Extreme Doodling is not doodling whilst snowboarding down the lava doused slopes of an erupting volcano. It’s a tad more sedate than that. It’s doodling with purpose.
Like my previous post about abstract doodling, this exercise is mindful and relaxing.
Simply take your pen or pencil and take it for a stroll around the page.
Don’t think about it. Just spiral around, looping up and down, over and under, without lifting your pen off the page.
Next, (this is the ‘purpose’ part), fill in the shapes that you have created. As you can see above, I have used similarly spaced lines at varying angles, but you could fill each shape with a different design or pattern, as below.
Something like this would lend itself to being filled in with colour – felt tips, pencil crayon, watercolour…
You could even add more geometric elements to it.
There’s no right or wrong.
Nor is there any pressure on it having to be any ‘good’. By ‘good’ we usually mean in the eyes of others. Or, worse still – by yourself!
This is for you.
For you to spend some time relaxing whilst doing art.
It is the process not the result.
I could go on – I’ve got millions of the little blighters. But you get the idea.
I usually do them when I’m out and about and having to wait for something or someone (hence them always being black and white). So it’s a great way to pass time and not get frustrated about having to hang about.
Anyhoo, thank you so very much for taking the time to read/look at my blog. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Here’s a little abstract doodling exercise that anyone can do.
Simply divide a page of your sketchbook up into four with masking tape. (Don’t use cello tape as it will tear the paper when you remove it.)
Next, take a pencil and randomly scribble around the four boxes. Then, do the same with a felt tip pen.
For the colour, I used a combination of oil and chalk pastels. (Mainly oil.) But you could use watercolour paint, acrylic, markers – whatever you feel like using. Just don’t try to think about it too much. Let your subconscious do the work.
Remember, this exercise is about the process of doing art as a mindfulness activity, not the result.
You don’t have to divide your page into four. Do as few or as many shapes as you want.
When you feel you’ve finished, gently peel off the masking tape and – Ta-daaahhh! Behold your masterpiece. Guaranteed to give you a little dopamine hit. (The pleasure/reward chemical in your brain.)
It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s extremely relaxing and gratifying.
Your finished work may not get hung in the Tate Modern, but that was never the objective in the first place. Doing art for its own sake and the mental wellbeing it brings was.
If you’ve ever done it before you’ll know that you can get some really cosmic patterns. You’ll also know that you’ve probably got more leftover samples of the stuff than you can shake a big shaky thing at.
So … what to do with all those cosmic castoffs … I know, let’s make a collage.
Start by cutting out shapes from your marbling masterpiece that you want to use in your composition and glue them onto a piece of paper.
Next, sketch in the rest of the composition. Add a bit of a felt tip outline.
I filled in the background with chalk pastel, but you could easily use felt tip, watercolour paint, pencil crayon or coloured paper.
And there you have it – you’ve made art out of art.
There is one other thing…
And, it’s probably the best bit. But I didn’t realise that until it was too late. Instead of cutting the shapes out of your marbling sample willy-nilly like I did, cut them out in the same position that you’re going to stick them on your paper. That way, when you position them next to each other you get a sort of positive/negative effect.
Hindsight? Serendipity? Whatever.
If you haven’t done marbling before you can use off-cuts of old patterned wallpaper, pictures from magazines or gift wrap paper. Or even paint an abstract background and use that.
It’s one more thing to do until the schools reopen in September!
If you want loads more of art activities to do you can sign up to Arc’s free ‘Keeping us together‘ programme. They email you a different art activity every week. (Arc is a brilliant Arts charity based in Stockport.)
And remember, folks – Art is Medicine*!
*Do not swallow art like medicine. It might kill you.
**I am not a trained physician.
***’Art is medicine’ is only my opinion and not a scientific fact.
Lockdown, quarantine, isolation, call it what you will. A lot of people are at the end of their tethers thinking of things to occupy this abundance of time they suddenly find that they have.
Here’s a little activity for adults and children alike. I stole it from a very talented artist called Jodie Silverman. You can have a look at her amazing work by clicking on her name.
Okey dokey, first off, draw around each of your hands on separate sheets of A4 paper.
Next, on one of the hands, (doesn’t matter which you choose), write all of the things you want to keep in your life. Basically, all of the good things that make you happy.
On the other hand, write down all of the negative things you want to let go of. Things that get you down. Things that are holding you back.
Once you’ve filled your hands with positives and negatives, it’s time to start decorating them!
There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Use watercolours, felt tips, acrylics, pastels, collage, whatever you feel comfortable with. And whatever you have lying around the house.
You could do an intricate pattern, something abstract or something more realistic like plants and flowers. Let your emotions about the words on each hand guide what comes out onto the paper.
And, what’s the point of all of this?
Well, doing any kind of art is relaxing and meditative. It focuses the mind and helps you to stay in the moment.
It’s reflective; by contemplating what makes you happy and what doesn’t, you are taking a conscious, positive step toward leading a more fulfilled life.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be all heavy, philosophical stuff. If you wanted to do it with the kids you could ask them to write down what they like/dislike about homeschooling or lockdown in general.
Who knows, you might learn something about yourselves along the way.
Here’s a fun (yes, fun) writing game for kids and growed ups alike.
First off, draw around your hand.
No, the other one. The one you don’t write with.
Next, you’re going to write a word in each finger.
Think of an object, (such as a lamp, table, doll, trombone, necklace etc), and write it in your pinky finger. Don’t think too hard about it, whatever pops into your mind.
Think of a colour. Write that in your ring finger.
Name a place. Could be a town, a country or somewhere specific, like a treehouse. Write that in your middle finger. (And, don’t show the middle finger to your parents.)
Think of a shape. (Circle, triangle, hexagon, sphere, etc.) Write that in your index finger.
Finally, think of an emotion. (Happy, content, isolated, frustrated, sad, etc.) Write that in your thumb.
Now for the writing exercise.
Write a paragraph that incorporates all of the words you have written in your digits.
They don’t have to be in the order that you have written them down.
And don’t overthink it. Just let it flow. The sillier and more surreal the better.
Once you’ve finished, read out your five things then read your paragraph.
As you can see in the example above, there are three completely different paragraphs using the same five words.
You might be wondering why there are two hands in the picture above. Well, because you can play it with a family member, (if they are in quarantine with you), or you can just overlap your own hand over your previous drawing and colour in the shapes that overlapping them makes.
So, there you go. That should take up about 15 minutes of their day!
Well, they could use the paragraph as a springboard to a longer piece of prose. Or, like the example, they could do several variants using the same words.
It’s good for creativity, prose, composition, spelling, punctuation, grammar and comprehension. (But don’t tell the kids this, or they won’t want to do it!)
Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.
There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.
It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!
Right, I’m going for a lie down.
Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:
1 My daughters
5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils
8,9 Butterflies and moths
10, 11 Softball and baseball
12 Fresh coffee
13 Sound / masts
14 Indoor toilets
15 Stepping Hill Hospital
16 Birds of Paradise
17 Roget’s thesaurus
18 Mother Earth
19 Clingfilm dispenser
20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy
22 Jorge Luis Borges
23 Classic cars
25 Tim Berners Lee
26 Charles Bukowski
30 Katell Keineg
31 Tao Te Ching
32 A roof over my head
33 Peat fires
34 Street art
35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)
36 Wilfred Owen
37 The Penguin Café Orchestra
38 The fry-up
40 W.B. Yeats
41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry
46 Refuse collectors
47 Candy Chang
49 The tomato
50 Studio Ghibli
51 Oliver Jeffers
52 Johannes Gutenberg
53 Tom Waites
54 The cello
55 Mothers’ day
56 The Phoenicians
57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce
60 Fish and chips
66 Raymond Carver
68 The Goldfinch
69 Wings of Desire
71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning
100 Talking Heads
101 Sylvia Plath
102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park
103 My mum
105 Kurt Vonnegut
129 The pop man
148 Commando magazine
150-156 Social media
157 David Bowie
231 Graphic Design
232 Viva! Roxy Music
233 – 274 Art
275 Betty Blue
277 Joy Division
278 – 287 Scotland
288 – 324 Italy
325 – 352 Photography
353 Leeds Utd
357 Pan’s Labyrinth
358 – 363 Democracy
365 My daughters II
If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)
Not many posts to go now before I complete my 365 things to be grateful for so I shall have to be selective.
It’s been a while since the once mighty Leeds United gave me anything to be grateful for. We’ve been languishing in the lower leagues since 2004. Scandalous really, when you think about the size of the club.
Leeds United is the benchmark for how not to run a football club. And the new owner, convicted tax dodger, Massimo Cellino doesn’t appear to be fairing any better. We’re already on our fourth manager this season.
But one can’t simply change one’s allegiances because the team is going through a sticky patch. Admittedly, a decade-long sticky patch.
Supporting a football team – or any team for that matter – is an act of basic tribalism. And, as we all know, a tribe is for life, not just for Christmas. So we have to take the rough with the smooth. God knows we’ve had our fair share of rough. Even more than Wayne Rooney.
Most of Leeds United’s success came in the late 60s and early 70s before I started watching them in the mid 1970s, just as they began to decline. Though, I did get to see them win the old first division title in 1992 before it changed to the Premier League.
To pay homage to that team, I have to give mention to our outstanding midfield quatro of: the combatant David Batty in the middle, partnered by the graceful Gary McAllister. On the right, the feisty and mesmerising Gordon Strachan and the on the left wing, the beguiling Gary Speed. (May the gods rest his soul.)
We won the league title three times in ‘69, ’74 and ’92.
Won the FA Cup in 1972 thrashing Arsenal 1-0. Alan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke scoring the only goal.
Won the League Cup in ’66. (Beating Arsenal 1-0.)
Won the Charity Shield in ’69, ’74 and ’92.
Lost 2-0 in the final of the European Cup in 1975 against Bayern Munich. Though we did have two penalty appeals turned down and a goal disallowed even though the ref initially gave it, then changed his mind after a lot of badgering from Franz Beckenbauer.
Billy Bremner being a perfect role model.
Won the UEFA cup in ’68 and ’71. Beating Hungarian team, Ferencváros and Italy’s Juventus respectively.
Lost 1-0 to A.C. Milan in the ’73 final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.
Champions League semi-finalists in 2001.
We’ll have to wait patiently until a chairperson with integrity and vision comes along to change the fortunes of the great Leeds United. And come it will, one day.
Meanwhile, here are some of their highlights.
1968-69 First Division champions
1973-74 First Division champions
1991-92 First Division champions
1964-65 First Division runners-up
1965-66 First Division runners-up
1969-70 First Division runners-up
1970-71 First Division runners-up
1971-72 First Division runners-up
1923-24 Second Division champions
1963-64 Second Division champions
1989-90 Second Division champions
1927-28 Second Division runners-up
1931-32 Second Division runners-up
1955-56 Second Division runners-up
2009-10 League One runners-up
1972 FA Cup winners
1965 FA Cup finalists
1970 FA Cup finalists
1973 FA Cup finalists
FOOTBALL LEAGUE CUP
1968 Football League Cup winners
1996 Football League Cup finalists
1969 FA Charity Shield winners
1974 FA Charity Shield runners-up
1992 FA Charity Shield winners
FA YOUTH CUP
1993 FA Youth Cup winners
1997 FA Youth Cup winners
1974-75 European Cup finalists
1969-70 European Cup semi finalists
1992-93 European Cup second round
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
2000-01 Champions League semi finalists
EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS CUP
1972-73 European Cup-Winners Cup finalists
INTER CITIES FAIRS CUP/UEFA CUP
1967-68 European Fairs Cup winners
1970-71 European Fairs Cup winners
1966-67 European Fairs Cup finalists
1965-66 European Fairs Cup semi finalists
1968-69 European Fairs Cup quarter finalists
1971-72 UEFA Cup first round
1973-74 UEFA Cup third round
1979-80 UEFA Cup second round
1995-96 UEFA Cup second round
1998-99 UEFA Cup second round
1999-00 UEFA Cup semi finalists
2001-02 UEFA Cup third round
2002-03 UEFA Cup third round
1920-24 Second Division
1924-27 First Division
1927-28 Second Division
1928-31 First Division
1931-32 Second Division
1932-47 First Division
1947-56 Second Division
1956-60 First Division
1960-64 Second Division
1964-82 First Division
1982-90 Second Division
1990-92 First Division
1992-2004 FA Premier League
2007-10 League One
Record all-time goalscorer : Peter Lorimer 238
Record appearances in league matches : Jack Charlton 629
Record all-time appearances : 773 Jack Charlton/Billy Bremner
Or, Pétanque as they call it in the South of France.
If you’ve never played it before, it’s a bit like bowls, except you throw the ball underarm rather than roll it. The person whose ball is closest to the little wooden jack takes the points.
I love to have a game or two when I’m on holiday in France. The clack of metal against metal, plumes of ochre dust as your boule comes crashing down onto an opponent’s, the erratic run of the jack on a gravelly surface…
Maybe it’s because I’m a bit lazy that this genteel art appeals to me. If you can’t hold a glass of rosé in your hand whilst playing a sport, I’m not really interested. That said, I did once whup my brother at tennis while drinking a can of lager and smoking a fag.
I first took up softball in Ireland back in 1992 when I was 28 and played for about 10 years. I absolutely loved it.
For about 9 of those years I played for a team called The Thirteen Threes. (Named after the 13.3 second world record for running around a baseball diamond.) I actually did it in 13.1 seconds. No, seriously. But that was on a softball diamond which is about 30 yards shorter.
For the last year, I played for our arch nemesis – The Troops. But, to be fair, a lot of my mates played for them.
The highlight of the season was the summer cup competitions which were held over the weekend, either in Cork or Galway. For teams like us, it was just an excuse for a major piss-up. And it never failed to disappoint.
I was lucky enough to play shortstop for most of my softballing days. And saw myself very much like this…
How I see myself playing softball.
I suspect this was closer to reality…
How I actually play softball.
As I said, I loved playing the game, not just for the sport, but because of the team spirit and camaraderie, and the innumerable wonderful people I met whilst playing it.
Could’ve done without breaking most of my pinkies though. The worst was a double fracture and dislocation sliding into second base. Still, not as bad as having my palate fractured from taking a ball in the mouth. Or having my nose shattered for a similar reason. Both of which happened to teammates.
For that, I am truly grateful.
I got into watching baseball as a result of playing softball. Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch it on TV over in the UK. (Not sure why American Football deserves that much more coverage.) So I buy the odd DVD or watch clips on YouTube and imagine I’m the one getting the triple play. (I use a hairbrush as a microphone on weekends.)
This was the Thirteen Threes in Cork in about 1993. That’s me, fag in hand, dipping under the railing. Not sure where I’m going. It certainly wasn’t onto the pitch as we were spectators. I think we might’ve actually been watching The Troops in the final. (We were all mates.)
From left to right: I think that’s Al O’Donohoe (with his sweet cheeks to camera), Peter somebody (he was new), John Flynn (the gaffer), Briain Wright, Ian Doherty, yours truly, Bernadette Dooley, Tony Purcell and Liz Flynn. No idea who the geezer is on the far right. So many more teammates not in this shot who I am still close friends with today.