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Pinoy artist in Netherlands sets up online sketch challenge amidst COVID-19 quarantine

ASSEN, The Netherlands - To provide inspiration to people stuck at home amid the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a Filipino artist based in the Netherlands has started a Facebook and Instagram challenge to sketch something in the house daily.

Jesamine Totanes-Wiersema began the "14-day quarantine sketch challenge" (hashtag #whatsindahouse) after the Netherlands declared what looks like a partial lockdown from March 16 to April 6 where schools, restaurants and other establishments are ordered closed while people are advised to stay and work from home, if possible. Flights coming in from other countries are also suspended.

Totates-Wiersema, who works at an art house, said she wants to at least uplift the spirit of people by providing an avenue for sketchers and for people who love looking at them.

'Housemate' sketch by Jesamine Totanes-Wiersema

“Naisip ko maganda sigurong gumawa ako ng challenge para sa mga taong mag-stay home. Fourteen days is too long for quarantine lalo na sa mga may mga bata pa. Para pang-distract ko from worries, gumawa ako ng 14-day quarantine challenge. So at least there is something to look forward to kahit sa bahay lang tayo,” Totanes-Wiersema explained.

(I thought perhaps I should create a challenge for those staying at home. Fourteen days is too long to be stuck at home, especially if you have kids with you. To distract people from worries, I created this 14-day quarantine challenge. At least there is something to look forward to even if we are at home.)

Sketching daily serves as a diary for Totanes-Wiersema. She posts her sketches on her Facebook and Instagram accounts @jvtotanes @jesamine_creates, as well as on pages she has created.

Every day, a theme is suggested: "Out of Bed," "Pile of Shoes," '"Food Sketching," "Sketching Housemate," "Urban Jungle Sketch," "Bar at Home," "Panic Buying"(first thing you’ll buy), "House Party" (messy place at home), "Thoughts of the Day," "Wash Your Worries Away," "Dinner Was Served," "What’s In Your Bag,’’ "Sketch Your Vehicles," and "The Aftermath," so sketchers will keep on drawing.

She said the idea is to find something inspirational in the house and sketch it.

“I know it’s safe to stay home during this all over coronavirus fears. One to two days you will love it. But what if it’s two weeks!? That’s a lot! I work less for the next couple of weeks because of this worldwide health fight. But then I realize this is the best time to appreciate what’s in the house! Join me with my sketch challenge for 14 days quarantine sketching. Sketch anything you see in the house. It could be your shoes, your pile of laundry, garden tools, your favorite food or lunch, and games anything! Ask your kids to join you, if they are staying at home. It will stimulate them to do less gaming and do more art. Let’s inspire each and everyone and keep the world still a better place. Good luck creative lovelies!” Totanes-Wiersema wrote on the challenge page.

So far, the #whatsindahouse challenge that Totanes-Wiersema created has gained popularity among sketchers who share their works almost daily.

“I’ve received private messages from strangers thanking me for coming up with this. I hope there will be more who’ll join, especially our fellow Filipinos,” said the freelance painter and illustrator.

To join the challenge, use #whatsindahouse to share your artwork on Instagram and Facebook.

A native of Butuan City in the Philippines, Totanes-Wieserma has lived in Assen, the Netherlands for five years. She started sketching when her father introduced her to painting and calligraphy 20 years ago. She said her family in the Philippines had limited means while growing up. She was not even allowed to draw on her notebooks because that was for school, so she harnessed her talent by just being "creative" or using anything to draw without cost.

She first came to the Netherlands as an au pair. During her free time, she pursued her hobby.

“I didn’t even realize that during this great adventure, I would be exposed to my passion, my dream. Art!!! In Europe art is everywhere, the cradle of famous masters like Vincent Van Gogh, Mondrian, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Dali, and Monet... My heart was hit with a blast of happiness. I then realized that....this is where I should be. This is me,” she narrated.

Check her work at jvtotanes.com.