“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).”
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.
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.
Good morning and Happy Valentine’s Day! There’s a small part of me that wants to bash the holiday as being so commercial but I really enjoy seeing people do nice things for each other. A nearby church gave out free roses to people who crossed their path. This included some really tough Brooklyn types who walked away holding their blue roses delicately and each person who received a rose seemed to be a bit in awe. It’s as though this was the first time anyone had ever considered giving them flowers and so they were extra careful with it. It might have been the sweetest thing I’ve seen this week. Today, I dedicate these wings to those who gave out free roses to strangers yesterday.
Another lovely Valentine’s Day surprise involved something on www.kiva.org. It’s a global lending site to help individuals who need a loan for specific projects but due to things ranging from high poverty rates and political reasons, most banks wouldn’t normally lend to them. I learned about it from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Site because they have a team who raise money for some of these situations. I managed to get eight other fabulous women on the team to help a group of Vietnamese Women raise money to build a latrine and washing station for one of their members in a Women’s Union. Maybe that’s technically not a Valentine’s Day gift but meeting our goal felt like one. So, I’ll dedicate a few more wings to those ladies who helped.
My last set of wings goes to my husband-to-be. He’s surviving yet another Valentine’s Day with me, which is pretty impressive. The best gift he gave to me was when my allergies acted up this week and, after taking some allergy meds, he let me sleep for 11 hours straight. He didn’t complain that I didn’t get up to eat his beautiful dinner that he prepared, he did the dishes, and slept on the couch. That’s better than any bouquet of flowers or night out on the town. That was just sheer thoughtfulness when it was clearly needed. These wings are for him. Much love!
Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up.
-Pearl S. Buck
I haven’t posted in so long so I wonder who will read this. Even if no one reads this, I’ve decided to renew my domain name for another year and continue my illustrations on napkins, scrap paper, receipts, newspapers, lunch bags, pizza boxes, and my sketch book. That’s my Chinese New Year’s Resolution. No, I’m not Chinese but since their New Year is Feb. 19th, I figure my resolution is just in time.
Stay warm and pick up a pen instead of your cell phone while you wait today.
I decided to research different types of wings and create a sketchbook full of them. I feel like I could go anywhere with this: bat wings, bird wings, angel wings, dragonfly wings! You get the idea. I could eventually invent some sort of Steampunk version of wings. I could go for realism or fantasy. Maybe it will all lead to some metaphorical wings where I could find a way to fly out of the rut in which I have been wallowing.
So, I shall draw some wings for a clock. Maybe it will help time fly so I can move toward a happier upcoming event in my life. I am getting married this summer to a wonderful man. In case you were wondering why there were so many cups and plates at my diner table while I drew on napkins, it is because he was sitting across from me while I did it (in most cases). It’s nice when your creative antics has some support. So, that being said, I’m going to be really corny now and dedicate this napkin drawing blog to him!
And with that, a few more napkins drawn at Megabites in Ft. Greene and Dizzy’s Diner in Park Slope.
On a side note, Dizzy’s Diner offers patrons a free cup of coffee with their purchase IF you can solve their riddles. The riddles change each day. Fun place! Happy New Year!
Life moves very fast. It rushes from Heaven to Hell in a matter of a second.
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 Dineron 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!
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.
Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower.
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.
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!
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.
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!
The leaves are changing and so am I, it would seem.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
Delving into Seattle’s History
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
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…
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.
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.
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.