Category Archives: illustration

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 neither 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!

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!

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.

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!

Pigeons, Pubs, and Doodles

Napkin Doodle at the Brooklyn Pub during Brunch
Napkin Doodle at the Brooklyn Pub during Brunch

Brooklyn Pub

While I’m not really inclined to think Pub for brunch, I was really pleased to find that my favorite old pub began serving brunch with their new management. There’s a host of new characters running the place with British accents and they’re all very sweet. The cook offered us free Bloody Marys since breakfast took longer than expected (some sort of miscommunication…they are brand new to brunches). We declined but were really pleased by the offer since there are a number of brunchy places in the neighborhood who wouldn’t even apologize for taking a long time. Anyway, the French toast with fresh peaches and yogurt was worth the wait. I didn’t take any photos of it because I just dove in and devoured it.

So I’m back in the doodling groove. This British Brooklyn Pub had some really great music and there weren’t too many people there yet. They seemed to be okay with me taking my time with my coffee as I drew and let my boyfriend take his time searching for his Fantasy Football team. Here’s a peak inside the pub…

Brooklyn Pub

I completed my Black and White Photography class this week so I was pleased to find that I could sit, relax, and focus on my doodles again. For the past month, my mind has been filled with projects, places I needed to photograph and I was awake at all hours trying to optimize the best lighting. I’m going to actually miss the Photo Lab. I stayed for many hours after class working on my photos because I tend to throw myself into projects. Now, it’s over!

Brooklyn Flea (Market) and Pigeons

Walked over to the Brooklyn Flea and found a booth called Carrier Pigeon. They were selling illustrations for $50 each and put out a magazine publication of illustrations. Took their card and bought an Apple Ginger soda and a donut from one of the vendors. was immediately surrounded by pigeons. Seems as though I am constantly encountering pigeons so I figured I would try to draw one. I shared half my donut with them and broke out my sketchbook. I experimented with continuous line drawing where you try to draw something without picking up the pen. It didn’t always work but I managed to draw one of the pigeons. See below…

Continuous Line Pigeon 

It was a good drawing exercise and it kept me entertained. The pigeon seemed to just know it was being drawn and photographed because it started to pose for my camera.

Blue Pigeon

I know they’re not the most popular bird in NYC but I think this one was particularly pretty.

We bonded…and then my donut was gone and it flew away.  

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

-Mary,

*~Chief Doodler at Brooklyn Doodle~*

Peace.