Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.
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 HEREto 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.
There was never a night or problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.
-Bernard Williams, philosopher
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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…
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.
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.
Something about making art has to do with overcoming things, giving us a clear opportunity for doing things in ways we have always known we should do them.
-David Bayles, coauthor of Art & Fear
Good Morning, All!
Sleeping late on a Friday is the biggest luxury on the planet, in my humble opinion. Woke up to some fresh Italian Roast coffee and opened my sketch book. I drew a blank. Had no idea where to begin. I have been so immersed in my Photography class this month that I feel like I forgot how to simply put a marker onto paper. I remember something my 2D design professor said about some artists feeling overwhelmed by the blank page or canvas. He mentioned how one artist would throw charcoal dust over his paper and then “draw” with an erasure in order to get started. So, I decided to not think about it too much and just draw a few lines. A half an hour later, a frog appeared.
The Importance of Scribbling and Unfinished Works
Every now and then though, I don’t have patience to sit for a half an hour to draw so I’ll end up with something like this…
It’s basically scribbling but I encourage you to get it out of your system so you get used to just the process of just starting. Not every line needs to be perfectly rendered. I created that one at Megabites last Sunday and even attempted a new doodle but never finished it.
How to Handle the Unfinished
The act of simply doing means you are still actively engaged in creating but maybe you are simply brainstorming. I have a tendency to leave my doodles behind but it’s good practice to hold onto all sketches, even the ones that disappoint you because it might evolve into something else that you haven’t considered.
To Keep or Not to Keep ‘Bad Art’
I remember sketching outside with an earnest attempt to capture the essence of a pigeon but I lacked some of the skills to really do it any justice. When I was younger, I would never dream of letting anyone see it but as I got older, I found a certain charm to it’s unique renderings. While I’m a fan of skill involved in realistic renderings of still lives (or in my case, not so still life), there’s something to be said about the “bad art”. The Dadists would have loved “bad art.” One of my older sisters has her Master’s in Fine Arts and she was a big believer in having Bad Art Days. We would try a new artistic medium without any expectation of knowing what we were doing. By calling it a Bad Art Day, we got rid of any fear or expectation of doing anything ingenious and sometimes our artwork would surprise us. So, in honor of all the “Bad Art” out there, here is my poorly drawn pigeon.
It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
Books Dealing with Artist’s Block
If you ever feel like you’ve felt blocked as an artist and couldn’t create anything, there is a great book called Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland which I can highly recommend. If you’d like to read a review on it, Click HERE!
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has always been my go to book to help me find my artistic direction, no matter how quirky. More on her HERE!
Now go get some art supplies you’ve been meaning to try and go play!