Ana Bianchi is the illustrator and author behind The Sailor Who Loved to Draw and The Swimmers: Paper Cut-Outs with Matisse. You can view her work on and Instagram.

How are you spending this time? Are you creating art “as usual,” or is there a variance to your routine?

I am not wasting time driving or running errands so I have been hunkered down (as we should) in my studio creating art, in the garden preparing the vegetable garden, in the kitchen cooking from scratch or with the family. It is good to get longer, uninterrupted periods of time to focus on the ideas I am exploring. I am using this time to work on several illustrations, trying new techniques and styles, text for another children’s book and finalizing my portfolio website.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you, and how are you handling it?

Not getting distracted by social media, creative partnerships and the food purchase/cook/don’t waste cycle. I really want to turn this into a time to concentrate and create.

What advice would you give to anyone struggling to create right now?

Move away from the TV and news cycle. Pick something you like: write about it, draw it. Don’t think about it too much. Or, make a list of things you always wanted to try and find a tutorial (macrame, anyone? felting? dyeing fabric? I will try that with avocado pits and oak galls I’ve collected). Or, join a challenge like #100daychallenge, or create a challenge (a drawing a day until we are let free, or take a photo of every dish you cook and turn it into a cookbook). I am usually never without ideas of things to do, for me it’s picking the one to do.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to optimize their space at home for a good work/play balance?

Separate with your watch. Set a number of hours to work, a number of hours to play/watch tv and a # of hours for health: cook, eat, shower, sleep. Stick with it. Change rooms for each one if possible.

Ana's home workspace
Ana’s home workspace

How can people support the arts community during this time?

Buy art & crafts, create projects for artists, follow and support artists, comment on their feeds, recommend artists to those who can commission projects.

What do you hope people take away from all this? Do you think the arts community will look different as we transition back to “normal”?

I am part of a few groups of illustrators around the world, everyone has been doing something with their art to help the community. Making art and telling stories is what we do and people that receive them appreciate them now more than other times. I hope this quiet magical thing artists and writers do becomes appreciated as the “other medicine” as life goes on.

We asked each artist to send a picture of whatever last made them smile – here’s Ana’s daughter working on her own illustrations.