Zen and the Art of Doodling

I’ve always been a doodler—have you? I remember taking notes in high school and college and decorating the margins with nondescript squiggles, piles of squares, and a recurring cluster of grapes. I had no idea that doodling was anything more than something that kept me from being bored in classes and at meetings. Recently, however, I watched this TED talk about its value:

Just google the phrase “benefits of doodling,” and you’ll be astounded at the research that supports it as a powerful brain tool. Who knew?

zenspirations cover

Zenspirations: Letters & Patterning by Joanne Fink

So, after feeling confident with my painting effort (see previous post), I went to Michael’s to nose around the art section. That’s a couple of intimidating aisles! I spotted an end-cap display with some books that caught my eye. They all had to do with Zen and drawing or Zen and doodling. I picked one up, leafed through it, and saw the simple step-by-step instructions. “I can do this,” I told myself. So I bought the book and some fine-line Sharpies to get started. This is the book:

After reading the introduction and basics covered in the book, I started trying out some of the patterns and pieces that evening. I’d always had good handwriting, so the loops and swirls and lines looked like things I could manage. I had a spiral-bound blank journal to work with, so I opened my Sharpie, found a page with something kind of simple, and gave it a try. Here’s the first thing I finished:

first doodles3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seemed to need something, so I used the Copic markers to brighten things up a bit. (See previous post, Fun with Color, about my Copic class.) This is how it turned out:

first doodles4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was encouraged, but I knew I’d need to practice if I wanted to do some of the other pieces I liked. And I’d have to give myself permission to mess it up. That’s where the Zen of the art comes in. Check back next time and I’ll explore that topic with you.

Happy doodling, dear doodlers!

Grandma Moses Was Right…

…you’re never too old to take up art.

This year I surprised myself. I figured I was well-acquainted with all the corners of my weird little mind. But something lay hidden. It was probably under a rug embroidered with the words “stuff you can’t do.” Do you have a rug like that? Or an attic with a big, scary door and a sign that reads “Don’t even try to come in here.” Stowed away under dust and discouraging words, you just might find a surprise, too.

Almost a year ago, I was spending the winter in Florida and my aunt had come down for a short visit. One day we decided that we’d try out a new place nearby that offered “paint and sip” classes. The concept is that you bring a beverage (adult or otherwise) and the teacher provides all the painting supplies. Everyone paints the same picture, more or less. That night we were working on a colorful thing called the Whimsy Tree.

mcdonalds-Sweet-Tea-SmallAunt Sue and I showed up with our McDonald’s Buckets o’ Tea (really, what a deal for a buck!). We figured we’d need all our senses to complete this project. Neither of us had done much with acrylic paints before. It was an adventure in artistry! We watched the instructor and did what she did (kinda). Thanks to having lids on our iced tea, we never dipped our paintbrushes into our drinks, so there’s that. My main goal was to have a fun evening, not to paint a masterpiece. (Aunt Sue, bless her heart, had had shoulder surgery the month before, so she gave it her best. She’s usually very artistic! I was scared.)

whimsy treeWhich is why I was so surprised when my painting actually turned out to be something I might hang on a wall. I mean I was SURPRISED. And the instructor complimented me, which, all of us who live for the approval of others know, is the cherry on top. Here’s what I discovered:

  • I enjoyed learning a new skill.
  • I didn’t even think about how much the class cost afterward.
  • I felt proud of myself.
  • I looked forward to showing it to my husband and others.
  • Every time I look at it, it makes me happy. (Yes, I did hang it prominently in our dining area.)
  • I can do art. Like real ART.

And that got me started. Follow along and I’ll share my next piece of artsy serendipity! (With photos!)

 

Fun with Color

standard designer (3)

About a week ago, I spent eight hours in a classroom with twenty women. We colored. We shaded. We erased. And we did all of this with Copic® markers. When we were finished, each of us was certified as a Standard Copic Marker Designer. This means we are allowed to teach the techniques (the basics only) of using these very special markers. TEACH? Not yet. I still need a lot of practice before I feel adequate to teach anyone how to use them.

Here are a few key details:

  1. Choose the right paper. If paper is too porous, the blending can be muddy and you will use a lot more ink.
  2. This is more than coloring. This is more like painting—mixing colors, adding colors, saturating.
  3. Don’t be afraid to “mess up” the marker. They practically clean themselves!
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There’s a marker that ERASES boo boos!

Here are a few of the practice pieces I worked on.

flowergirlmouse cupmice tulip

 

Switching Crafts

If you’re like me, you enjoy doing more than one kind of craft. In the winter, I get busy with yarn and sewing crafts. In the summer, I do more outdoor projects. But all year long, I love doing papercrafts. It’s the only kind of crafting that I’ll find classes to take that help me learn how to do it better.

Last week, I went to an all-occasion cardmaking class at Archivers. Here’s a selection of the cards I made there:

archivers cards

I’ve been on a card-making craze ever since. I decided to make several different kinds of cards and then create a box for the set as a gift for my stepmother. It all started with butterflies and went on from there. The box is a pre-made wooden one I bought at Michael’s. I covered the bottom with red felt, so it won’t scratch any surfaces. Then I cut paper pieces for the top and some flower cutouts from the Secret Garden paper collection, and matching paper for the inside bottom. On the top I attached some 3-D butterflies. Here’s a look at how it turned out:

butterfly box

Then I made 10 cards to fill the box. The cards are of all sizes and shapes and themes. I wanted her to have lots to choose from. Here are two of them:

tulips and daisies

 

When the box was full, it was ready to be given. Dear Carol loved it! I think I’ll be doing this more often for friends and family as gifts. Now she’ll have some cards to choose from when she needs to share her wishes for a happy birthday, a thank you, a thinking of you, or a note of sympathy.

box o cards

I’ll be posting lots more card-making and paper-crafting ideas over the next few weeks. Check back often for some pretty photos—and some step-by-step “how to” directions!

Super-Easy Pet Cushion Project

We have a new member of the household. His name is Kirby—after tossing around dozens of names and circling back to the one that really describes what he does best, sucking up stuff on the floor and making it disappear. He’s a Pekingese and an Easter baby. Yep, the Easter bunny brought this little fellow on April 8. (Which just happens to be MY BIRTHDAY, too, and was too much of a cosmic coincidence for me to ignore.) Having a little pocket pet offers all kinds of crafting opportunities, including the creation of costumes and outfits that he’d be mortified to wear if he had just an ounce of self-awareness. In due time, my little puppy, in due time.

I’m starting with more basic projects, however. He’s being crate-trained, as most household dogs are, and I can’t stand the thought of his little puppy underparts lying on the cold, hard, plastic, cookie-sheet-shaped, slide-out base of the cage. I also don’t want to give up any of my good towels. Here’s a chance to use my crafty brain to cook up something simple, yet wonderful.

I scavenge through the house, looking in drawers, closets, and my sewing area. Voilà! I spy some oldish pillowcases whose matching sheets have long since been used for dust covers in the garage. A little feminine, yes, but he’s a modern pup—it’s all about recycling. I take the first pillowcase to my sewing station, flatten it on my cutting board, and unroll a batch of batting. Using the pillowcase as my pattern, I cut a folded (doubled) piece of batting about an inch smaller around the edges than the pillowcase. Then I insert the doubled piece inside and pin the four layers flat. Using a larger stitch than normal, but not a full basting stitch, I sew around the perimeter of the pillowcase, securing the batting.

That’s it! All done! It is the perfect size to fit inside the doggie crate, and it’s pretty, cushiony, and so washable. I’ll make 3 or 4 so I can rotate them between wash days. Kirby doesn’t even mind the darling little ruffle on the end. See? He’s just happy his owner is such a crafty lady.