Tag Archives: doodles

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.

IMG_9151

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

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.

 

Overcoming Artistic Blocks

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

Frog Sketch

Good Morning, All!

Feeling Blocked

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…

Quick doodle

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.

Unfinished Doodle

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.

My version of a Pigeon
My version of a Pigeon

 

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

-Pablo Picasso

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!

Cheers!

Mary