Beauty in the Chaos

If you are the parent of a college student, you know the routine of moving them in the dorm, then home for breaks, then out for the end of the year. Despite a trip taking a bunch of stuff back to the house a few weeks before move-out, we packed and squeezed and stuffed all her junk into our SUV on Saturday and made the four-hour trip back home. I’m sure the car was silently muttering expletives at us as it was packed to the gills with just a seat in the back for her. Engorged like it had just eaten a full meal and then some, it tackled the miles like a champion and landed us safely at home.

Then came the fun part (not). Unloading. Piles in our laundry room, all over the countertops, bagsandboxesandclothesandfoodandcoatsandpillowsandsheetsandsuitcasesand….. you get the picture. It was not a pretty sight. We were too exhausted to deal with it that night, so it was waiting for me on Mother’s day. I could barely find the floor, the dog had trouble finding her water bowl, and I looked reflectively upon the heap of chaos. As my daughter was snoozing away all morning, I set up my sketch stool and got out my supplies. The chaos was beautiful. Bright blue IKEA bags, the chrome and metal of the washer, fuzzy pink blanket, zippers…. what’s there not to like??

I chose a “fish-bowl” perspective to sketch, which I have never tried before. It’s where you curve the lines toward the vanishing points on either side, so it looks distorted. One can use this technique when you have a lot to pack in a sketch, this bending allows it all to fit in.

You can see the eye-ball shaped pencil lines I had in the sketch before I started. I chose to add my hand and knees in at the bottom of the sketch.

I chose to not color everything, I wanted the mess to stand out. I used Pitt pens, watercolors, and Gelly Roll white pen for accents. This was a super-fun exercise, and eventually when my daughter got up, we cleared out the mess and I have a great memory in my sketch of our Mother’s day morning 2021!


  1. Ahhh! This is great! The chaos brings back memories of college days for my boys. And I love that instead of stressing about the mess, you sat down and transformed it into something beautiful with your sketch.

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