Category Archives: art

Back from the Dead

Self Portrait in Lancaster (3)

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head).”

-Sylvia Path

BOO!

Ok, so I haven’t blogged in a couple of years. Heck, I haven’t doodled in ages either. Well, I left Brooklyn so I could have an apartment with an actual kitchen. That means less diners or eating at restaurants and thus, less paper napkins in random places to inspire me. But maybe it was the Solar Eclipse or maybe because my road trip excursions led me to a hotel in Lancaster that left a sketchbook for guests on which to doodle, I felt compelled to brush away the creative cobwebs and cough up a doodle. And if you are ever in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, stay at the Lancaster Arts Hotel if you love to doodle. The staff collects the sketchbooks and hangs up your doodles around the hotel. It’s great for the ego and great if you also like a certain degree of anonymity with your doodling. The most popular doodle/drawing among the massive collection were self-portraits. I guess selfies know no boundaries regardless of the medium. Thus, I’ve deemed this lovely lady, “Self-Portrait.” I figure people can worry that one of the rooms were haunted.

I only stayed one night so I had time for a zentangle deconstructed chicken before heading to the farms of the Amish Country.

Lancaster Chicken (2)

And that was all for now. I’d like to believe that the floodgates of creative inspiration shall release a torrent of napkin doodles but we’ll take it slow. And maybe, just maybe, I will find my way back to Brooklyn. I miss it.

Me at Lancaster

Hopping Boroughs

So, I have been MIA far too long now. A big part of it is that I moved. I am no longer a Brooklyn Doodler and it kind of makes me sad that I’m not. I miss Brooklyn. I just don’t miss the teeny tiny living space and the very expensive rent. My husband and I made a leap of faith and decided to live in Queens. There’s more living space for less money. But again, it’s just not Brooklyn. So, until I become a Brooklynite again, I feel like it would be disingenuous to pose as the Brooklyn Doodler.

Funny enough, I took up weaving instead of drawing on napkins. Perhaps the wider living space and having an actual kitchen in this apartment makes me less inclined to go out to a restaurant only to ruin their napkins with my doodles.

So, I introduce to you, my new blog (drum roll, please!)…The Queens Weaver. I like it because it sounds like the Beatles song, Daydream Believer. Anyway, I invite you all to come visit my new blog page. I’m doodling with yarn now. Let me know what you think and click HERE!

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!

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

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.

My Tangled Adventures

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…

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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.

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.

Mary

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

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.

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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