Category Archives: art therapy

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 you’re 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.


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,


Tangling with Zentangle

The school year ended yesterday! Yay!

As a dedicated doodler, I feel like it’s my job to try out all forms of mindless drawing when the opportunity presents itself. After work, the opportunity presented itself so I went to my local art store and went on a little art supply shopping spree. I picked up a book called, One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun by Beckah Krahula. Click HERE for more information on it. I’ve started the course today and completed the first three days because that’s how I roll when I get free time to myself. This is what I have created so far…

These were the first three patterns that I tried from her book.
These were the first three patterns that I tried from her book.

Next, three patterns were tangled up with some of the first few patterns in the next drawing.

Day 2, zentangle
Day 2, zentangle

And finally, Day 3’s zentangle doodle…

Day 3, Zentangle
Day 3, Zentangle

I am struggling with the whole idea of keeping the doodling structured into specific compartments of a square so I tend to ignore some of the author’s suggestions to keep the zentangle drawing in a square. I like the new styles and combinations of patterns offered by the book. I find it funny that there are specific names for these patterns, many of which sound like names given to furniture at IKEA. Great branding, though!

Also, I love the idea of shading my ink drawings with a pencil. It adds something extra to my drawings. While I enjoyed learning about this drawing style all day, I am ready to go back to freestyle doodling on napkins. If my Photography class this summer doesn’t take up all my time, I might try a few more of these tangle thingies.

Signing off for now…

Art as a Language

Weird Anime Creature Doodle 002

Sat down with my usual Earl Grey Tea at Megabites and drew this odd little creature. A local artist who displays his art pieces within the diner noticed that I was drawing on my napkins again and said something really interesting,

Artwork is it’s own language with it’s own psychic landscape.

He’s absolutely right! Wouldn’t it be great if we could have one whole conversation using illustration rather than words?! What if Congress used this method?! We would not need lawyers or politicians to interpret the archaic legalese way in which many of our laws were written. The Tower of Babel would be made whole again. Yeah, I don’t think it would really work but one can dream. Still, I like the idea behind using art to bring meaning to something which words fail to illuminate.

Well, those are my random thoughts and doodle for the day. Cheers to the waitress who got to the doodle first after I left!


The Faceless Girl

The Faceless Girl

When I was younger, I took a Psychology in Art class. There were universal shapes that were often drawn by children of the same age around the world. Then there were drawings that helped children without the words to articulate their feels who would draw their family members. Some of the more dominant individuals in the family were drawn bigger. There was something to be said about the proximity of each family member from the others. And then, there were illustrations of self-portraits that were somewhat angular with no eyes or no hands, maybe a home with no doors. Those were the parts that we, as students, were asked to pay special attention. They might be indicative of something that the child felt he or she was unable to express. No ears, eyes or mouth could mean, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. It’s a bit speculative though.

I tend to draw a lot of faceless people. I’m not sure if this indicates anything in particular psychologically or if it’s just my own artistic inclinations. I guess I wonder from where our own inspiration comes. Is it our psyche speaking up? Maybe I should try a Jungian analysis of my artwork and see if there are any female archetypes represented here.

The process of creating seems somewhat like a waking dream, I guess. Maybe that’s why so many creative types often feel like a vessel of some unknown creative spirit rather than assume complete conscious control over what is put down on paper. Where do you think your creative inspiration comes from? Anyone know any books about this subject? Will have to do some research on it. My favorite book is Shadows Bright As Glass by Amy Ellis Nut about an individual named Jon Sarkin who became this creative prodigy after experiencing brain trauma. His personality changed and he just felt an overwhelming need to create constantly. It makes me wonder if creativity is biochemical or from the part of the subconscious responsible for dreams. Maybe it’s from our experiences or all of it combined. Anyway, it’s a great book and it’s worth a read. Here’s a NY Times review by Abigal Zuger, M.D.

So, yeah. Here’s my drawing. Pointilism with a micron pen. Happy Doodling!

Abstraction on a Napkin

Abstraction on a Napkin

After taking photos of the protest at Union Square, it poured. I was soaked. Took a soggy ride back to Brooklyn, settled down for some dinner at good old Mullane’s Pub and doodled something on a napkin. Straight lines helped to mentally make sense of our chaotic world somehow. It felt very centering and made me think of Frank Stella’s artwork. Must revisit his stuff.

Rorschach Ink Doodle

Rorschach Ink Doodle

Guten nacht! Sketched this at a Sports Bar called Der Schwarze Kolner. Lots of communal seating on wooden benches and large screen TVs. All great reasons to go there to see any kind of sports game. I wish I was more interested in sports, especially since the Brooklyn Nets managed to make it to the playoffs. I doodled while my friends watched the game and came up with this. They all offered their analysis of what it actually was. One guy saw an ear repeated in it. What do you see? Maybe it’s like a Rorschach Ink blot test. You see whatever your subconscious is fixated upon.

Primrose Tea and Sympathy

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

-T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

My sister requested a reset button for her vacation. I wish I could do the same for my weekend. Too many complications, arguments with loved ones, self-doubt, and add to that, random cantankerous strangers on the streets of Brooklyn who occasionally like to chime in with something resembling a put down. It’s that kind of a weekend. Having one of those days where I felt like my life was missing purpose.

So, I stormed out of my tiny apartment in search for a place that felt nurturing for breakfast and found myself at Primrose Cafe in Clinton Hill for tea. Under a brownstone, this small place has a feeling like you are visiting your grandmother’s house, complete with board games, garden seating in the back, and pretty shabby chic décor that set the right tone for my doodling and some comforting hot Earl Grey tea. I drew some real nonsense for a while until I got it out of my system. Maybe not solving all my problems, but certainly felt safe to just be.




It’s important to self-nurture. There are a lot of opinions that float out there about people’s worth or value. It’s easy to slip into a dark place of feeling worthless and powerless to change everything. I suppose these napkins are worthless since they no longer do their job of cleaning up messes since I’ve drawn on them. However, to me and maybe to a few people who enjoy them, they are worth considering. It’s all perspective in how we choose see any given situation.

So after tea, I took a short walk to a community garden. It used to be an abandoned lot, worthless. The people in the community felt this tiny piece of land was worth something to their garden and their art. Here’s a couple of pics of it…



These flowers aren’t solving world hunger but, certainly, they are not worthless to someone like me who needs a place to sit, be, and breathe in a nurturing place. Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Just try to remember, your sheer existence is worth it to someone who might be sitting nearby you. Not everyone can be the beacon of hope to the world but your energy adds to everyone else’s life experience. Try to keep positive…or just doodle something crazy for your waiter or waitress. Peace!

Me on Mondays

Me on Mondays

This is a quick self-portrait sketch because all potential artists need one, I guess. When I did this one, I had bangs and looked a bit serious, I suppose. I’m guessing it was a Monday because I’m not the biggest fan of Mondays, in general. I was told by a Pratt University graduate admissions person that this looked ‘dark’. I wasn’t sure if she meant the medium (which was a pretty dark pencil) or that the general mood of it was dark. Either way, I bravely shared my sketch that I thought captured my essence. That interview into the Art Therapy program put me on the wait list for a full year until, out of nowhere, I was being reconsidered again. Going through the admissions process the first time is a tremendous amount of work (a new portfolio?) and anxiety producing. I could not bring myself to do it a second time and opted not to do it. Who knows if it was the right decision but I’m sure I just saved myself $80,000 considering that career would not pay nearly that much a year. Closed one door, so maybe another might open. Time will tell.