Ugly & Beautiful

Doodle Days, 2020

Share all you want, steal the “logo”–no worries, no copyright.

I have never been good enough for Inktober.

I’m not a trained artist. I won’t spend money on professional ink. Visual arts are a hobby for me, not a vocation, and I don’t maintain any illusions about my talent or prospects.

So this year, I wasn’t planning to do it. I really don’t have time, what with homeschooling–or, I do, but it’s time I should devote to writing, exercising, playing with my pets and children. But then I learned that the Inktober guy had muddied the whole event a bit with lawsuits over the term “Inktober” and its logo and that people weren’t super pumped about it this year, anyway. Lots of alternatives have popped up, many of them highly themed.

Well, I thought, who needs it? I’ll draw what I want.

But it was fun to keep up with a challenge. Even more fun when people would “like” my posts on Instagram… pity likes or not, I will take them. It’s fun to share your work with others, even if it sucks. Sometimes it’s fun to say, “Look how badly this turned out!” and revel in your own mistakes–for me, anyway. (I mean, sometimes things are so bad they’re hilarious. I think there’s a whole TV show dedicated to bakers who can’t make it work–right? And my sense of humor is nothing if not self-deprecating.)

I know this isn’t necessarily true for the pros. I know that when I read a terrible piece of writing, I have a harder time appreciating the amazing feat that the writer accomplished just in doing it than I used to. The kid in creative writing class who wants a Pulitzer for his haiku–that’s probably me in the art world.

I don’t want to be annoying. I do want to draw. Not because I’ll ever be a great artist, but because I enjoy it. When I commit a certain portion of my day to visual art, I light up parts of my brain that make me feel better about myself, about my family–about everything. And I could use some of that right now.

So here’s my own drawing challenge. Join me if you will. No talent required, no specific materials must be used. My kids helped me come up with the prompt list and a few times I called to my husband, “What’s a silly word?” Post them on Instagram with #DoodleDays2020 or keep them to yourself–your choice. But join me in doodling if you like.

Goals & Challenges

Inktober Recap

IMG_20171020_165331.jpgI made it through Inktober. I did 31 drawings. A lot of them were extremely lazy or really poorly done, and if you look at the work some other artists did over the course of the month (“other artists,” she says, as if she could possibly count herself among their ranks), even my best work looks like chicken scratch. Continue reading “Inktober Recap”

Goals & Challenges


“Sister? Did you use all the pumpkin spice?”

Have you heard of Inktober? I hadn’t until a couple days ago, when some of my friends started posting drawings and hashtagging them #Inktober and I was like, what? Me too, me too! Because I’m a copycat like that. You can be, too. Continue reading “Inktober”

Ugly & Beautiful


IMG_20170623_135811Do you doodle? I remember my mom making these elaborate doodles of shapes and flowers and leaves on the margins of whatever paper she found lying around–usually when she was on the phone, I think–and thinking they were incredible, but whenever I would try to doodle I felt kind of silly, like it was a waste of time or effort to draw without really drawing. Well, the other day I was in a fairly stressful situation–I had to wait about an hour to go into a meeting that I’d been anticipating for weeks, maybe months–and so I got out my notebook and started to draw. At first I drew one of my usual comics–myself in a funny version of the current situation–but while I made myself chuckle, it really only served to amplify my nerves. So instead of drawing another comic, I drew a heart. And then a another heart around it. And then I thought, I’ll make this a paisley. And before I knew it, my mind emptied of my current situation and focused entirely on the few square inches of paper upon which I was doodling. Soon enough, I was called into my meeting, and I didn’t feel stressed out at all.

I think this is why adult coloring books are so popular. It gives you something to focus on, something completely meaningless but difficult enough that you have to devote your attention to it. I’ve tried coloring those detailed drawings while watching TV and I always end up outside the lines, even with the sharpest pencil. And mostly, I’ve used adult coloring books or doodles as a way simply to pass the time–my life is not filled with the kind of anticipatory stress I felt the other day–but when I really had something to take my mind off of, boy did doodling work. Next time I can’t sleep because I’m obsessing about something, you can bet I’ll doodle my brains out.