How a Doodle Changed My Life

One night 8 years ago something happened when I was closing at my part-time job, I distinctly remember it.

There were no customers. I was doodling on a napkin and my coworker happened to see it.

"Whoa! that is SO cool!", she said, "You should paint that really big!"

I remember being surprised - SHOCKED even. To me, it was just a little doodle on a napkin.

At that point in my life the thought had never occurred to me to honor one of my doodles - to paint it and call it ART.

After graduating college in 2008, I hadn't been able to find a "real" job. I was working two part time jobs, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and felt like a failure. I hadn't painted in years.

It all started with that doodle.

The idea of painting it really big stuck with me. Then one night I found an old tube of red acrylic paint and let loose all over my bedroom wall.

I just kept going and going, inspired by the design on the napkin. Curls and swirls and drips and design. It was amazing and fun and I was proud of the result:

I think of that night as the beginning of my art career - it set things in motion.

I began to doodle with paint regularly - experimenting and improvising designs. It allowed me to actually enjoy the process of creating, which led me to make more and more art.

The paintings below are from that time period - a time before I had ever taken money for my art or knew anything about making prints.

They weren't assignments for class, or trying to be anything in particular. They were just me having fun, which was something new.

The images below is are from an improvised mural I did at the time (2010-ish).

Soon after all this I moved into an artist co-op. While living there I met some people who sold their art on the Venice Beach boardwalk and pushed me to try it.

My paintings didn’t look like the art that school told me was important, or what I thought "ART" was supposed to look like.

But the response I got from people on the boardwalk showed me that it didn't matter.

I started getting attention for my art - but most importantly, it was attention for art that felt true to me.

That was the affirmation I needed. The fuel that encouraged me to trust my creative muses and keep going, creating whatever I wanted to create.

I had always been trying to do things the "right" way and follow the "right" path.

The truth is, there is no right way or path, although society sometimes makes us feel like there is.

I finally realized I didn’t have to ask permission from anyone to be anything, and I didn’t have to try to fit into a mainstream path.

Eventually I quit my part-time jobs - which allowed my growing passion for painting to blossom.

More art from that time period (2010-2011):

It has been fun and inspiring for me to share this with you, and look at how my art has evolved over the years.

Here are some paintings from 2015 for comparison:

And here are some of my most recent paintings (2017):

I hope this inspires you to follow your own path in art, and your life.

Please comment below about your own creative journey!

XO,

Carissa