By Joan Birsh
I’m a confessed doodler. Armed with a pencil and paper, I’ve been able to transform coronavirus days of “nothing to do” into a time of joyful artistic activity.
I became a serious doodler, when from 2009 to 2014 I served on the Board of ORCA (Ocean Reef Community Association). I survived the meetings on sewage treatment, road repair, county taxes, etc. by doodling, which protected me from terminal boredom and also kept me alert to everything that was being discussed. (There’s scientific proof that doodling makes you more attentive.)
At the end of my ORCA term I had accumulated a hoard of little penciled drawings in notebooks and on odd slips of paper. Then one day it occurred to me that I could paint or color my doodles.
One of the first of my “Doctored Doodles” focused on an imaginary cat head that I created at the 2008 Annual Meeting, chaired by the then ORC Director Ron Elenbaas. I sent the painted doodle to him and his genuine appreciation encouraged me to go on playing with my doodles, sending them as gift cards, birthday greetings, post cards.
When did I decide to paint 4 pairs of boots, 35 pairs of eye glasses, 2 leather handbags and 20 small heart pendants?
The boots came first. I was inspired by a pair of designer boots ($4000) featured in The Wall Street Journal. I dug in my closet and found some boots so old the leather was flaking. I got out my acrylic paints and without a pattern I just doodled on them, covering almost every surface. Except for the flaking,= the boots were really nice and I got compliments everywhere I wore them.
My painted eye glasses were inspired by an ad for Prada sunglasses. The design was so simple, just slashes of red, white and black, that I immediately thought “Hey, I can do that.”
Where will it all end. I keep finding things I want to paint. Jewelry boxes, trays, folding tables, hair ornaments, Christmas tree decorations, a golf cart. My husband Arthur has drawn the line – I’m not to even think about painting his substantial bald spot.
Recently my friend Martha Forelli told me she and two friends were meeting at an outdoor space at Gail Noyes home to do Zentangle. The group included Nancy Rohan, who gave a class in Zentangle at the Art League.
What is Zentangle? I learned it is more structured than Doodling, where I simply let some mysterious part of my brain guide my hand. Zentangle involves drawing patterns with combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S curves and orbs on small pieces of paper called “tiles.” Then the tiles are assembled into mosaics. Voila! Zentangle Art.
Whether you choose to Doodle or try Zentangle or just sketch some of the interesting things in your house or yard, remember it’s not the result but the process. So have fun and let it happen!