whim·si·cal – an Unexpected Surprise

The assignment to draw a symbol of my second grade art girl didn’t feel like a good fit at first.

I loved the fact that the lesson was about embracing the part of you that wasn’t jaded by criticism and damaged by doubt, but I got tripped up on the word “whimsical” – which to me meant cutesy, girly, flowery, and well, not me.

I couldn’t see any way that I would be able to draw a ‘whimsical’ second grade dress based on my definition of the word.

Because I’m a perfectionist, I couldn’t just skip the lesson and I created my first version of the dress. I love it. It follows the guidelines, but is completely, completely mine. And not in the least bit whimsical – or so I thought.

My youngest son challenged my definition and whether or not the word might not describe me in at least some small way. He did so very cleverly, as he tends to do.

I looked it up and as it turns out, it’s not nearly as far off as I imagined, in fact there are parts of it that might even be spot on.

The Google definition:


playfully quaint or fanciful, esp. in an appealing and amusing way.
“a whimsical sense of humor”synonyms: fanciful, playful, mischievous, waggish, quaint, quizzical, curious, droll, fantastical, Seussian; eccentric, quirky, idiosyncratic, unconventional, outlandish, queer, fey; informal offbeat, freaky
“a whimsical sense of humor”

Huh – in many ways that describes both me and my style when it comes to drawing. (I’m not going to reveal which adjectives I think apply to me)

I was actually pretty nervous to share the drawing with the other women who are taking the class. I was afraid they wouldn’t like it because my approach is a bit different.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A few recent life’s lessons were reconfirmed.

People see us through a lens that is not filtered with self-doubt and full of limits. They see us in our full potential and sometimes even think of us in ways we’d never considered. And last, but certainly not least – the people who matter, accept us because of how we are different, not in spite of it.

There will be two versions of my second grade dress doodle, not because I didn’t like the first version – but because I did.

i am me - Doodle Art Dress

Embracing Your Second Grade Self

The last thing I expected when I started the Doodle Arts and Lettering class was for it to remind me of lessons I learned from the book Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. Lessons like the importance of staying in touch with your inner child.

It’s odd that as we “grow up” we lose the confidence and hope we had as children. Too often it’s replaced by fear of failure and self limitation. We forget to celebrate the little things and dwell over the mistakes we make for far too long. Many of us compare ourselves to others and let self-doubt hold us back from creating.

If we’re aware of it, it is possible to tap into the spirit we had as children and believe in ourselves and what we have to offer the world.

I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to the second lesson and drawing a whimsical dress to represent a second grade girl. My drawing style isn’t whimsical or cute and I was tempted to skip it. As it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t.

I was hooked as soon as the instructor explained the reason she wanted us to draw a symbol of a second grade girl. In second grade is that we had no fears or limitations, we just had some skills believed anything was possible. “Embrace your second grade self.” What an interesting idea not only in art, but in life.  The assignment might be to draw a whimsical dress, but the lesson is something completely different.

The first step was to create an entry with the phrase “I embrace my second grade art girl,” written in it.

I’m not sure why, but I knew that it would take me more than one attempt to complete this part of the lesson. Not because I was trying to be perfect, but there were three versions of the drawing inside of me.

Version 1:

embracing my second grade art girl_take one

Version 2:

I embrace my second grade art girl_version 2

Version 3 – in progress:

embracing my second grade art girl version 3_1

I painted the background blue and green for version 3. The purple background is for the next part of the lesson which is to complete the entire phrase.

“I embrace my second grade art girl—I know she’s in there somewhere—She’s the most Free Spirited I ever was in my Whole Life—She has skills—She is Playful, Fearless, Curious, Excited and Free — I am Her.”

A friend of mine always says that what I draw symbolizes something inside of me and I think that may be true. The past several months have had their challenges and it’s been difficult to remember to take time to look at life through childlike eyes.

The Doodle Arts lesson has been a good reminder that each step of the way I am gaining more confidence in myself and my future is bright. I’m now looking forward to drawing the dress. I don’t know how “whimsical” it will be, but I know it will be mine and I will embrace the symbol of my second grade self.

It’s been an Artistic Winter, but – Is it Spring Yet?

Holy buckets I’m tired of winter!

I will say that this winter has been very good for one aspect of my life. The long winter nights have been conducive to spending quality time with my ink journal. I’ve also joined a couple of artist’s groups on Facebook which has turned out to be both fun and inspiring.

I’ve met some great people and it’s fun to sign onto Facebook and see the latest ink journal entries, doodle art, and mixed media pieces. There are so many amazing artists in the world, it boggles my mind.

When I started drawing in my ink journal, I called each entry a ‘doodle.’ What I didn’t know or appreciate at the time is that doodles aren’t just the shapes someone draws on the edges of a notebook while they’re waiting for a boring meeting to end. Doodling is an art form and an excellent way for me to relax.

I learned about an online class called “Doodle Arts and Lettering” through one of my new Facebook groups. On a whim I registered, bought the supplies, and started the lessons.

Each lesson includes an extra doodle assignment at the end, the first one was to draw nature, specifically leaf inspired doodles.

leaf inspired black and white doodles

The drawings for each lesson will be completed in a journal. I’m using a small journal with watercolor paper. The assignment to create cover art was a little intimidating, but I’m pleased with how my cover turned out.

cover art_first journal_February 2014

I’m in love with the white ink that spells out the sentiment for the class, which is to “Let it Flow.”

An interesting and unexpected outcome of participating in the online groups is an increased feeling of confidence in my own artwork. It’s freed me to try new colors and combine techniques and to use real life as inspiration.

five daisies

Five white daisies morphed into four brightly colored abstract sunflowers bursting out of a green and blue background and framed by swirling purple curly cues. I guess that’s what one would call an interpretation. 🙂

dancing flowers_3

The bright yellow, blue, and purple sunflower bursts pop out of the background and remind me of creativity and ideas bursting out of an imaginative mind.

Participation in the groups and the online class has fueled my courage and my imagination to go beyond drawing flowers and experiment with new ideas.

This drawing started out as 4 wavy swooshes and it somehow turned into a psychedelic serpent or snake.

swirling serpent

I’m guessing it’s not what most people would expect to be on the page behind the “Let it Flow” cover, but it is and I think that’s quite cool.

Another interesting thing about keeping an ink journal is that I can’t wrinkle up and toss aside the drawings I start and don’t like. They stay in the pages of my journal and more than one of them have turned into pieces of art.

A failed attempt at a rose turned into a vivid blue sunflower bursting with life.

burst of life

An abandoned flower peeking out from the corner of the page gave life to ribbons of color and light.

Bursts of Color and Life

Last night, after a particularly stressful day, I created this hypnotic web of colors out of an “X’d” out center of circles. I’m not sure if it represents emerging from the eye of a storm or feeling like I’m caught in a web.

eye of the storm

It reminds one of my friends of the “Wheel of Fortune.” I like that image, maybe if I give it a big enough spin, my winter of flat tires, power outages, and car repairs will end and the Spring will be full of prosperity and joy.

Here’s to Spring!