Louis

Luis, Keeper of Secrets

People like secrets. Creative people really like secrets.

-Nolan Bushnell

Louis Wings

Meet Luis, Keeper of Secrets.

Last week, I have had to wait and then be instantly attentive at a moments notice. It’s hard to stay engaged when this happens perpetually throughout the course of a week or two. Drawing has helped me to wait, to listen, to stay engaged and to stay awake in my seat for many, many hours. Stippling is a drawing technique that seems awfully tedious but is so meditative. The repetition of movement allows you to stay grounded in a circus-like atmosphere.

Luis, my fly on the wall that hears all but says nothing, was born under these circumstances. Perhaps I’ll continue this character’s narrative with a few friends or adventures. Makes you wonder if that’s how Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh were born. Most of my colleagues simply go on their ipads or iphones the second there’s downtime. Some have started to doodle like me, when using technology is not appropriate. Investing time in a hobby during the waiting period seems like time well spent though.

I’ll share one of my secret wishes since we’re on the topic. Since high school, I made a wish to be a writer and illustrator of children’s books. I felt like it’s one of those wishes that go out there like winning the lottery or owning a yacht. It was a dream that got lost in bills, paying the rent, and heartbreaks. Well, recently, one of my five sisters wrote a book. I had no idea she was writing one. She revealed her secret to world this past month and it inspired me to give my dream a shot. I’m not sure how to start exactly but I noticed that many people in the blogging community are writers and illustrators. I’ll start reading and getting advice from them. If you know any blog sites in particular to help with that, feel free to put it in the comments section.

If you’re curious about my sister’s book, it’s called Oceanus: Living in Isolation by JM McAlpine, click HERE!

Enjoy and make your secrets into something creative!

Love,

Mary

Snow Face

Doodling on Snow

Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.

-Andy Goldsworthy

Snow Face

If you don’t know who Andy Goldsworthy is, you should check out his documentary, Rivers and Tides. He’s an Environmental Artist who goes out into nature and creates beautiful sculptural pieces using only the material that nature provides him. Since some of his pieces are dependent on temperature (like ice and snow) or are so delicate as to be worn away by wind or water, he works against time. He videotapes or takes photos of his work and sells that. Occasionally, his work will survive the elements and can be viewed in person. There is one place in New York where anyone can view his environmental sculpture and that’s at Storm King Art Center, which is actually a Sculpture Park. It’s presently closed for the season but it’s set to reopen on April 1st so I may have to plan a small road trip over there in a month and a half.

In the meantime, I’ll take advantage of this snowy season and create doodles on park tables in the snow. Maybe the chilly weather will freeze them into place until Spring!

Snow Fish

These were created on Valentine’s Evening along Dekalb Ave. in Fort Greene. The snow was just right for playing with it.

Snow Lady

I had a lovely day with lovely surprises; played some pool, air hockey, and ping pong. Walked through the snow and had some milky hot chocolate from The Hungry Ghost cafe. Ended the night at Hoja Santa, a lovely Mexican Restaurant that fed us well. I hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s Day weekend as well. If not, go buy yourself some flowers and chocolate now that it’s all on sale.

Snow Candle

Go play in the snow!

Blue butterfly wings

Handing Out Wings

Things are always better in the morning.

-Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Blue butterfly wings

Good morning and Happy Valentine’s Day! There’s a small part of me that wants to bash the holiday as being so commercial but I really enjoy seeing people do nice things for each other. A nearby church gave out free roses to people who crossed their path. This included some really tough Brooklyn types who walked away holding their blue roses delicately and each person who received a rose seemed to be a bit in awe. It’s as though this was the first time anyone had ever considered giving them flowers and so they were extra careful with it. It might have been the sweetest thing I’ve seen this week. Today, I dedicate these wings to those who gave out free roses to strangers yesterday.

Double long wings

Bird Wings

Another lovely Valentine’s Day surprise involved something on www.kiva.org. It’s a global lending site to help individuals who need a loan for specific projects but due to things ranging from high poverty rates and political reasons, most banks wouldn’t normally lend to them. I learned about it from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Site because they have a team who raise money for some of these situations. I managed to get eight other fabulous women on the team to help a group of Vietnamese Women raise money to build a latrine and washing station for one of their members in a Women’s Union. Maybe that’s technically not a Valentine’s Day gift but meeting our goal felt like one. So, I’ll dedicate a few more wings to those ladies who helped.

Two birds

Bat WingsBug Wings

My last set of wings goes to my husband-to-be. He’s surviving yet another Valentine’s Day with me, which is pretty impressive. The best gift he gave to me was when my allergies acted up this week and, after taking some allergy meds, he let me sleep for 11 hours straight. He didn’t complain that I didn’t get up to eat his beautiful dinner that he prepared, he did the dishes, and slept on the couch. That’s better than any bouquet of flowers or night out on the town. That was just sheer thoughtfulness when it was clearly needed. These wings are for him. Much love!

Pencil wings

Enjoy the day and look for kindness around you!

Abstract Butterfly

Wearing Wings on Grey Days

The man who has no imagination has no wings.

-Muhammad Ali

Abstract Butterfly

Here’s another drawing from my wings project. I am not sure what has me stuck on drawing wings. At times, I feel like a teenage girl doodling wings all over her notebook. Not a terrible thing. It’s a great way to clear my head of stuff I hear during Jury Duty. It’s gotten to a point where I like to imagine different types of wings for strangers passing by me on a crowded city street. Who would get dragonfly wings, raven’s wings, bee’s wings, polka dotted wings? Would we treat each other differently if we imagined each person with wings? It might soften their demeanor or make them look more terrifying depending on the type of wings one wore. It’s just a bit of nonsense. A daydream to make these grey winter days a bit more intriguing.

Long Feathered Wings

What sort of wings will you wear today? Friday the 13th wings? Pre-Valentine’s Day Wings?

Well, time to head to the courts and deal with some grey realities. Thank God for our imaginations and hot chocolate!

Finding Your Starting Point

The starting point of discovering who you are, your gifts, your talents, your dreams, is being comfortable with yourself. Spend time alone. Write in a journal. Take long walks in the woods.
-Robin S. Sharma
Pointilism Butterfly Wings
Find your starting point today. Who knows where it will lead you!

Renewed

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up.
-Pearl S. Buck
Caterpillar Wings Pointilism
I haven’t posted in so long so I wonder who will read this. Even if no one reads this, I’ve decided to renew my domain name for another year and continue my illustrations on napkins, scrap paper, receipts, newspapers, lunch bags, pizza boxes, and my sketch book. That’s my Chinese New Year’s Resolution. No, I’m not Chinese but since their New Year is Feb. 19th, I figure my resolution is just in time.
Stay warm and pick up a pen instead of your cell phone while you wait today.
Much love,
Mary
A work in progress

Finding Wings

A work in progress
A work in progress.

A New Year and a potential new project.

I decided to research different types of wings and create a sketchbook full of them. I feel like I could go anywhere with this: bat wings, bird wings, angel wings, dragonfly wings! You get the idea. I could eventually invent some sort of Steampunk version of wings. I could go for realism or fantasy. Maybe it will all lead to some metaphorical wings where I could find a way to fly out of the rut in which I have been wallowing.

So, I shall draw some wings for a clock. Maybe it will help time fly so I can move toward a happier upcoming event in my life. I am getting married this summer to a wonderful man. In case you were wondering why there were so many cups and plates at my diner table while I drew on napkins, it is because he was sitting across from me while I did it (in most cases). It’s nice when your creative antics has some support. So, that being said, I’m going to be really corny now and dedicate this napkin drawing blog to him!

And with that, a few more napkins drawn at Megabites in Ft. Greene and Dizzy’s Diner in Park Slope.

Eyes on the Candle Doodle IMG_9545New Year's Doodle 2015

On a side note, Dizzy’s Diner offers patrons a free cup of coffee with their purchase IF you can solve their riddles. The riddles change each day. Fun place! Happy New Year!

2014 in Review: My 1st Year with a Blog!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Inspired by Street Artist Kurt Wenner

Coming to an End

Inspired by Street Artist Kurt Wenner
Inspired by Street Artist Kurt Wenner

Life moves very fast. It rushes from Heaven to Hell in a matter of a second.

-Paulo Coelho

This is not a napkin. I haven’t photographed one of my napkin drawings in a while but I started to work on bristol paper again. I was inspired by Kurt Wenner who created many 3D illusions on pavement using pastels. An old friend gave me his book, Asphalt Renaissance, which documents his journey through Italy as he makes a living from the change he collects for his pastel chalk creations. I’m fascinated by the whole idea of him living his passion, working for himself, and his technique. In fact, I read an excerpt about how one of his creations was viewed by the Pope John Paul II. He made a 75 ft. tall creation of The Last Judgement. Incredibly detailed! On the top of this creation is Heaven and the classical European version of what artist’s believed God must look like. I started to sketch it but discovered that I wanted to make it female. Based on what I learned in Catholic school, God is nearly male nor female so I took some artistic license and created this drawing instead.

I have been away from my napkin doodling but I continue to draw. I went to Tom’s Coney Island Diner on the boardwalk not too long ago. The famous amusement park is closed down and the seagulls weave through the tracks of the Cyclone roller coaster. Small bits of snow intermingled with the waves. So many people go fishing off the piers, even in the winter. So, I drew a bit at the Diner and the waitress assumed I was a tattoo artist based on my illustrations. She said her manager did that stuff too. I took it as a compliment and realized that there was a very creative vibe coming from the patrons. There was even a motorcycle gang who met in the back for lunch. All walks of life sat at the front counter to eat hot food and see the football game. There’s something about just sitting near the beach that has a healing effect on people and let’s everyone just relax. It was a good vibe and I really needed it.

It’s the end of 2014. So much has changed. Some of it has been good and others, not so much. It’s hard to quantify it. One thing I know, I think the year of napkin doodling and blogging appears to be coming to an end. I’m proud of this body of work: the illustrations, the reflections, and the photographing of different places around Brooklyn. It’s both strange and gratifying to put my work out there for anyone to read. Thank you so much for letting me share this year with you as I doodled my way through all the tea and coffee in the neighborhood. As my mom would say, go gently!

Enjoy the holidays and have a very happy New Year!

Napkin Doodle Photograph Winner

Good Morning!

Some good news…

About a week ago, I posted a photo of a napkin doodle as I usually do. Usually, I take the photo but I forgot my camera that day. My fiancé who is knee deep into photography decided to take the photo for me (and I should have given him props in my blog for it). Click HERE to see the original blog.

What’s really, REALLY cool is that he won a photography competition through AdoramaPix on Facebook and got $50 in photo lab credit. I’d like to believe it’s all good karma for helping me out with my blog. The competition was to come up with a photo that fits the “Coffee” theme. The judges had nice things to say about different aspects of the photo including that they loved my artwork on the napkin. Made me feel pretty good.

If you have Facebook, you can check his winning photo out HERE!

Um, that’s all. ::curtsy::  …more napkin doodles to come.

Harvesting

There’s nothing in a caterpillar

that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.

-R. Buckminster Fuller a.k.a. Bucky

Drawn at the General Greene over breakfast.
Drawn at the General Greene over breakfast.

My weekend has been full of vineyards, corn mazes, farms, pumpkin patches, Harvest Festivals, and apple pie. Good weekend memories helped me get through a hectic Monday and has me wistfully longing for Columbus Day weekend. Granted, I still need to take allergy medication and load up on Vitamin C. However, the cool air sweater weather has me feel like I’m floating effortlessly down the streets of Brooklyn. I get hopeful whenever I see another tree begin to change color and have cravings for roasted corn.

How are you celebrating Autumn?

I love October

Mary:

Happy October! Was browsing through my favorite blogs this morning and was really inspired by this holiday project. A Zentangler, which is a person who does a specific type of doodling, decided to doodle all over a plastic black pumpkin. I think I’m going to have to try this. Maybe my doodles need to go beyond the napkin and onto something three dimensional. Oh, the possibilities!

So yeah and check out this site. There’s a link to a Doodler’s Group called For the Love of Doodling.
The Adventures of a Dropstitcher’s blog is a lovely site that has plenty of ideas to inspire.

Originally posted on The Adventures of Dropstitchknitter:

It’s my favorite time of year and October has got to be my favorite month.  I just love the color, the weather (for the most part – snow and ice storms not included) and Halloween!  I love to decorate for Halloween…

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This is a plastic craft pumpkin I bought at Michaels…it comes in black, white, orange and I think I saw some in pink.  I really had a lot of fun doing this black pumpkin with white Gelly Roll pen….and you can see my new tangle, Podzles there on the right side.  I have one more I’m working on in a orangy, metalic pen and I’m close to finishing that – it will be done this weekend.

In sheepy news – I’ve three more sketches to ink in and so many more to do…..I was hoping to put together a calender for the holidays, but I’m also getting ready for…

View original 80 more words

Blue Forest Folktales

Read the folklore masters. Go to galleries. Walk in the woods. That’s what you need to be an artist or storyteller.

-Terri Windling

An older napkin drawing from a year ago that I never posted.
An older napkin drawing from a year ago that I never posted.

For the past month, I’ve been doing a reading enrichment program with students. I wanted to explore Hispanic Heritage Month with plenty of informational texts on Latin Americans who are responsible for many achievements in America. However, it was the folktales that have captured my imagination.

Without marketing or social media, these folktales have spread and have been retold to countless generations because of some overarching truth being extolled between the lines. The ethos of any culture can really be captured in these folktales. So, I’ve been combining my informational text with folktales from Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, and Guatamala. The lessons, the challenges, and the value systems of each culture are passed through these folktales and into my classroom.

It made me wonder, had politicians taken the time to read the folktales of other cultures, perhaps their emotional intelligence and diplomatic skills would be greatly enhanced. Since my classroom has children from a number of different countries, it’s interesting to hear their input and the conflicting perspectives of any given tale.

I read a Mexican folktale called Ashes for Gold. A man is tricked into trying to sell ashes, something considered relatively worthless, for gold. One Bengali student told me that ashes are actually used in brush one’s teeth in parts of her country. I wasn’t sure if this was true so I looked it up and she was right, according to National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Click HERE to see.

So, maybe political figures should sit in a multicultural public school while reading folktales to get a sense of the many ways different cultures may miscommunicate. All I know is that I felt like I had this clarity to see beyond all differences between cultures with these folktales for a minute. They are worth exploring to ignite that creative spark too.

So Happy Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th-October 15th)! Now go read a folktale and let it inspire you.

Doodle sent to my sister

Defending Our Rights to Create!

Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.

-Al Hirschfeld

Doodle sent to my sister

Today I started my unofficial art club with the late students after school today. All of it is word of mouth but news spreads fast in the cafeteria. Children will just gravitate to where the drawing is happening and ask for whatever paper and pencils that I might have. We have the quietest table in the cafeteria. It almost seems like it’s a group meditation session where all the kids are lost in the trance of creating.

Sometimes it drives me nuts how schools cut Art programs the second there is an economic crisis. The Arts are just as important to the culture of our country as much as the psychological well-being of those who create it. Happier, well-adjusted people mean fewer crimes.

As a NYC resident, I can’t help but notice how the arts are directly responsible for the tourism industry and the economic growth of any given community. Take The Gates installation in Central Park by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in February 2005. It took several naysaying, short-sighted mayors before one finally approved it’s installation which brought a huge amount of tourism during one of the coldest winters ever in New York. So, how is Art not valuable to this countries’ economic growth? The Arts are just as important as, say, Math. They’d never cut Math from the curriculum! They shouldn’t cut the Arts either.

So, that’s my rant today. I wanted to help fund some of the artistic efforts in economically depressed neighborhoods. I felt inspired to donate to a non-profit organization called Art and Scraps in Detroit that collects materials for children to make found art. Found Art is basically creating sculptural art out of material that is found. Click HERE to check out the fundraising efforts of this organization. I really believe that investing in any of their Art programs will foster some promising talent and help the economy rebuild itself. I mean, look at Barcelona. They had the artist, Antoni Gaudi basically design the city. The result is a booming tourist industry.

If your curious about what Found Art looks like, my suggestion would be to check out the artist, Vik Muniz. He has an award winning documentary called The Wasteland that’s pretty moving. He uses garbage, sorry, ahem,  recyclable materials in order to create amazing portraits. He sells the photos of them at auctions. Here’s a look at the trailer…

So find an old pizza box, some old straws, or maybe a napkin and create some art on it today.  Express your creative spirit whenever you can. One day, I believe it will make a difference to someone out there.

Mary

Looking at the details.

Handwritten Letters and Quick Sketches

There was never a night or problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.

-Bernard Williams, philosopher

Sharpie, Oil Pastels, napkin from the diner.
Sharpie, Oil Pastels, napkin from the diner.

Good morning! Woke up a bit early this Monday morning. Curious what this week will bring. This weekend, I rediscovered the art of writing thank you cards and actually mailing them. No one seems to mail letters any more and I think it’s a big loss for humanity. Letters are a keepsake, a piece of the person who sent it to you. I still have letters that my grandmother sent me when I was younger. Some of the messages are more relevant today than they were when I received them.

At the diner.
At the diner.

I would like to believe that even napkin doodles are a bit like leaving a visual letter behind for whomever chooses to “read” it. Like handwriting, those little squiggles and lines you make thoughtlessly, that seem inconsequential, can mean a feeling of human connection for the person who might feel a bit lost or alone.

Looking at the details.
Looking at the details.

One of my older sisters moved her whole family to another state. The kids are adjusting to their new school environment, going through their own version of culture shock, trying to figure out the new rules there and how they’ll fit in. It can be disorienting and I imagine there will be times where they might feel a bit lost. I decided that my next napkin drawing would be for my sister. It’s a bit of nonsense on a napkin but it’s also a way of letting her know that she’s not alone and that we’re all rooting for her whole family.

Oil Pastel Rainbow

I found an old, graffiti covered mailbox a couple of blocks away from my apartment and put my handwritten letter and napkin doodle into it. I feel like it was the mailbox that time forgot. I mean, who mails letters anymore in the internet and texting age? So, we’ll see if it gets there. If there’s anything that you get from today’s blog, write someone an actual handwritten letter or a sketch, whatever, whether you send it to that person or not. I think putting your intention toward that person may make a difference in his or her day.

Peace,

Mary

Being Unique!

Sharpie, oil pastels, and a napkin canvas from the diner.
Sharpie, oil pastels, and a napkin canvas from the diner.

Style is something very individual, very personal, and in their own unique way, I believe everyone is stylish.

-Salamn Khan, film actor

Listening to Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy this morning with my coffee. Creates a bit of magical realism in your day. Cheers!

Butterfly Girl

Late Summer Doodling

Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower.

Albert Camus

Late Summer Doodles

Happy first day of Autumn!

I am home with my first cold of the season. It’s not fun but, usually, this is my favorite time of the year. I’m more likely to be found wandering around outside rather than indoors. The cool weather invites bike rides, tea, and farmer’s market shopping. In fact, I did my first NYC Century Bike tour this year. I rode 35 miles through Brooklyn, Queens, Randall’s Island, and Manhattan. Last week, I went to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops play at BAM. Last weekend, it was the Brooklyn Book Festival. These are my excuses for not keeping up with my blog lately. However, I continue to leave my doodles at diners and cafes.

IMG_9151

Proof.

That was me drawing at Junior’s restaurant. My boyfriend and I went there for my birthday cake a couple of weeks ago. Junior’s is known for their cheesecakes and even had a street called, Cheesecake Way, named after this historic diner’s claim to fame. The décor is over the top with their bright lights and bold colors. Hundreds of celebrities have had their picture taken at Juniors which are displayed around the diner. It’s a big old tourist trap that has been there for decades but I sort of love it. I feel like I’m in an Edward Hopper painting whenever I get to sit around the counter. If the waiters discover that it’s your birthday, your cake order gets a candle and a serenade from the staff.

Corny but fun stuff!

Birthday Cake at Junior's

Birthday Doodle

More surprises…

A couple of days after my birthday, my boyfriend and I went to one of our favorite diners when we first started dating, the Clinton Hill Diner. It’s across from Pratt University and the amber lighting and dark wood gives the place a hearth like feeling. The waiters are always friendly and there’s a nice opportunity to walk through Pratt’s Sculpture Park which is open to the public and to admire the old architecture in Historic Clinton Hill.

Clinton Hill Diner

Mummy

After a walk towards the Brooklyn Flea, my boyfriend and I decided it was perfect cool weather for a nice long bike ride. I waited for him on our favorite stoop. When he finally arrived, he got down on one knee and proposed.

Yay, we’re engaged!

Butterfly Girl

The leaves are changing and so am I, it would seem.

Much love and many doodling daydreams!

Mary, Chief Doodler