Too much caffeine on Court Street

How Caffeine Can Unintentionally Affect Your Art

The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it’s with you all the time.

-Alvin Ailey

I like this quote because it emphasizes the creative process rather than the finished product. I haven’t been completely in love with my finished products lately and it might just be too much coffee. Yesterday, I struggled a bit to find a way to be in the zone to create any doodles worth posting. As many of my blog readers know, caffeine plays a huge roll in my process. I like to find a decent café and a good, strong napkin to doodle my creative energy away.

However, my usual place to draw has become packed with people. What the heck?!?!

I figured that I would have to start branching out to other neighborhoods again in order to find the right creative vibe. Here’s what I managed to create very quickly at the old local diner until a line of customers gave me the stink eye because they clearly wanted my booth:

Braided Lady, drawn and left at Megabites Diner in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn
Braided Lady, drawn and left at Megabites Diner in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn

Dealing with Gentrified Prices for Scrambled Eggs

Usually, I dig the vibe at Megabites Diner and they let me stay a while to casually drink my tea or coffee while I draw. That was before a line of patrons have begun to form at the door to the front of the building. It could be that the college crowd has returned to the neighborhood early. Maybe it was the Brooklyn Flea crowd or the Ft. Greene Farmer’s Market people. I have another theory.

The truth is, the Fort Greene neighborhood has attracted a brunch crowd and the local restaurants have increased their prices. After the novelty wears off for the locals, many people really don’t want to spend $12 on some scrambled eggs just because they want to enjoy the general splendor of the restaurant’s atmosphere. That’s why I think more and more people are headed to Megabites Diner where the prices have remained reasonable on a block through which tour buses have begun to make the rounds. I decided to take a bit of a walk down DeKalb Ave. toward Fulton Mall (and beyond) after breakfast to Ft. Greene’s neighboring communities.

Brownstown Coffee

Court Street Coffee

Somewhere between Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights is a very long street called Court Street. I think it’s considered Boerum Hill. I dig the area for it’s vast number of bookstores, cafes, pubs, independently owned shops, and people/dog watching. Due to the rain, I ran into a local Barnes & Noble bookstore where I ordered my Doodle Revolution book by Sunni Brown and drank a bit of tea in their café. I took a few napkins and drew this:

Scary scribble portrait

So, yeah. This one’s eyes are bugging out and proportionally it’s all out of whack. Maybe it was due to the rain. Maybe it was the additional caffeine. Whatever it was, I wasn’t in the right zone for doodling. I was trying to force it, I think. I hadn’t drawn on the regular in a while. I rushed. Maybe I was stressed and now all my freaking portraits looked like George Bush on the day he told the American people that the economy was about to tank. It stopped raining and it was time to move along through Court Street.

Coffee-induced Bookstore Rampage

I am not sure why books and caffeine tend to find each other; One relaxes me and the other does not. However, I was on a hyper roll with the bookstore thing and had a really massive coffee high now so I decided to go into The Community Bookstore which is owned by a laid back French man who has stacks of used books that are pretty cheap. Most people have to squeeze around each other to get through it. It feels like you’re playing Twister with strangers with the threat of books falling over at every turn. Great place for serendipitous finds though! With my caffeine high, I knocked book stacks onto the floor several times before I called it quits and sat on a bench outside to doodle on a napkin in front of a Blue Marble Ice Cream store.

I will never be Frank Stella.

Too much caffeine on Court Street
Too much caffeine on Court Street

It still feels off. I mean, a doodle doesn’t have to look amazing but I wasn’t achieving that quality zen-like focus like I do when I’m in a good zone.

Too much frenetic energy gave my little doodle a nonobjective abstract look. It looked like it was trying to be inspired by the artist, Frank Stella but all the shakiness of the caffeine just got in the way. For more on this fellow New York artist, click HERE. He’s a pretty interesting guy and Wikipedia rumors claim that he’s still living and working in New York City.

There’s even a great 10 minute video on Frank Stella here:

So the moral of today’s blog post is, switch to herbal tea and try to find your inner Frank Stella. Hope you enjoy the rest of this weekend.

Doodles and decaf,

Mary

Sketchbook and Bittersweet Doodle 005

Overcoming Artistic Blocks

Something about making art has to do with overcoming things, giving us a clear opportunity for doing things in ways we have always known we should do them.

-David Bayles, coauthor of Art & Fear

Frog Sketch

Good Morning, All!

Feeling Blocked

Sleeping late on a Friday is the biggest luxury on the planet, in my humble opinion. Woke up to some fresh Italian Roast coffee and opened my sketch book. I drew a blank. Had no idea where to begin. I have been so immersed in my Photography class this month that I feel like I forgot how to simply put a marker onto paper. I remember something my 2D design professor said about some artists feeling overwhelmed by the blank page or canvas. He mentioned how one artist would throw charcoal dust over his paper and then “draw” with an erasure in order to get started. So, I decided to not think about it too much and just draw a few lines. A half an hour later, a frog appeared.

The Importance of Scribbling and Unfinished Works

Every now and then though, I don’t have patience to sit for a half an hour to draw so I’ll end up with something like this…

Quick doodle

It’s basically scribbling but I encourage you to get it out of your system so you get used to just the process of just starting. Not every line needs to be perfectly rendered. I created that one at Megabites last Sunday and even attempted a new doodle but never finished it.

Unfinished Doodle

How to Handle the Unfinished

The act of simply doing means you are still actively engaged in creating but maybe you are simply brainstorming. I have a tendency to leave my doodles behind but it’s good practice to hold onto all sketches, even the ones that disappoint you because it might evolve into something else that you haven’t considered.

 To Keep or Not to Keep ‘Bad Art’

I remember sketching outside with an earnest attempt to capture the essence of a pigeon but I lacked some of the skills to really do it any justice. When I was younger, I would never dream of letting anyone see it but as I got older, I found a certain charm to it’s unique renderings. While I’m a fan of skill involved in realistic renderings of still lives (or in my case, not so still life), there’s something to be said about the “bad art”. The Dadists would have loved “bad art.” One of my older sisters has her Master’s in Fine Arts and she was a big believer in having Bad Art Days. We would try a new artistic medium without any expectation of knowing what we were doing. By calling it a Bad Art Day, we got rid of any fear or expectation of doing anything ingenious and sometimes our artwork would surprise us. So, in honor of all the “Bad Art” out there, here is my poorly drawn pigeon.

My version of a Pigeon
My version of a Pigeon

 

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

-Pablo Picasso

Books Dealing with Artist’s Block

  • If you ever feel like you’ve felt blocked as an artist and couldn’t create anything, there is a great book called Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland which I can highly recommend. If you’d like to read a review on it, Click HERE!
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has always been my go to book to help me find my artistic direction, no matter how quirky. More on her HERE!

Now go get some art supplies you’ve been meaning to try and go play!

Cheers!

Mary

Planting Fields Arboretum

Flower Vine Sketch

This is the first week that I have fallen behind in my napkin doodling. My summer Photography class has monopolized a lot of my time. In fact, this sketch is inspired by one of my class’ trips to the Planting Fields Arboretum located in Oyster Bay, New York. We had to take some abstract photos of the flowers and plant life there. If you are ever on Long Island, it’s worth finding your way over there. Click HERE for more details on getting there.

My class will be over in a couple of weeks so there are a lot of projects due. I will certainly make time for some tea and coffee now and then. I will stock up on some markers.

The year of napkin doodling around Brooklyn shall continue! .

(Although, I may have to consider a photography blog)

Peace and Doodles!

Mary

 

 

 

Empress Doodle mid-July 2014 006

The Empress

The Empress, drawn at Megabites.
The Empress, drawn at Megabites.

At Megabites for the Usual

Back to the familiar diner routine and napkin doodling!

Yesterday, I felt the need to veg out on the couch in my PJs, read a book and some blogs, drink hot chocolate and do absolutely nothing related to art. That’s not entirely true though. When I accidentally woke up at 4:30am and saw how the light was in my apartment, I started to take abstract photos for my next photography assignment. Then, I went back to sleep and vegged.

I think downtime is important though. Today, after my usual Earl Grey tea and breakfast at Megabites, I took a stroll to the Brooklyn Flea Market on Lafayette Avenue. It has become a popular destination for foodies (plenty of artisan food stands), antique collectors, and clever things made by local New York artists. For me, it was a great place to get inspiration for interesting abstract photography shots.

So, if you are ever in the Downtown Brooklyn area (5-10 minute walk from Atlantic Terminal), go check it out. Click HERE for more info on it.

Enjoy your Saturday strolls and don’t forget your sharpies!

~MKF~

The Brooklyn Doodle

Sketchbook and Bittersweet Doodle 019

Bittersweet Doodles

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

-William Shakespeare

From My Sketchbook: Palm Reading
From My Sketchbook: Palm Reading

Looked through my old sketchbooks and remember playing around with pencil sketches on the regular. So much has changed since then and it makes me wonder what my future holds. Hopefully, I’ll have a hand in directing the course of my future towards my own artistic goals.

Drew these birds at Jones Beach State Park. My dad, with his Brooklyn accent, would call these, Da Byoids!
Drew these birds at Jones Beach State Park. My dad, with his Brooklyn accent, would call these, Da Byoids!

Switching Mediums

It’s funny how switching mediums can completely change your style of drawing. I’m more inclined to using Sharpies now so no more drawing with an erasure or a blending tool. This summer, my medium has switched again to photography. I capture my subject in so many different positions and angles. I ‘paint’ with light.

And yet, today I discovered that maybe my style is somewhat consistent during my critique in my Photography class. I seem to go for drastic contrasting colors. At least, that’s what I realized when my work was placed up against all the others. Most people went for subtlety. Maybe I watch too many old black and white films or something.

Emptying My Head for New Projects

So much effort went into displaying 3 black and white photos out of nearly 200 taken at different locations, different times, and different natural lighting for my critique today. I spent so much time at the Photography Lab classroom this week working on a number of the pieces on Lightroom 5 that I started having dreams about lighting and paper. The assignment was to take photos of paper interacting with light. Now that it’s over, I have a new photography assignment but I have to empty my head of the last one. Time to grab coffee and create a napkin doodle. Found my moment of zen at a local café this hot afternoon.

Bittersweet Café

The one long bench and table in Bittersweet Cafe
The one long bench and table in Bittersweet Café

Early in the morning and especially on the weekends, there are lines out the door for the incredible coffee and pastries in this small cafe. The thing that makes this place noteworthy are the dog treats that are sold up at the front register and dog dishes full of water waiting outside for their canine patrons. There are a ton of dog owners in the Ft. Greene, Brooklyn neighborhood so you’re likely to find 15 dogs parked outside Bittersweet awaiting their owners’ return with an expectant stare toward this establishment. It’s always fun to pass by them!

Luckily, I arrived around 4pm (they close at 5pm) and it was pretty empty for a change. Got myself an iced mocha and popped a squat on one of the stools around the one empty communal table. Here’s what I drew today…

Tree Headed Girl drawn at Bittersweet Cafe
Tree Headed Girl drawn at Bittersweet Café

This doodle of a concerned girl with what appears to be a tree growing out of her head reminds me of a Japanese Animation Short called Mount Head directed by Koji Yamamura.

*Spoiler Alert*

The main character accidentally swallows a cherry pit from some cherries he ate. A cherry tree proceeds to grow out of the top of his head. The short 10 minute film shows how he deals with it. Worthy of your 10 minutes to watch it.

My second doodling meditation as I cleared my own head of the seeds of knowledge planted there…

Zentangle inspired Turtle
Zentangle inspired Turtle

A nice slow zentangle inspired turtle!

A good reminder to slow down! Hoping to clear my head so I can fill it with another Photography assignment this weekend. More than likely, I will be doodling quite a bit to ground myself before moving forward. Until then…

Go forth and doodle on,

Mary

Megabites Stoop Doodles and Greenwood 039

Beat Tired, But Still Creating!

Created at Café Dada in Park Slope
Created at Café Dada in Park Slope

I am beat tired.

However, I drew a lot this weekend so I’m going to tell you my story and post my doodles intermittently. I drew on stoops, diners, cafes, at a BBQ, and at Prospect Park because I’m in this weird creativity zone these days. Above this paragraph is a drawing that I created at Café Dada in Park Slope off of 7th Avenue. Best oatmeal ever and the place is covered with artwork. It was worth the bike ride over there (see my trusty bike in the background below). And of course, continued my meditation drawing education in Zentangle design while hanging out on my beloved stoop.

Zentangle doodle created on my stoop.
Zentangle doodle created on my stoop.

Ok, admittedly, the stoop was not entirely wonderful yesterday. One of the tenants moved out and left 12 stinky bags of garbage near our stoop for 3 days in this hot, hot summer. Flies were feasting and dumpster divers would come by and search through them. All I can say is, thank God the garbage men arrived this morning. I tried to sit high on the stoop away from the stink but even in my zen like state of doodling, I found it distracting. So, I gave Prospect Park a chance instead and tried my hand at zentangle again. Peace was achieved with ease. ::sigh::

Zentangle created at Prospect Park.
Zentangle created at Prospect Park.

Finding a Zen-like peace was a bit exhausting when you live in Brooklyn during the summer months. It was time to head out to Long Island where the air is a bit gentler and beaches are plentiful. Besides, I had a mission.

This weekend, I was given a project to do for my Photography class. I had to take 100 photos of natural light interacting with paper. I was really excited about it since I keep taking photos of my napkin drawings anyway. I figured, I got this!

::facepalm::

I started by driving directly to Fire Island lighthouse from my class to utilize the light under the boardwalk and see if I could get some interesting photos of it by the water. It was over 90 degrees outside so I ended up with the worst sunburn known to man.

ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN, PEOPLE!

I gave up on the beach and headed to one of my sisters’ houses to take photos of some paper in her pool. It was going great until I knocked into my camera bag and out rolled my 75mm lens, ahem, sorry, my boyfriend’s lens! I jumped into the pool with all my nice clothes on in order to try to “rescue” it but I was too late. The lens was ruined and I was soaking wet. It was a very expensive mistake (a new lens was bought) but at least I got some decent photos.

Here’s a napkin doodle that I created while I was at my sister’s house when she started up the BBQ…

Abstract Goat on a napkin from one of my sisters' houses at the BBQ.
Abstract Goat on a napkin from one of my sisters’ houses at the BBQ.

I was ready to be back in Brooklyn and just work on my photography at home. I drove home in traffic and collapsed into a deep sleep by midnight. However, I woke up at 4:30am the next morning and proceeded to the nearest park to find the perfect shot. And I did. I have one where the paper is in a puddle with the sunrise and trees reflected into it. However, it’s a Black and White Photography class so it didn’t matter. Toward the end of the morning, I had a few great angles with a lot of depth but then people in the city woke up and photobombed my photo. Oye!

Exhausted, I made my way to good old Megabites’ Diner and drew this…

 

Flower Girl, drawn at Megabite's Diner
Flower Girl, drawn at Megabite’s Diner

I ended my weekend riding my bike to Greenwood Cemetery, a Historic Landmark, to conclude my photography journey. It’s a marvelously peaceful place with winding pathways and dramatic headstone statues dating back to the Civil War.

Photography is allowed but I get the heebee-jeebees every time I go in there. In total, I took nearly 200 photos of paper. I was really proud of some of them and was excited about class today. Turns out, we’re only going to be selecting 3 of 20 that we choose to work on and critique. It makes me feel a little sad. I worked so hard to get all those shots and we’re only developing 3 of them?!

My class ended around 1pm today but I stayed in the photo lab until 4:30pm experimenting with Lightroom 5 on 20 photos. Everyone went home. Even the lab tech guy went out to get something to eat. When I was ready to go home, I forgot how to save my work on my external hard drive from the software. I tried my best and am hoping that all my work is there, somewhere.

I feel like an idiot.

I guess I’ll try again tomorrow. On a happier note, I’ve discovered that one of my nieces is a prolific doodler like her crazy Aunt Mary. I thought I’d end this by sharing her fabulous 3D zentangle doodle.

One of my niece's prolific Zentangle doodles.
One of my niece’s prolific Zentangle doodles.

To be continued…

Best Napkin Doodles of the Past 100 Postings

Philanthropic Art

There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.

-Scott Adams

.

Today’s napkin doodle left at Megabites Diner and some Zentangle practice on ATC cards to trade with family members at the BBQ tomorrow!

Got something really exciting in the mail today. It’s related to art and Brooklyn, so I’ll share.

Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist who directed his own documentary called The Waste Land, just started a new philanthropic art installation project. He’s known for taking found objects and creating portraits with them. His recent project involves creating two art pieces made from a total of 20,000 soccer balls. He’s doing this to raise money for impoverished families and through soccer programs for low income kids. If people make a specific donation amount to the non-profit organization called Street Football World, through his “This is not a ball” project, he sends you one of the soccer balls that were used in his art installation. He’s working on a new documentary related to art, soccer, and how both effect people’s lives in powerful ways.

Naturally, I donated because one of the choices for a donation was for a Youth Soccer Program for homeless and low income kids from Brooklyn. How could I say no to that? I donated and I got my “NOT” ball. I’m torn about weather I should use it or display it with it’s fancy Certificate of Authenticity. I’ll wait a few days to decide.

If you’re curious about this organization, click HERE. It’s good karma and you get a piece of his artwork. It was sent pretty quickly too.

I donated to another charity through Muniz related to raising money for the Tsunami victims in Japan. He gave away posters of his photography of thousands of origami peace cranes that were arranged in the shape of a giant crane if you donated. Here’s more on his project called, Students Rebuild. Some of my students think of me as the Origami Teacher because I used to have an Origami Club in my old school and, as a reward, I would teach my students how to fold origami and related it to the Legend of the Thousand Paper Cranes. It was really exciting for me to learn that the kids who made the cranes where from NYC. Maybe one of my students…

All good stuff and a perfect day for artwork, smores (in the microwave), and I think the rain will clear up long enough for us to see the fireworks tonight. Enjoy the light show and be safe!

ATC Card Doodling

Happy 4th of July!

Found an old ATC (Artist Trading Card) of mine from when I went to Belgium and bike rode through Bruges. My family and I had the habit of going to Panera Bread for breakfast every now and then. We drew on ATCs and exchanged them. Here’s a few in my collection.

1. Mine is the girl bike riding.

2. My sister, Carol, drew the bread

3. My mom drew the tree and the orange with the sticker attached (found art!)

4. My dad drew the airplane but denies being able to draw.

5. One of my neices drew the sunrise.

Looking forward to seeing the whole lot of them for a reunion tomorrow back on Long Island tomorrow. Too much rain today for anything outdoors today so lots of sketching to be done and some photography homework. I have to take 100 photos of a piece of paper interacting with light. It’s actually really time consuming.