Funny mouse doing yoga cartoon sketch by Joana Miranda

Wondering how to make your days pass by more pleasurably during this pandemic lock down? What about starting a sketchbook? It appears likely that we’ll be staying in a “holding pattern” for a while; so, even if you think you don’t know how to draw, you might surprise yourself and emerge a Picasso by the end of the pandemic! A sketchbook can be a fun way to record events, moods and feelings. Just Google “sketchbook inspiration” and you’re certain to get lots of fun ideas for where to start and what to draw. Because I love to cartoon people, my sketchbook inspiration for lock down days has been the passersby I see from our 4th floor window.

Sketchbook inspiration for lock down days…

And my work space – the dining room table – today.

Sketchbook inspiration for lock down days - working at our dining room table.

As you can see, I grabbed a handful of my favorite drawing supplies (in this case, watercolor pencils and water brush pen) and got to work.

In the process, I had to be extra inventive, too…

Since my black colored pencil is getting quite short and stubby. I could order more black colored pencils, but with little money coming in right now, I’m loathe to spend unless it’s really a necessity. Take a look below for my solution to the problem (at least for now!)

Extend the life of your colored pencils with this clever hack:

Clever hack for extending the life of a stubby colored pencil

As you can see, I used wood glue to glue the stubby black colored pencil (right side) to an almost as stubby 2B graphite pencil (left side). This will allow me to continue to sharpen the black colored pencil almost to its very end. Plus, it’s a lot more comfortable to hold as well.


The time spent looking out the window and sketching made the afternoon fly by. All of my people sketches were, in fact, folks I saw passing by on the street. Fortunately, we don’t have any mice in our apartment so I let my imagination run for this sketch:

Mouse yoga cartoon illustration by Joana Miranda

Meanwhile, the High Five kitty sketch is a direct inspiration from this adorable creature.

Sketchbook inspiration for lock down days - Siamese cat cartoon sketch by Joana Miranda

(Thanks to video calling, I get to see him every day.)

And here are the rest of the sketches:

Stay safe and be well!


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    • Joana says:

      Thank you, my dear! Or, should I say…Na-mouse-day?

      How are you doing? I am really restricting myself now on the news consumption. It’s so easy to get super anxious since we’re pretty much in the center of the current hot spot now. Sigh.

      Off to get some Zzzzs now so I can tackle the day afresh tomorrow.

      xox – Joana

  1. Jennifer Farquhar Greenlee says:

    What a great way to extend the life of a pencil!

    • Joana says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I confess that I didn’t come up with that idea myself (I happened to stumble upon it on a site about colored pencils). Fortunately, we have wood glue in the apartment since my husband used to do a lot of woodworking back when we lived in Milwaukee.:-)

      How are you holding up? What is the status of the Indianapolis Symphony concerts for now? Are you guys also on “lock down”?

      xox – Joana

      • Jennifer Farquhar Greenlee says:

        We are out through most of May—not sure if tomorrow will be my last paycheck. We’ve been pretty isolated except for 2 nurses who help care for Grace and occasional cautious trips to get meds and food. Scary times. Stay safe!

        • Joana says:

          Hi Jennifer,

          This was supposed to be the “lull” period in my freelancing (between ballet seasons) so I’m sort of lucky with the timing of our lock down so far. That said, if the lock down continues for months, I know that I, and all of my fellow freelancers, will be hard hit.

          Today’s news, though dire, does offer glimmers of hope regarding possible immunity for those who have recovered from the virus and the chances of harvesting plasma to help others.

          I hope that you will be able to return to work in May, and that we’ll all come out of this healthy and stronger.

          Lots of love,

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