June 12, 2016

Pencil Doodles, Photos, and Piano by Brenda Leyland

In response to our June prompt, I'm delighted to share what other creative work I currently do when I'm not writing.

Pencil Doodling. Pencils make me want to doodle. No piece of paper is safe from the irresistible urge of forming alphabet letters in various calligraphic styles, creating flower petals, sprigs and posies. I want to draw cozy teapots with fat round lids and stacks of colouring book style teacups. Even the odd fashion design, especially dresses with billowy skirts from the 1950s.

"The imagination needs noodling --
long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.
 ~ Brenda Ueland, "If You Want To Write"

About a year ago, I finally bought a sketch book. That simple gesture seemed to give acknowledgement to this doodling desire that never goes away. If I'm going to doodle then why not acknowledge its value in my life and give it space. Now I doodle and sketch. I sketch to improve my observation of the world around me. I doodle to relax. It's fun, comforting, restful. Something pressured writers could experience more often.

"Lord, give me an open heart to find You everywhere,
to glimpse the heaven enfolded in a bud,
and experience eternity in the smallest act of love."

~ Mother Teresa

Photography. When I'm not noodling over a doodle, you might find me out and about with my iPhone camera capturing glimpses of creation's beauty. Sunsets and storm clouds. Pansies and feathered friends. Rainbows, spider webs glistening with raindrops, red berries, and autumn leaves. Did I mention flowers ...  and gardens and garden gates?

In the past, I would never have considered photography as a creative pursuit. As in, please don't make me fiddle around with lens, fancy light, and sets -- that all makes me feel jittery inside. But my iPhone camera is a gem. It allows me to take photos with the greatest of ease, simplicity, and to my great delight, with surprising results.

I fell in love with taking pictures, and now I look for opportunities everywhere for something lovely, interesting, or even what might not at first glance seem significant in any way. For one never knows when, after cropping away the extraneous, you find yourself looking at a real gem of a picture. Waiting for you to share in blog posts, on social media, with loved ones, or in digital-to-print books created on Shutterfly.

Photography is the story I fail to put into words.
~ Destin Sparks

To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Elliott Erwitt
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/photography.html

The Piano.  The piano is a lifelong love. These days I often switch from writing on my computer keyboard to playing on my piano. On any given day, if you walk up to my front door, you'll probably hear the faint strains of piano music wafting through the air. I might be patiently working, bar by bar, on a longtime-dream to master Chopin's sweetly pensive Etude in E Major. Or, I could be pounding out some lively jazz piece that makes my fingers dance.

Or, I could be creating a new piece of music. Or improvising. Which sets me free from reading notes and lets me play from my heart. There is a psalm that invites us to sing new songs unto the Lord. I love the idea of playing new melodies to Him when I feel the creative stirrings of the spirit (mine and His).

I'm currently working on a reflective piece that came to me years ago. Having never forgotten it, I often play it when the mood of the heart is right and I feel His presence. A few months ago, when I told my music instructor about it, she said, let's get it written into sheet music. What fun -- it's writing of a completely different note (wink).

"Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening.
Playing the piano allows you to do both at the same time."
~ Kelsey Grammer

To include one or more art form in our lives can add so much to our overall sense of well-being and our joyful response to life's good gifts. We were born to create and when we create good things happen to our minds, our emotions, and even our bodies. The array of art forms available to us not only adds interest, variety, and depth to our personal life experience, but these various disciplines use different parts of the brain (that has to be good), and I've found what I learn in one field often comes in handy in another.

I've never seen myself as a serious artist, but I have come to recognize -- and to honour --  the creative bent the Lord has placed within me. Finding different ways to express who I am, who I am growing into, enriches my own soul and stretches my mind as I embrace new ideas, tools, techniques, and skills. All of which helps me become a better, more engaging writer. That has to be good too.

Brenda Leyland enjoys writing on her slice-of-life blog at It's A Beautiful Life -- it's one place where she shares her many 'glimpses of heaven in unexpected places'. She continues to work at various other writing projects.

Note: (c) Above photos by Brenda.



  1. We have more in common than I realized :)

  2. A lovely post, with beautiful photos.

  3. I have long admired your beautiful photos but I didn't know about the drawing & piano. I am certainly enjoying this month's discoveries!

  4. Just yesterday I was listening to Mary Norris's book Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and the chapter on pencils in particular. She made me want to get out all the pencils in the house and start comparing them and doodling or even writing in my journal with them. I notice that all three of your creative pursuits mentioned here make use of "tools," the piano, pencil, and camera, the instruments that help us express our creativity. And that reminds me of how Mary Pride long ago recommended that we invest in Tools and Skills... you have certainly done that!

    1. Gretchen, Just imagine, a whole chapter on pencils. Now I want to go read (or listen) to Mary Norris's book.

      And Mary Pride's recommendation on investing in Tools and Skills ... oh I like that idea.

      Bren xox

  5. I loved it very much, all the wonderful talent you have makes my heart sing!!

  6. Your creative pursuits are so wonderfully complementary to each other. It's such a blessing when we have time and space to pursue all sorts of creative avenues!

  7. LOVE the pink tulips against the black canvas. And I also love how you inspire me to expand my creative pursuits as well! and, I didn't know your photos were with an IPhone. Love that idea too! :)

  8. Wow! I'm excited to find out about all the beautiful ways you create, display, and share beauty. This all goes so well with your "It's a Beautiful Life" blog, Bren.

    I too am impressed that you do your photography with an iPhone. I waited several years before purchasing an SLR. Now, I am overwhelmed with all I can't do with it. Thanks for sharing the number of ways you revive your spirit for writing.

  9. I'm a pianist, as well. Would love to hear you play.

  10. Dear Brenda your creative spirit just comes forth with all your lovely endeavors. I also play the piano and organ. Wouldn't it be fun to do a duet together? ? Hugs

  11. The joy you feel when you pursue these creative gifts is palpable, Brenda! I can just imagine the lovely sounds coming from your piano.....your photos are always wonderful, and please do share some of your doodles soon! xx Karen

  12. Brenda,
    You are a kindred spirit :) Thanks for sharing your heart and your photos. Hopefully we can sit and visit again soon.

  13. creativity in any form makes life more enjoyable...

  14. Getting to know you more and more!
    Didn't know you are a doodler!


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