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An Old Notebook

The other day I came to the end of number twenty-two of my little black books and put it on the shelf. In making room for the new book I pulled out number fifteen, dated January 12, 1996 to November 19 of the same year. I was taking Margaret (Bunny) Gabel's course on Writing for Children at the New School. Each week Bunny would read a student's work out loud and the class would respond. Every week she wrote a wonderful quote on the board, and I copied them into my book.

Here's one:

"If an artist of any kind sits around waiting for inspiration he'll have a very small body of work. Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it." Madelyn L'Engle

"If the artist, in whom the crowd believes, dares to declare he does not understand what he sees, that alone comprises deep knowledge in the domain of thought and a good step ahead." Anton Chekhov

"Good writers and painters, I suspect, compliment their audience by expecting the best of them. The responding thrill of understanding is what art is all about." Roger Angell, writing about William Steig in the New Yorker.

When I was in school I had a terrible time keeping my mind in the classroom--it was always out the window. But as an adult, I found a way to keep my mind engaged, and it was through my hand.

Doodling! Maybe I should give the practice a more dignified name because it enabled me to succeed in a way I never had before.

Here are some samples.

Notebook, sketchbook, doodles. random blue

Notebook, sketchbook, doodles, sepia and white

Notebook, sketchbook, doodles, purple and orange

Aren't they fun? Contrary to what my teachers may have thought, drawing was not distracting; rather, it kept me tethered to the desk and to what was happening in the room.

These books are my treasures. Here are some collages. I had a great time, cutting or tearing out images and putting them together in ways that pleased me, and now I have a record of that time and inspiration for new work. In fact, in this book I found an idea that I'll share with you next week.

Notebook, sketchbook, doodles, collage of piles of books

Notebook, sketchbook, Washington Square arch

This is a poignant page; remember, it was 1996.

Notebook, sketchbook, collage of red

This page is a celebration of red, even though today we're thinking, hoping and praying


Notebook, sketchbook, collage

Notebook, sketchbook, collage

Notebook, sketchbook, collage

November 05, 2020

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