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This Bubble Life, as Drawn by Tyee Readers

We asked you to submit art depicting your reality today, and you delivered. Step into the gallery.

Dorothy Woodend and Christopher Cheung 11 Dec

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor for The Tyee.
Christopher Cheung reports on urban issues for The Tyee.

Thank you, Tyee readers! Last month we asked you to submit portraits of the people, pets and other things in your bubbles, and boy did you deliver.

It was a veritable explosion of creativity, everything from subtle and sensitive renderings to hilarious images of what the most recent shutdown has wrought on mind and body. Cats, dogs, family members, booze, toothbrushes and surrounding environs all made a good showing — even a trip to the COVID-19 testing centre.

Many thanks to everyone who participated. We were positively giddy seeing all of the idiosyncratic and deeply individual ways that people interpreted this idea. Some were unbelievably beautiful, others mordantly funny. All were acts of generosity and kindness, and we thank you for the opportunity to share your work.

Consider the following selection an early Christmas present, and if it inspires you and other Tyee readers to greater acts of creativity and drawing splendiferousness, all the better.

Without further ado, feast your eyes on these lovelies.

Barbara Livingston

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Mona Lily, Lily and Griffin, Mona Pug.

Tamara Lee

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“Melanie, a model that I drew in my evening figure drawing class at AUArts [Alberta University of the Arts]. Well, actually, I drew her before lockdown — but after three months of lockdown, I added a COVID-19 surgical mask and a collage of my photos taken during Calgary’s Black Lives Matter protests (where I shot my pics from the very edges of the crowd with a long, long lens!).”

Christine Hagemoen

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“My portrait is called Just another Saturday night during the pandemic. I sketched a portrait of myself wearing my cat-eye glasses for fun and then had the idea of updating one of my collages with my portrait (and a few other essentials of the pandemic). My collages are inspired by the collage work of the English artist Richard Hamilton.

“It represents how I cope with the stress of the pandemic when I am in the solo bubble of my home — basically through fantasy/escapism and avoidance. I will often escape by cranking the music (using earphones), dancing either solo or with an imaginary partner, and partaking in a drink or two. Needless to say, Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing with Myself’ has taken on new meaning for me.

“Of course, my figure in the portrait is pure fantasy and does not represent my reality. Nor does the spacious living room represent the reality of my 380-square-foot apartment, but it allows me to escape the restrictions of my confinement, if only representationally.

“Finally, I also find I am easily distracted from the work I’m supposed to be doing by going off on tangents (like creating a bubble portrait for The Tyee). Though I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise!”

Andrea Bennett


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“The cat pose Mackerel is making in this pic will be familiar to anyone who has a food-oriented cat. She’s looking at some (unpictured) cheese I was grating on the counter above her.”

Audrey Silver

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“This is Beans. We go for walks in the neighbourhood and he makes lots of people smile.”

Raymond Nakamura

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“This is our dog Cookie chilling on the carpet.”

Diane Jasinski

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“Another late-night reading session on my NOOK. Midnight reading to quiet the mind.”

Tyeester Em Cooper by Tyeester Sarah Krichel

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Tyeester Sarah Krichel by Tyeester Em Cooper

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Cynthia Nugent

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“I live alone but belong to the Vancouver Urban Sketchers. We met on Zoom for Halloween and drew each other’s portraits. I decided to not use pencil but just jump in with painting directly with gouache. Midori, our host, is wearing her pumpkin costume.”


“I have been loosely keeping a visual diary of what is going on in my life during this pandemic (but then, I always draw).

“Watching Shakespeare plays on the National Theatre YouTube channel that were only released during the pandemic and realizing how some of the lines relate to our times.

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“Attempting to write a collaborative story by taking turns with several friends, which quickly got confusing, so the story with its main character was abandoned. But I had fun imagining ‘Helen.’”

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“My supply of hydroxychloroquine that I have been taking daily for five years, for a chronic health condition. This drug was suddenly all over the news because Trump hyped it up, making me concerned that I would no longer be able to get my prescription (luckily there was no shortage of it here in B.C.).”

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“Social distancing in the front yard in the spring/summer: I noticed that neighbours and friends are now more likely to be in front of their homes so they can socialize safely with visitors and passersby.”

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“Making music, however badly, on my piano and my ukulele was helpful to take my mind off the pandemic in its early days.”

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“In the spring, I distanced from my parents (91 and 90 years old) for about six weeks until it was OK to get together again. I had to draw the picture of them waving at me from their apartment door from memory.”

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“The COVID-19 testing station at Heather and 33rd Avenue back in May — I sat high on a grassy area and sketched with a friend at a distance, and met Special Constable Owens :) Back when caseloads were low...”

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Keiko Honda

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“My 15-year-old daughter, deep in thought.”

Sophie Hoye Pacholek

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“This is Tallulah, our rescue pup,” writes Holly, Sophie’s mother. “My teen captured her here in charcoal. Tallulah has been a constant and gentle companion to our family during the pandemic. We especially appreciate that she gently nudges us to go out for a walk.”

Marianne Pengelly

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“This is based on a happy health-care worker’s face from a newsletter I receive. By the time I finished drawing it, I felt the reality of fear and apprehension the health-care worker was feeling shone through under the layers of masks.”


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“I felt the need to draw the feelings I have for those on the frontline.... Normally (over the last 4-5 years) I paint in acrylics but often return to drawing as these are necessary skills and I have always done this since childhood.”

Kaaren Soby

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“This is a portrait done with black paint and charcoal on watercolour paper (the head), garbage bag smeared with black paint and then print of the torso made by laying the plastic against another sheet of watercolour paper and pressing my torso onto the unpainted side of the bag to make a print of the highlighted convex portions of the torso, and finally the final piece of watercolour paper on which the legs and feet were drawn onto it looking at the feet and legs from either top down or bottom up.... No mirror, no photo to copy... just feeling the bone structure and nerve memory!... Great fun.”


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John Douglas Tiller

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Edward Beggs

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“I was really, really bored the other night and decided to doodle on some scrap paper and out came a sort of version of a BMW R80 G/S crossed with a Yamaha TW250. I missed riding my old BMW this summer, when the transmission packed it in and parts were forever coming.”

Pat Donovan

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M.D. Maisey

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“I have had a hankering to do some sketching for a while and the COVID-19 situation seemed like an ideal opportunity to teach myself. This is my fourth attempt over the past three weeks or so at a self-portrait. Here it is, for what it’s worth!”


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“My friend and colleague, Cory Doctorow, as seen during a live Zoom broadcast of the Canadian awards for science fiction and fantasy writing.”

Taylor McClement

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“I drew a portrait of myself. I had to move back home with my parents due to the pandemic, and as a 20-year-old who wants their independence, it kind of sucks. I’m sure it sucks for my parents too. Anyways, sharing a house with three people (my mom, my dad, and my 22-year-old brother) for the first time since high school means my bathroom time has once again become very important to me. I’ve really come to appreciate my bathing and hygiene rituals, because they offer me some quiet and meditative privacy. Spending more time looking at myself in the mirror though, whether it’s brushing my teeth or picking at my skin, has made me realize that I’m actually pretty gross up close. So I have a love-hate relationship with my bathroom mirror. That’s kind of what I was trying to show with my portrait.”

Joe Tucker

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“Here’s a sketch I did of my girlfriend watching TV the other day. Our pandemic lives have us working opposite schedules a lot of the time, so we often can only see each other in mismatched states of sleepiness. This was one of those moments, she was ready to sleep and I was feeling creative.”

Ian Young

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“Real-time Sharpie self-portrait of me covering the Meng Wanzhou extradition hearing remotely from my desk, wearing what may or may not be a dressing gown,” writes the South China Morning Post’s Vancouver correspondent.

Gratianne Daum

“I am not overly social so I am only impacted mildly by the COVID restrictions. I just hope everyday all my family in Europe (I am alone here) stays safe. But when the first restrictions on accessing nature came into effect, I started feeling very anxious. I am so thankful I was still able to get to the trails every day. And see all ‘my’ familiar faces bringing me comfort: the trees, the wild flowers, the birds, the chipmunks, all these nature bonanza and life gifts found in our backyard.

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“Here is a poem I shared on my Instagram on that feeling of fearing to be separated from nature and in particular for me, mountains:

To those who’ve never felt this ache,
The violence of the void left by the passion that was taken away
Spare us the added pain
Spare us the useless comment

For the soul that is already confined year-round
Submerged by endless dark clouds
Soul’s peace
Can only be found in the mountains
Only big skies and empty places
Can bring their solace

To catch the wind
To listen to the silence
All the presence of the absence
Letting go of the time
Crying, only because of so much loving beauty.

To be able to breathe
To stop suffocating
To be isolated where I belong
In the big skies and wide spaces.”

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