I recently read “Hare Brain Tortoise Mind” by Guy Claxton and was reminded of how rhythmic things like weeding a garden or doodling can be calming to the human mind. This physical neurological response to “uniformly random rhythms” is also part of the human reaction to rhythms in songs, poetry or prose – we respond neurologically to refrains and repeated patterns, with variations, in all of the arts.
I include cooking here – it too is one of the fine art forms that has comforting rhythms both for the person stirring the stew and for the person eating. I think of how soothing it is for a small child to be held and rocked – what if all of the human fine arts are basically rhythms that can hold “rock” and soothe our physical brains?
So I’ve been thinking more about rhythmic patterns in my own creative efforts. I’ve begun doing doodlebugs… and other projects that involve “uniformly random rhythms” of patterns. I’m also making some changes to my morning sketchbook sessions that involve making more patterns.
As you know things that encourage good mental health skills are important to me and if I can foster my own mental health via rhythmic pattern creativity – and by sharing my work perhaps help others too – that seems a worthy artistic goal.
Here’s a doodlebug I did in my sketchbook and a fabric pattern I made from it.
Here’s my orange doodlebug pattern on a throw pillow.
Recently someone sent me some photos of one of my wallpaper designs that they applied to their kitchen island. They were pleased and said it was “just the whimsy we were looking for”! I’m glad they were pleased!! I’ve learned in the process that grids are fun ways to make visual rhythms!
Here’s a painting I finished this week that I’ve titled “This Little Piggy”. It was inspired by the nursery rhyme: (please note the rhythms) “This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. This little pig cried wee, wee, wee all the way home.” As you can see in my painting below I also repeated visual rhythms, like the rhyme, and did a few playful alterations.
In the video below is a look inside my studio at “This Little Piggy” – I created using ink, gouache and color pencils many of the supplies you’ll see briefly in the video.
It will join my other paintings for exhibits later this year via Amy Biederman Caplan at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery. www.caplanartdesigns.com
In my email newsletter this week I shared my “This Little Piggy” painting and I’ve been sharing my sketchbook pages. I’ve finished sketchbooks C and D and am working on E currently. The doodlebug image above is in book “D”.
This book is my current evening and weekend reading. It has a library in it that is dedicated to poetry… be still my heart!
And because I like to share particularly good things: here’s a link to a good recipe for LENTIL CHILI along with my additional notes and variations: Add a can of roasted chilies and use chicken or veg broth or water (whatever available/handy). Add cumin, dark cocoa, Mexican oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper – cook 30 or more mins on simmer, stir often and add more broth or water if needed.
Variation: add a chopped carrot, frozen corn and or chopped bell pepper
And look at the rhythmic visual pattern of the beans in my cookpot too!!
I hope your week forms a pleasant daily rhythm for you.
See you next Monday or so.
11 thoughts on “Rhythms, a doodlebug and little piggies”
Adding dark cocoa to a lentil and bean chilli is a genius idea. I am going to have to give that a try with my family next time I make a veggie chilli. I am a big fan of your Little Piggies. I do find that rhythms and routines are very important to my wellbeing and personal calibration but I also find I need to strike the balance between that and not being stuck in a rut. I find it just requires self-awareness and a bit of vigilance. My balance point is weighted in favour of the routines and rhythms but it works for me.
Yes!! I’m the same way!!! I like to deliberately curate (select) my habits and what I will repeat. Yet I also try to be flexible- if the routine is disrupted it is not a “bad” thing it’s an opportunity for a slight variation. This is what I’m learning about as I read neuroscience – we humans thrive best when we have uniform randomness … helpful comforting routines *and* occasional variations. It’s a creative technique too, i.e. in poetry or cartooning, to devise a rhythm scheme of some sort “same, same, same, different, same”… “opening statement, 3 points in support, conclusions” etc schematics.
And yes, the added dark cocoa makes a huge difference in the chili flavor!! Yummy!!! I hope you enjoy it whenever you make chili again!!
I love the doodlebug throw pillow! Art for the couch! I would say that the kitchen island with the wine connoisseur is saying, Come on in to our kitchen and have a good time. I saved the lentil chili recipe. I love veggie chili. I’m most struck by the patterns in nature. They’re a source of wonder.
I agree patterns in nature are amazing to observe and ponder.
Yes!! The patterns in nature are enchanting!!
Yes!!!! I like making art for the couch and kitchen!!! I’m delighted you liked what I made too!! I’m also glad you saved the veggie chili recipe- it’s a reliably good one! I hope you’ll enjoy it whenever you make it!! Yes! Patterns in nature are indeed a source of wonder!!!! ❤
I sometimes think I crave routines, but in thinking through your post, it’s actually patterns I like and find soothing within certain routines. This will help me add variety but still maintain the calmness.
One of my favorite patterns is swimming. So relaxing to mind and body! And it’s definitely the repetition of movement that I enjoy, along with floating and flowing within the patterns of the water.
Swimming, like walking, is definitely an enjoyable repetition of movement! You described very well what I was getting at in my post – we need routine and repetition of movement for the self-soothing in them *and* we need occasional variations too! This is part of why the 3 act pattern works so well in fables and other storytelling!! We like it when an author establishes characters and their routines well and yet still surprises us somehow within the story scenario and or conclusion. Anyhoo. I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and maintaining both calmness and variety!!! Keep it up!!!
Best kitchen island ever. We love that soup, but we finely dice a sweet potato and let it melt into the beans while they cook. Farty bean soup with cajun spice!
Oooh your variation with sweet potatoes sounds luscious!! I’ll add it to my list too!! Thank you!! And thanks for your comment about the kitchen island !!