When you’re growing up, you always envy kids around you with talents or skills you don’t have but you WISH you had. For me, it wasn’t necessarily the pretty ones or the sporty ones or the smart ones…it was the artistic kids that got my envy.
(The artistic kids, AND the ones who could sing ever since my classmate told me, during mass when I was in 3rd grade, “You know, you really can’t sing that well. But you sing LOUD. I just thought I’d let you know it doesn’t sound that great.”)
The kids who could draw or paint or doodle or sketch – those kids were always the ones I envied the most. I don’t really know why, other than the fact that I constantly wanted to be drawing something cool. I had a daycare friend who drew really cute cartoonish people and I basically taught myself to mimic her drawings (they’re weren’t that hard, technically) and spent hours of every day just drawing her people all over everything. And that wasn’t the first time. If anyone drew something fun/cute/interesting but it didn’t require much actual skill? I would adopt it as my own and doodle it on everything. I have a whale in my arsenal and this bubbly alien character and a puffball creature…none of which are mine but that I became adept at drawing anyway.
And that was the closest I could ever come to being “good” at drawing. Finding skills other people had that were not outside my abilities, and just copying them.
I would try to take that minimal ability and turn it into something interesting of my own, but my abilities were not that great and my creativity not that strong. I was good at copying, that was about it. And I did it constantly. I would even copy some of the cartoons in the newspaper if I thought my abilities were adequate. I drew Garfield or Ziggy…anyone that required minimal shading or “realness” – I would spend hours with those characters, trying to learn them.
But never was I able to create anything of my own.
The older I got, the less I copied and mainly just spent hours doodling. Sometimes it was while on the phone (Dad had a notepad by the phone that I would just doodle on constantly) and sometimes it was in class. From the time until I was in middle school until I graduated college, not a school notebook went by without at least one page of swirly sunshines or lettering and lines on it. That was the extent of my “skill” – the swirl. And I doodled it on everything. But whether you looked at a notebook from English in 7th grade, or a notebook from Remote Sensing my last year of college, there was no increase in skill. It was still the same swirls done in different colors and around different words. Nothing that was ever going to amount to anything and no skill that improved over time.
I adore those “Paint and Drink” classes that are popular now. We have one business in town that is pretty popular – “Spirited Art” – and I’m pretty good at those classes. I have JUST enough skill to follow instructions and copy other work, just like when I was a kid. But you know the ones I find myself drawn to the most? The swirly trees. I have one hanging in my foyer, one in my kitchen, and one in my office. The swirly trees appeal to my school-notebook-doodling heart.
It’s a weird thing but I find it really cathartic to go to those classes. During my last failed pregnancy, when I was restricted from all exercise and couldn’t drink, I went to SEVERAL of those paint classes. I needed the therapy and without running or boot camp or beer – I found those damn swirly trees to be a close replacement.
The only problem is that those classes are $35 or more each. That’s an expensive therapy session and NOT covered by insurance.
But I woke up this morning at 2:45am and found myself antsy and restless and just tense. And part of me just thought, “Why don’t we swirl it up with some doodles in a notebook? We haven’t done that since college!”
And I did. And it was weirdly therapeutic. It didn’t help me go back to sleep because my brain was already like, “This is too close to your wakeup time! We can’t sleep!” But it did put me in a kinda fun mindset. I’ll never been an artist, but maybe I should add doodling to my bullet journal habits just as a form of therapy. Just keep one page of swirls going until it’s full.
What about you? Are you a doodler?