Beyond the Paintbrush

Inspiration for unconventional creativity

Hello artists, aspiring creative minds, and anyone in between!

I am so thrilled to welcome you all here to this space of inspiration and limitless creativity. If you’re anything like me, you might be feeling some isolation fatigue and are itching to find something to do that’s just for fun. Lately I’ve found that some of the easiest and most fun things to do are some mini art projects. So, consider this a place where we can gather for inspiration and bring a bit of fun and creativity into our lives. The goal of this blog is to provide some artistic inspiration for creative projects that you probably aren’t familiar with. So it doesn’t matter whether you think you “can” or “can’t” draw or paint or make art, because the only thing that matters is if it sounds like fun! I encourage you all to try everything you’re able to. You can change anything about the project that doesn’t work for you or leave it as is, and who knows— it might just become one of your favorite projects! And if it’s not, that’s okay too, but it’s great to try out as many things that interest you because you never know which one will stick.

To kick off our creative journey together, we will be doing… drum roll please…

coffee doodles!

The artist that started it all is David Jardin. He is a free-lance illustrator who started a coffee doodle YouTube series that became pretty popular a few years ago. His videos are as funny as they are inspiring, and his drawings defy all laws of physics and nature (which just adds to the pure fun of it). The best part about them is that nobody knows what they’re going to look like in the end (including David himself!), and in his first episode he mentions “I don’t know what I’m doing”, which is something I think we can all relate to when it comes to doing certain art forms. With that, the main idea of this project is to let go of any expectations you may have and follow any direction your hand takes you. These drawings don’t even have to make any sense; you might take your doodle in one direction, but realize you want to turn it into something else entirely.

I’ll say it again: they don’t have to make sense at all. The point is to have so much fun with it that you forget what you’re doing and you forget about the outcome. So let’s get started!

First start out with a blank piece of paper (preferably white, so your coffee stains will show through), and some brewed coffee (you definitely don’t want it very hot). Then with a brush or a paper towel, dip it into the coffee and gently press (or drag) onto the paper to create your stains. The trick with this is to not think about the shape or the outcome, but to just make your starting points from which your imagination can run. You can make them as big or as small as you’d like (but I’d recommend making them a bit on the smaller side if you’re a doodling rookie like me; it makes filling the space much less intimidating), and as many or as few as you'd like. Once you think you're done, let them dry and we’ll come back to them.

Once the coffee has dried completely, pick up a pen (that's right, a pen; have no fear) and find the first stain that for whatever reason catches your eye. Maybe you like how round it is; maybe you like the way it spreads out into multiple directions; maybe you don’t really like any of them, so you close your eyes and put your finger on one and start there (don't forget you can turn your page around in any direction to see an angle of a stain you might like).

Then just draw a line. Any kind of line. Straight, squiggly— you don’t have to know what you’re doing at all (in fact, it’s more fun if you don’t know what you’re doing).

Once you’ve drawn your line, draw another one. It could connect to the first one in some way, or it could be completely separate. Then draw another one. And another one. And another one.

At some point you might kind of see it almost starting to look like something, so follow whatever direction draws your attention (no pun intended). Maybe after following that idea for a little while you realize that it’s not the one you want, so feel free to change it and head in another direction. Many of David’s drawings start out as an animal or a person, but they end up being a piece of machinery, or even an animal as if they were a person. You just never know— and that’s the best part. You never know where it’s going to take you, so just do whatever comes to you.

Keep in mind you’re not bound to the shape of your stain. They mainly serve as just a starting point to get your imagination flowing, so feel free to branch out into the blank white space, or connect that drawing with another stain, or maybe you really want to challenge yourself and draw around the exact shape of the stain— it is entirely up to you!

Once you feel good with one of your doodles, move on to the next one and carry on until you feel like your page is complete! You don’t even have to draw around all the stains; maybe a few of them you’d like to keep as is. Again, it is entirely up to you. Your drawings can all be connected in some way (either physically or narratively), or they can all be separate.

Here are my first stains:

And just in case you're unsure about just how silly these doodles can get, here are my first ones, which include a parachuting lima bean, a mouse chef, and a spinning top...?

I had so much fun with this! After every stroke of my pen I found myself laughing at the absurdity of each doodle, and I am so excited to do some more. However, once I did three or four of them I found myself getting kind of stuck. In that case, I would recommend rotating the page a few times to see all the stains from a different angle and hopefully that'll get your hand moving again (it worked for me!).

So have at it! Brew some coffee (and maybe a little extra to get the ideas flowing), grab a pen, and get going.

We'd love to hear how your project turned out, or if you have any suggestions on what other media you'd like to see here!

Stay tuned for next month's project!

To see some more of David Jardine's work, check out his YouTube channel: