Scribbling My Way to Mental Health

Just out of curiosity…

How do you stay grounded and centered? Do you pray? Do you meditate? Do you run out to the vast landscape away from crowds so you can breathe, scream, hike? Or maybe you create beaded jewelry, or color? All of these are ways we use to keep ourselves from panicking. Many people started new hobbies/activities during lock down in the pandemic and I suggest you don’t give those up just because you can get out and about more today.
We all need some way to keep us balanced, I don’t know about you, but I will end up under my bed or hiding in the closet without it.
I have tried all of the above with varied success. Praying/meditating just gives my busy brain a chance to take over the empty space and set off nuclear thoughts that put me in a bigger panic. And going out into the wild is great during the day, however it is not a helpful strategy at 2am which is primarily when I get panicky. My latest method of grounding myself is sketching/ drawing with a small tip pen using lot’s of small strokes. The rhythm of my hand motions calms my brain and my body and I fall back to sleep in less then an hour. I started doing these drawing while in Oregon. They were a way to continue making some kind of art when I had no time to devote to it. And now I continue, and am expanding the practice to help not only calm me down, but also to re-ignite my creativity.

The World of Edward Gorey

I have been reading a book about Edward Gorey called The World of Edward Gorey who is one of my favorite illustrators of all time. He works in pen & ink and he creates fantastical landscapes and characters that are unique, even odd and a little macabre. You may know his work from the opening scenes of the Mystery! series on Public Television that ran for years and years.
His style is full of intricate patterns and details all done with a tiny black pen and they are very inspiring to me.

2am Drawing Session

I have been creating some similar style drawings and this is what I am doing to relieve anxiety. Starting with a blank page and just making marks spurs my imagination to help sort out what I am feeling and the images that arise are expressions of my feelings and nothing more. I am trying to emulate some of the pattern styles Gorey creates, unique crosshatchings that add so much character to his art. I want more of that in my art and so he is inspiring me to develop in this way. Even though I have drawn in pen for many many years, my style has been sketchy and raw and I want to refine it more.

New Moon Anxiety

I love this art form for several reasons. Simplicity of tools; paper and a pen or two, it’s black and white which I have always loved; I only have to make value decisions not color hues and saturation decisions, It is in a small format; 9”x12” so it fits in my purse. I can make art anywhere and to me, that is pure joy.

They Grow on Trees

When one is dealing with life changes the way many of us are these days, it is important to find ways to stay calm, to have some continuity in life in the midst of chaos. Don’t worry about what others think of your choice, it’s not important. What you create is not always perfect and often it is the process not the product that is the valuable thing. Sometimes the scribbling is just the point. The act of scribbling releases pent up energy in the body and helps to calm the mind too.

I hope I didn’t pack the puppies!

This last drawing is because I have started purging and packing. Where am I going? That is still a developing detail and I will keep you Posted!

Until next week, Have a Happy Day!


Published by cherylmcdonald

Thank you for taking a little time to get to know me. Making art has been my life, I love to tell stories through words and pictures. I am a multi-media artist working in photography, watercolor, various drawing media, and sometimes digital art.

9 thoughts on “Scribbling My Way to Mental Health

  1. You’re an amazing artist Cheryl……regardless of the medium. I also appreciate your tips on life today, and your vulnerability and being REAL.

    Thank you for it all.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim VanDevendar may contact you about a book he is getting ready to publish, and wants help with illustrations. There are some wonderful subjects on this letter.You have a great ability, Cheryl.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, those ink drawings of yours are AMAZING!! My fave is the ‘2am’ one. And I laughed aloud at the packing one!
    (Obviously really packing them wouldn’t be a laughing matter, but the worry of doing so in these crazy days certainly rings true)

    One thing I do to help center myself is playing the mobile game Word Chums, as it is bright and colorful and cute (my favorite things ever), and it occupies my mind being a Scrabble-type game. I have been using it for more than 5 years and it’s definitely my go-to 🙂


  4. Love your Scribbling, Cheryl. Thanks for sharing your drawings and the whole concept of scribbling. Love pen and ink! These days are very upsetting, finding my adrenaline rising when watching the news and as I react to certain aspects of my life…. that fight or flight feeling. Bob and I watched the movie, Goya’s Ghosts (Netflix) and it paralleled our current times with those of the Spanish Inquisition that Goya experienced. Heavy stuff. It seems we humans keep repeating our mistakes and not learning from our History. Stay truthful and sane with your art. It is good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Carol
      Yes these are crazy times. I can’t say again but continuing crazy times! I will look for that movie, I love Goya’s works, always love learning about an artist and their times in history. When we live has much to do with what we create. Maybe scribbling is for you as well!


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