Different Strokes

I’m not much of a TV viewer, so while I’m aware that there was once a program called Different Strokes, I’m not familiar with it. I am familiar, though, with Everyday People, a funky tune from Sly and the Family Stone back in 1969.

“There is a blue one who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on…”

Please take a moment to listen to this awesome little song! It doesn’t matter, really, what your musical tastes are. This is a real “feel good” song, all but guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The whole point about “different strokes for different folks” is the realization that while we’re all unique, different individuals, we’re also very much the same under it all.

I was singing this little tune — yes, out loud — while I dabbled with a little watercolor doodle Monday afternoon. It was a quiet evening. My husband and a grandson were out in the yard doing a bit of work. Earlier I’d painted a very loose little watercolor. Now, I’d grabbed my gel pens and ink pens and was ready to have fun with doodling.

Right now, I’m probably going to be doing a lot of doodling. It’s a quiet activity — except for my singing, that is — and it’s a relaxing, unwinding way of doing art. It’s somewhat of a mindless approach, yet in other ways it’s quite the opposite, a very mindful method of creating. I guess it depends, really, on how we choose to look at it.

Here’s the little painting I made:

Watercolor Doodling (3)
Five Flowers — Watercolor Doodle

I made this by first creating a colorful pastel background with a few watercolors. Once it was dry, I made blobs that would later become flowers. I added a few stems with green and allowed it all to dry again.

And then as Monday afternoon gradually turned to Monday evening, I picked up my little box of pens and got comfortable at the kitchen table.

What sort of doodles should I make? I knew that I wanted each flower to be a little bit different, so even though they’re mostly the same — same color, same number of petals — I looked for ways to make different strokes. In the end, I really loved the blossom on the lower left — the petals filled with dots and circles — and another favorite was the upper right bloom with its sort-of scalloped edges.

I sat there singing about “different strokes for different folks”, and I thought about the rest of the lyrics from the song. There are lots of colors in the song. The blue one doesn’t like the green one; the yellow one won’t accept the black one who doesn’t like the red one or the white one, and sure, I know the meaning behind all of this. I’m not intending for this to become a “preachy post”, but there is an important message here.

At the same time, I can see that message not only in terms of our relationships with one another, but as inspirations in our pursuit of art. We’re everyday people, and there’s nothing wrong with making everyday art.

It’s fine to be serious about our art at times. There’s nothing wrong with planning and preparing, nothing wrong with wanting to do our best work. But on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong — and oh, so much right — about everyday art.

You know the kind I’m talking about. The watercolor doodles. The comical little figures we like to draw. The playful little gesture drawings we love to scribble.

In a recent post, I compared my new art studio to a “Planet Fitness” for my art body. When we “work-out”, it’s always good to begin with “warm-ups” — and this idea has been coming at me from a variety of sources.

While watching a watercolor doodle video, the artist talked about her doodles being part of her “morning warm-up” routine. Earlier today, I visited My Life as an Artist,  an incredible art blog by watercolorist Janet Weight Reed. Her post for the day included lots of important tips, the first of which is this:

WARM UP – using newspaper, envelopes, wall paper lining, but warm up.

Thank you, Janet, for sharing this tip, and I hope readers will follow the link to Janet’s blog to take a look at her magical watercolor art. She’s also sharing a few thoughts and exercises on “starting from scratch” and learning to loosen up and have fun with watercolor. Just what I need! I’m grabbing newsprint, spreading it out, and doing lots of watercolor warm-ups.

Just as in piano we need to do little warm-up drills to master five-finger positions, thumb crossings, legato, staccato, and other technical skills, we need art warm-ups, too. Just as in writing it’s beneficial to “prime the pump” with a bit of free-writing each day, it’s helpful in art to loosen up with a bit of “free-painting” or scribbling, or doodling, or playing with chalks, crayons, pastels, colored pencils — whatever!

So I’m ready to start playing this morning. I want to play with different strokes. I want to doodle, draw, scribble, scumble, and bumble my way through the morning. I want to be an everyday artist making lots of everyday art.




    1. Thanks! I’m getting ready to start my “daily doodles” and “watercolor warm-ups” before moving on to other artistic endeavors. Might have to do a bit of laundry in there somewhere, too. Oh, and straightening up in the studio. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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