… Nice to hear from you Kay!

  4. Becky Kenney on April 17, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    I love progression 4 and Wash Away. You could get lost in them except you can’t get in I guess because it’s a dream thicket.

    • Jane Sherrill on April 18, 2021 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Becky! It took me awhile to understand what you meant by “dream thicket.” Then I remembered I’d written above about “Wash Away” reminding me of a wonderful dream of waving green grasses… aha! I really appreciate your wanting to get lost in these drawings. That’s a big part of what I am aiming for!

  5. Adele Travisano on April 23, 2022 at 8:55 am

    Jane, thanks very much for posting these beautiful drawings, at the same time so rich and fresh and at the same time, timeless. I am so comfortable looking at them. It’s as if I’ve seem them before, been there before. They feed the soul the way that being in the woods can. Deeply felt. You lost yourself in them enabling us to do the same.

    • Jane Sherrill on April 23, 2022 at 11:47 pm

      Adele… What a lovely comment, thank you!! And to compare them with being in the woods? Well that is a terrific compliment! I really appreciate it! Sometime you will have to come see them. They’ll be hanging in my studio next weekend during SOS (April 30–May 1, 2022 if you want to see them in person. I may not be able to get to the studio on April 30 so you’re more likely to catch me next Sunday.

      Thanks again for the lovely comment!

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