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,


2 thoughts on “How Caffeine Can Unintentionally Affect Your Art

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