Category Archives: doodle

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

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!

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

Birthday Resolutions

We don’t grow older, we grow riper.

Pablo Picasso

Drawn August 2014
Drawn August 2014 at the Blue Water Restaurant

It is my birthday week! I usually make a list of resolutions of what I’ll try to accomplish for the next year of my life. Last year, I started a blog, finished a fine arts degree, rode the 25th annual NYC Century Bike Tour (35 miles through the city, plus a few extra miles to ride to the event from my apartment and back), had one of my paintings hung in an art gallery, learned how to use a camera and won $200 in a photography competition, drew on napkins throughout Brooklyn, and traveled across the country to Seattle, Washington. Not a bad year. Time to dream big again!

What kind of wishes should I make for this year?

On a side note, I’m sorry this is an older doodle. I drew 3 this past week and completely forgot to take pictures of them for the blog. Back to the routine again. The weather was crisp yesterday and I’m looking forward to hot tea and long billowy scarf weather. This is napkin doodling season if there ever was.  Enjoy the season.

Ciao,

Mary

Simple Lines on Summer Days

I’m still doodling but haven’t been posting as much. Life happens and I’ve been riding the emotional rollercoaster that goes through it all.

Brooklyn Flea in August 2014

My three nephews moved to Florida last week from New York. I miss them already.

I was thinking of them when I drew this while waiting for a friend at the Brooklyn Flea.

Syracuse Sailboat Doodle

Drew this during a road trip to Syracuse, New York a the Blue Water Bar and Grill. Was going to visit a friend whom I haven’t seen in 2 years for her re-wedding. Her initial wedding was in China and I was about to meet this new married entity for the first time. Disorienting but it was lovely and am quite happy for them both.

Drawing on a napkin at Junior's in Downtown Brooklyn
Drawing on a napkin at Junior’s in Downtown Brooklyn

After a long, long road trip with my very exhausted boyfriend, we found solace is a huge bowl of pie a la mode at Junior’s. It’s a historic landmark known for their cheesecake, really.  Many celebrities have graced this place with their presence over the years. I felt like I was in an Edward Hopper painting while sitting at the booth.

Drawn at Mega Bites Diner
Drawn at MegaBytes Diner

Finally, a return to good old Megabytes Diner! It’s been particularly crowded there lately. Students have returned to the local colleges. Parents are visiting. And, I return to work at my school as well. As much as I’ve enjoyed my summer, I’m looking forward to finding a routine again, the cooler weather, long scarves, and hot tea. And of course, more napkins on which to doodle.

A Brooklynite in Seattle

JFK Doodle
Doodle at the JKF airport, waiting to board my plane.

My Journey

Wasting no time after my photography class ended, I booked a flight to Seattle. Why Seattle? Rain. Brooklyn is brutal in the Summer months. My neighbor calls our top floor, The Percolator.

It’s an old Brownstone, heat rises, and I live in what was probably the attic in the 1800s. Needless to say, my summer trips have been centered around finding some place cool, temperature wise. Seattle’s rain seemed like the right idea for a nice, cool August.

Seattle’s Indian Summer

Seattle Ferris Wheel

Me: It was so cloudy this morning. I thought it would eventually rain. But, what the heck, it didn’t. Are you sure I’m in Seattle?

Delivery Guy: HA! Rain in Seattle…that’s what we tell everyone else so they won’t move here. We’re having an Indian Summer. It barely rains these days. 

Me at Pike's Place

Hot Coffee on Hot Days

I explored but I’m not going to lie. It was disappointingly hot during the day. Since I was escaping the heat from New York, I had to reconsider what I was doing in Seattle during their Indian Summer. Not the weather I was expecting! It was no cooler than Brooklyn but it had a dryer heat so, on a good note,  the shade actually worked like air conditioning.  

I told myself there would be lots to see and much coffee to be had. Yes, I belong here, I decided.  Headed for lunch at a pub called The Pike’s Brewing Company, in part, I went there because their décor outrageous and begs to be seen. I especially loved all the bikes hanging from the ceiling. Biking seemed like it would be impossible since half the roads were at 90 degree angles but, clearly, there was a bike culture lurking around here. Anyway, it was good grub after a long plane ride and it was around the corner from the alley with the gum wall. Fun touristy stuff!

The Pike Brewing Company

The good waitstaff  there recommended Seattle Coffee Works for a decent cup of coffee if you’re near Pike’s Place. They were spot on if you’re looking for strong, flavorful coffee. However, I got sucked into the biggest coffee tourist trap in the Public Market. That’s right, the first coffee location before it became an international corporate franchise. (I know all you independently owned coffee house owners are facepalming yourselves right now). The first Starbucks! Moment of shame. Don’t worry, I figure out a few things during my week long stay.

First Starbucks in Pike's Place Market; Seattle, WA
First Starbucks in Pike’s Place Market; Seattle, WA

I felt like if you’re a tourist in Seattle, it’s your job to visit Pike’s Place Market. I’ve visited here several years ago and absolutely nothing has changed. Nothing! In Brooklyn, there are buildings and stadiums being built faster than you can say, fuhgettaboutit. In Seattle, it seemed like keeping the history alive is EVERTHING. Even the original Starbucks had the same older version of it’s logo. The only thing that seemed to be changing somewhat biomorphically was the ever expanding Gum Wall, seen below. I couldn’t see this massive sponge wall of saliva idea going well with the uber health conscious former NYC Mayor Bloomberg. So yes, this had to be seen.

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Delving into Seattle’s History

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Sure, why not. Hopped on the very expensive Ride the Duck tour and got the skinny on the city. The history of Seattle’s golden age of grunge, Kurt Cobain, the Beatles, Iver’s Fish Stand, Sleepless in Seattle, Skid Row, etc. History was frantically extolled by a hyper (caffeine-induced) bus/boat driver ad nauseam as we honked our approval with loud duck whistles.

Oh no, did I really do that? A formal apology to the good people of Seattle then. I fell for yet another tourist trap. Disney could learn a thing or two from Seattle, I think. I shutter to think about the money I spent on this. Tomorrow, a new quest and less expensive.

Beyond Starbucks: Trying All the Coffee 

In an old brick railway arcade lies the Grand Central Cafe
In an old brick railway arcade lies the Grand Central Café

Okay, I didn’t really try all the coffee in Seattle or I wouldn’t be alive to write this blog. The strength of one cup of coffee in Seattle feels like 3 coffees from the diners in New York. Café au Lait (half milk) became my strategy and I was happily rewarded with a pretty steamed milk doodle of a leaf on the top of it at the Grand Central Bakery and Café. This place became my favorite place to go early in the morning.

I dug the brick, the cobblestone, the underground bookstore, and the shade of trees everywhere. The baristas were kind but not hyperactive nice which felt calming and I got a lot of drawing done. If you’re curious, feel free to check out my Seattle napkin doodles, HERE.  

Had it been my first time in Seattle, I might have done the Underground Tour again which is down the block from here. It’s a funny, historical tour of the original city of Seattle that is still partially standing underneath the current city. However, I think I felt done with historical tours.

More Coffee!!! MORE COFFEE!!! And then…

Cherry Street Coffee House Ghost Alley Expresso

…you crash.

Between Jet Lag, walking up huge hills at every corner, greasy fried fish, and too much coffee, you feel done. JUST DONE! I hadn’t drank that much coffee since I worked in a bookstore after high school. My stomach was tied in knots and I was incredibly jittery. I’m an herbal tea person so what did I expect? Even the Central Library had a cafe. Naps were needed and I suddenly felt the need to get out of touristy part of Downtown Seattle.

Gasworks Park

I rented a bike through a great company called, The Bicycle Repair Shop (across the street from the famous Iver’s Fish Stand) and followed a 16 mile trek through Olympus Park, across the Locks, zoomed passed the Botanical Gardens, passed through hipster Ballard  and Fremont nabes, gave up on finding the Fremont Troll under the bridge and finally stopped at Gasworks Park and took it all in. Perfect place to regroup before venturing across the University Bridge and up the toughest street hill ever.

Sadako Sasaki

Along the way (Peace St.), I encountered a statue of Sadako Sasaki, who inspired the book called, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. I used to run an Origami club after school hours and this story was the reason behind it. Legend had it, if you folded a thousand paper cranes, you get a wish. Sadako was 11 when she passed away from the A-bomb disease (leukemia). While she was in the hospital, she tried to fold the paper cranes in order to live. When she passed, her classmates finished her cranes and made it a wish for peace. The cranes are now called Peace Cranes.

It completed the trip but I think I started to miss home.

Back to Brooklyn

Since arriving home around midnight last Friday, I nursed a massive headache for two days from coffee withdrawal. I joined the world in my shock over Robin William’s passing and cried my eyes out over movies like Dead Poet Society. And then Lauren Bacall, the last great actress of the Golden Age passing away. It’s rained all week in New York (the irony is not lost on me).

Autumn feels closer and closer.

And yet, I feel good to be home, finally. I’ve reclaimed my people of Brooklyn, even welcomed the unexpected screams of the Japanese punk rock band who screamed ‘Shut the f* up’ to the audience at the Socrates Sculpture Park last night as I ate sushi and fed catnip to one of the park’s stray cats. The audience looked on and seemed to appreciate this impolite but passionate expressive art. It was a huge change from the polite, happy tourist scene from the week prior but, somehow, it made me feel validated as if I was suddenly part of Ginsberg’s howl. Angst needs an outlet and the boroughs of New York City seem to find modes of expression in its art. I bike rode home to Brooklyn from Queens on flat streets and it was all good again.

Back to my own art. And back to herbal teas.

Peace and Decaf,

Mary

Doodling in Seattle

Good morning! Thought I’d share a few doodles from my trip. Seattle was lovely. Lots of coffee, bike riding, and touristy things. I missed home though and was ready to come back to Brooklyn when it was all over. You know what they say…you can take the girl out of Brooklyn but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the girl. I will have dreams about Seattle’s plethora of amazing coffee and treats though. Back to tea for me though. Too much coffee makes me all jittery. So, take a peak at my doodle gallery and enjoy! Clickity-click it!