Last April, I made a commitment to doodle, draw or paint everyday for a year just to see what would happen. I was trying to give myself something creative to focus on in order to move away from my mindset at the time. It had been a difficult year, full of loss and illness. I declared the coming year to be "no more of that" and "full of joy instead."
I wasn't new to drawing daily or drawing prolifically. I'd been an artist most of my life and observing and drawing what was around me was a big part of that identity. But I felt cut off from any creative impulse. I didn't have any desire to pick up a pencil, pen or paintbrush and make art. This, too, felt like a profound loss.
Maybe that would change, I thought, if somehow I just got started making art again.
At first, it just gave me something positive to do. I didn't feel any real emotion or connection to what I was putting down on paper. Any subject was okay. The only objective was to stay the course and do it, whether I felt like it or not.
This was my first drawing, dated April 19, 2019. There would be many days ahead when I didn't feel at all like doing something this elaborate. But, for the first couple of weeks, I stayed with each doodle for quite sometime.
I wasn't too connected emotionally to drawing until other things started to come into my life, like painting Vandoodle. Then I started to feel like I truly had some new joy in my life to express through my drawings. This made the daily drawing less of a chore and more inspired. I went on my first camping/drawing trip in Vandoodle in May.
At some point, I got so involved in painting Vandoodle, I got behind in my daily drawings and almost quit. Instead, I altered my commitment. As long as I did 365 in a year, I would consider it good. That allowed me to get behind sometimes and catch up with multiple doodles in a day. In case you are wondering, I'm about 8 drawings behind at the moment.
I got bored at some point with my sharpie pen and decided to add a little color with paint. Little did I know what was going to happen after that.
I felt, finally, the desire to paint again - partly because once I added some color (to my life too), it became more fun. Fueled by a new relationship that happened as a result of tooling around in Vandoodle (don't even TRY and tell me everything's not connected!), the doodles became design thumbnails for larger paintings. The feelings and the paintings got larger and more expressive as did my joy in creating them.
The summer of 2019 was quite a shift in perspective for me. I joined 1,000 other van campers at "Descend on Bend" over Labor Day weekend and took my paints with me. There is no way my drawings capture the magic of that time but they do remind me of what can happen when you find a little bravery to step outside your comfort zone and explore something new. I do not want to forget this lesson.
And now what?
It's December and I'm still painting large. Today, because I reminded myself above that I'm a little behind in my doodles, I'll do some of that. I'm so amazed at where this journey has taken me so far, I'm not about to give up on it.
I hope if there's something you long to do and can't seem to get started on, that this story helps you understand you don't need to know where the road will take you, you just need to start walking on your path and more will be revealed.