Starting With Something Simple

The good news — well, I guess it’s good — is that I’m getting back to the studio. I’ve been thinking about picking up a paintbrush again, thinking about putting a bit of paint on a palette, thinking about painting clouds and skies, trees and rivers… you know, all those landscape elements that I love.

I haven’t gotten farther than the “thinking” part of the process though. 

I’ve also been thinking about the upcoming Sketchbook Revival 2023 workshop, and I am excited to get started. I didn’t make a sketchbook, but I have one ready. Maybe I will make one in the next few days — but not using the “upcycled book” technique suggested in the pre-presentation video. 

Again, I haven’t gotten farther than the “thinking” part. I have yet to listen to the second pre-presentation video. Maybe later today I will do that. Or, maybe not. 

What I have done is to re-familiarize myself with my studio a bit. It’s fun to look through all the art supplies I have, to remember different projects I’ve done in the past, and to imagine working on new projects in the future. 

And — ta-da! — I have successfully completed one simple little project. It was a fun way for me to ease myself into “doing a little art” again.  First, I’ll show you what I created, and then I’ll share a bit of the story behind it.

“Red Lady” Ink on Construction Paper

In the past, I would probably not have considered this “art”. It’s interesting (in my opinion, at least) but it’s not pretty.  It’s representative — you can tell it’s a face — but it’s not realistic. What it really is, though, and what in my mind makes it art is … it’s creative. I made deliberate creative choices in putting this simple scribble-drawing together.

A scribble-drawing. Yes, that’s what this is. I didn’t start off with the intention of drawing a lady. I didn’t begin with the intention of drawing anything recognizable. I started by scribbling.

But let me back up here for a moment and explain why I did this. 

I was browsing through Amazon’s book suggestions for me and came across an “art therapy” book intended for use with children. I have a deep interest in art therapy, and since my level of artistic ability is about that of an elementary-school child, I figured that the projects would probably not be too difficult. I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety — some from art, some from caring for our four darling cats, some from concerns for family — so the idea of possibly working through some of my emotions through easy art projects appealed to me. I downloaded the book.

For a while, I just looked at the book cover and thought about doing a project. Finally, one day I decided I was ready to try an art therapy exercise. It was simple enough. Scribble, Scribble. Scribble. And then after scribbling, just turn the scribbles into a drawing, or color in various shapes, or just add whatever you want to “decorate” it. 

Even if I can’t draw or paint very well, I can scribble with the best of them! I was excited for the project, and my mind quickly went into creative mode. I decided to use red construction paper. It’s left over from our Chinese Fortune Envelopes project. My next decision was to use a thick black Sharpie. For me, the red was a way of expressing a certain amount of anger beneath the surface, and I loved the red-and-black contrast. So, I gathered my paper and Sharpie, sat down, and started scribbling with no thoughts of creating anything specific. I just scribbled and it felt good. 

Now comes the tricky part. How could I transform my scribble into a drawing? Immediately I thought back to all the neurographic drawings I did in the past. While they were interesting and fun, they were also tiresome. I knew I certainly didn’t want to do that again! But I quickly saw a face, so I went with that.  Subconsciously I knew I was being influenced by this line drawing of Matisse:


Maybe you can see the influence, maybe not. I wasn’t trying to “copy” what Matisse had done, but as I continued transforming my scribbles, my thoughts did go to Matisse. 

Does this “Red Lady” have any emotional meaning behind it? Was I expressing anger at being a woman? Was I subconsciously revealing feelings of chaos, imperfection, and ugliness regarding the concepts of femininity? I don’t know. 

What I do know is that I enjoyed the project. Here’s why:

  • This project actually got me back to the studio
  • I made conscious creative decisions and liked the result
  • I successfully completed the project
  • I can see creative elements in the finished “drawing”

So, there’s my little art project for today. I hope you can, in some way, appreciate the creative spirit behind my “Red Lady”.


  1. Your “Red Lady” is fun and fascinating. I see other things in there: a cat’s head, a pointy “witches hat,” a pterodactyl, and lots of little eyes. Hooray for scribbling and doodling and the freedom to create mind- wandering art! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such an inspirational article. Coming back — or starting new — to a personal art form is not always easy. There’s always something else to do. Someplace else to be. But art is such wonderful therapy I wish everyone dabbled in it. Who cares if you get published/artwork sold/100,000 likes on FB. It feels good to express what’s going on with you (or others) with a pen, a paintbrush, or knitting needle. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a somewhat difficult relationship with art, and I think that’s something I’ll be exploring more in future “therapy” sessions. I’m creative, and I love colors, so there’s that, but I also have a lot of negative feelings I need to work through. It’s taken me a long time to see myself as “an artist”, but I’m still far from being the artist I want to be. I’m trying to reconcile “what is” with “what I wish”. That’s a challenge.


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