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:

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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:

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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!)