On first glance, my drawings are clearly narrative. What is often and easily missed is the very specific platform on which all of them are made. The drawings originate on vintage ‘doodle pad’ sheets from 20th century.
I collect and utilize these somewhat risqué novelty drawing pads. These mass-produced pads of paper feature incompletely drawn women (and occasionally men) with instructions to complete- or doodle in- the missing parts. And that’s what I do. As a lifelong fan of the art and craft of illustration, representational drawing, comics, and cartooning, I use pen and ink to complete the incomplete images to make them my own.
The practice of ‘repurposing’ items from the past is quite popular. We’ve all seen the cable TV shows and passed by boutiques that take old antique doors and turn them into coffee tables, or crafters who take old military artifacts and turns them into lamps. Giving new life to objects left for dead is fun, quirky, and often times environmentally considerate.
What I’m doing with these old sheets of paper is ‘purposing’ them. I’m doing exactly what the printers had in mind when they originally produced and distributed them. I like the idea that I’m doing this decades after they were made, after they’ve been sitting in drawers until someone decided to post them for sale on eBay or Etsy. Perhaps ‘retro-purposed’ would be a more appropriate term for what I’m doing with these old doodle pads.
Regardless of they’re called or how they originate, I’ve found them to be ideal for my creative process. When artist’s face a complete blank canvas or paper, they face that paradoxical problem of endless possibilities. Too many options can often be constraining.
I sidestep this with the help of my muse. I simply access that part of the brain that we use when we play the game of charades. “What could she be doing.” my mind asks. Ideas then flow. I mentally sift through them and make loose sketches to narrow down the options. Which would make a drawing that I’d want to make? What haven’t I done before? Maybe something funny, maybe macabre, or maybe I feel like challenging myself with some complex perspective angle. I get to draw it all..foliage, animals, technology, different eras of human history. That’s half the fun. It’s always the same challenge and always new and different.