When an octopus grabs hold…

It is, as I type, Day 10 of my 30-day art challenge, and I’m having So. Much. Fun. My goal with this challenge was to engage with my art every day, preferably on a project I wasn’t being paid for and hadn’t promised to anyone because I was finding it harder and harder to make time for my own random, occasionally inadvisable, soul-filling art whims. There are a few people doing this with me, some of whom are posting their stuff, and I have to say, it’s more fun doing it with them. We cheer each other on, and celebrate each other’s doggedness (because you know how I feel about doggedness when it comes to creativity).

I’d originally set out to finish a piece every day, and for the first six days, I did.

Then I hit day 7 and just as it’s happened so many, many times before to so many, many artists before me, I became obsessed, quite unexpectedly, with – of course! – an octopus.

… No?

Okay, whatever.

Weeks ago, one of my favorite online friends mentioned that she’d love a doodled octopus, and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. On Day 7, I woke up early and started doodling one.


Over the next three days, I got back to my octopus whenever I had time, and I took pictures along the way so I could share the undertaking with you.




I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to overstate how into this I got. I felt like I do when I’m reading a really good book and my actual life keeps getting in the way of my finishing it. (Coincidentally, I am, in fact reading a really good book now, so my life, my octopus, and my really good book were duking it out daily for my time.)



At first, I was a little stressed out that I was taking so long. In my own mind, I’d committed to completing something new every day, but when an obsession takes hold, it takes hold, and it didn’t take me long to realize feeding this particular brand of zealotry was far more worthwhile than adhering to an arbitrary set of rules (because you know how I feel about rules when it comes to creativity). The point, after all, was to make time for my art whims.


Yesterday, I finished her.


I love her – as much for the hours she didn’t allow me to fill with lesser things as for the finished piece she now is.


It’s not too late to join us. Whatever your art form is, committing to finding time for it on a daily basis is good for your soul. We have people painting, posting, writing, postcard-making, and website overhauling. And if it would help you to announce your intent, feel free to do so in the comments below. I will absolutely cheer you on.

Okay, twenty days to go. Onward!



  1. Karin on July 11, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Yay doodly octopus! She is beautiful 🙂 I think it’s a little ironic that it “sucked” you in while you were drawing it (given the nature of the creature). Pretty soon you will have a menagerie of animals in your collection. I can’t wait to see what you’ll doodle next!

    I’m so glad you inspired me to try the challenge. I usually complete more than one poem a day and have at least several to choose from when it comes time to post. It was scary at first because I was worried I couldn’t keep the quality of my writing. What if I got writer’s block? What if no one liked my new approach? I was so safe using poems I already knew people liked (or I thought they would like)–and it turns out this month has had much more positive feedback. So thank you 🙂

    P.S. If you’re doing zodiac signs…. I’m a Pisces *wink wink*

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      Wow! Yay! I haven’t been buy in a few days. I’ll stop over on the weekend to see what you’ve posted since I was last there. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the challenge and people are responding!

      Any suggestions for Pisces? You can see the symbols I’m focused on. There’s a moon on the Gemini piece because my niece requested that, and a heart for the Sagistarious piece because, I’m Sagitarious, and… you know… hearts. I’m open to suggestions for Pisces. : )

      • Karin on July 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm

        Well since Pisces is a fish, perhaps a mermaid? I have a fascination with mythological creatures (and could you imagine her doodled fish-scales? Yes please!)

        I do love all the feedback, especially yours. Everyone’s been so positive it’s scary!

        • Tina Lee on July 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm

          Ooh, yes! I’m Pisces! But since Pisces is two fish swimming in opposition, how about a mermaid and a merman?

          • Karin on July 11, 2014 at 8:40 pm

            Ooooh good idea. Like ying and yang style 🙂

          • j on July 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

            You guys are cute. Fortunately, Karin, I inked a doodly mermaid just today, so your mermaid wish is already done, and I’ll share soon! For the zodiac symbols, I’m not using the signs that are most common, like for mine (Sagittarius), I didn’t use the centuar, I used the arrow, and for Gemini, I used the symbol that looks like a Roman Numeral 2 instead of the twins. I think these are called Vedic symbols.

            That said, I am putting the symbols with other symbols, the moon (which meant something to my niece) and the heart (which meant something to me) for example. Make sense?

          • Karin on July 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm

            Ah. So this means the wavy lines for pisces I think in that symbolism.

            Personally I’m obsessed with peace signs, I do not know Tima’s preference 🙂
            Looking forward to the mermaid!

          • j on July 12, 2014 at 8:31 am

            Now THAT, I can work with! : )

  2. Vanessa Lowry on July 11, 2014 at 6:51 am

    What a cool octo-doodle-pus! The doodle I finished this morning has a center of curvy lines that circle back into themselves… feels kind of octopussy now that I’ve seen yours. 🙂

    I particularly love these lines: “I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to overstate how into this I got. I felt like I do when I’m reading a really good book and my actual life keeps getting in the way of my finishing it. (Coincidentally, I am, in fact reading a really good book now, so my life, my octopus, and my really good book were duking it out daily for my time.)”

    Amen sister!

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you, Vanessa. Did you post your doodle?

  3. Tin Lee on July 11, 2014 at 7:05 am


    She is spectacular! She “sucked” me in as well, looking at her come to life as you progressed. I am currently crocheting a red cardigan for myself. I am slowly learning how to adjust a pattern to actually fit one’s body, given that my technique results in a garment much longer than intended. It almost became a duster!

    I have a request or suggested drawing for you to try. My uncles gave me the nickname “bug” when I was a child because I was so snugly that eventually I was “bugging” them because I always wanted to sit on one of their laps. When I got older, I claimed a ladybug to represent my “bugness” (I knew if I left it up to my family, they would choose something like a cockroach)!

    My husband and I separated in 2009 and I moved into my own place in 2010. At that time, I felt like I was on a journey, and I envisioned a ladybug in flight. Do you know how hard it is to find pictures and other representations of ladybugs in flight? Anyway, if you get the whim, try your hand at doodling a ladybug in flight…I would love to see what you come up with! Oh, and if you could work a daisy or two into the mix that would be really cool, too!

    Love you!

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      What a sweet story. I’ll add “lady bug in flight with daisies” to my list of suggested doodles.


  4. Pam on July 11, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Love love love the octopus!

    Yes, sometimes it’s like I’m (secretly) tapping my foot and or faunching & stewing through everything else until I can get back to the project.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure where the current postcard is going. Sometimes the project mojo meanders.

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      I can’t wait to see the current postcard then! They’ve been quite wonderful so far.

      And “faunching” is a new word for me. I love it. It will be the bright side next time I faunch. I’ll think, “Yes, I’m faunching and all, but at least I know what to call it, thanks to Pam.”

      (Maybe it needs to be an obscure word doodle.)

  5. Nancy on July 11, 2014 at 8:37 am

    My how time flies…I was going to play along, and now it’s already July 11, and between having bronchitis, but still having to work, and unevenly grieving mama (is there another way to grieve??) my time is spent mainly in veg mode right now. I get home and crash. I do get to reinvent myself now, and your sparking of creativity is never far from mind. Dunno when I’ll join in the fun (and it may be outside of this month), but know that I will.

    Love you so much.


    • j on July 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      “Unevenly grieving” is such a perfect term to describe what you’re going through. I absolutely understood what you meant. And no… I think there is no other way to grieve. Sending you big, big love and hugs, my friend. And when you feel that creative bug nipping at your heels (how’s that for a mixed metaphor), I’ll be right here, ready to play with you. xoxo

  6. leah77 on July 11, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Your octopus is beautiful. I love how she called to you from the seed of inception, telling you that she must come into the world, and you were the one to birth her.
    You’ve inspired me today…which is no small feat, for of late I have been lingering on a lower rung, contemplating nonsense and paying dearly for it.
    Thank you sweet, J!

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Thank YOU, Leah. I did feel her call, and her unfolding was absolutely the best time I’ve ever had doodling… and that’s saying something.

      I love the phrase “contemplating nonsense.” Sometimes that’s a good thing, but all too often… yeah. You pay for it. Anyway, I love when your creative juices get flowing, it always turns into something I love.

  7. Nina Badzin on July 11, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I see why you love her! The detail and movement are really wonderful.

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you, Nina. Unliike when I write, I really love the detail work when I doodle.

  8. Heather Dougherty on July 11, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Gorgeous! And, interestingly, I just decided to do a very similar challenge myself. I’m on Day 2 of 100. Carey Gesek Jones pointed me in your direction – and I’m really glad she did. 🙂 Let us go forth and CREATE!

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Hi, Heather! Are you doing your challenge publicly somewhere where I can cheer you on? And even if I can’t, know that I’m doing it anyway. We’re creating like crazy, together apart! ; )

      • Heather Dougherty on July 14, 2014 at 8:41 am

        I’m posting them all to Facebook. We could connect there. I’ll send you a friend request.

        • j on July 15, 2014 at 8:29 am

          And now we have connected there! LOVE your drawings. I’ll keep watching & cheering.

  9. Kathleen on July 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I love this & appreciate seeing the progress/process photos. I want her and hope to find her in the shop soon!!

    • j on July 11, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Thank you, Kathleen. She’ll be there soon!

  10. Alarna Rose Gray on July 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Judy, I really love how you were able to immerse in this… and I find it quite symbolic that it was an Octopus. Because I think we are all struggling with the million things that pull at us, and it is sad to pause on the thought that most of the things we do these days are dogged by a feeling that we should be doing something else. At least, that’s how it is for me, and I think that’s what you’re saying here, as well. It’s absolutely counter to the creative process, and worth more than a ponder.

    • j on July 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      It’s funny that I didn’t think about that it was an octopus, but that is quite fitting, isn’t it?

      And, holy cow, we are so alike. (I say that all the time, don’t I?) Me too, me too, on the nagging feeling whenever I’m dong something that isn’t directly related to the bottom line or to some obligation that I have, that I should be doing something else. Over the past year, I’ve really worked on this. I have a long way to go, but I’ve been practicing giving myself permission – to read a book, to write/draw/create what I want, to call a friend, to sit out back, to lie down with Lexi. Somehow the act of consciously deciding to be okay with it (giving myself permission) makes it better for me.

      Having lived my life mostly with boys who don’t seem to feel this way, I’ve always wondered if it’s a girl thing. Or maybe just a modern society thing…

  11. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) on July 16, 2014 at 7:52 am

    That octopus is stunning! That has to be my favorite of all your doodles yet!! And it was a real treat to see some process photos. My favorite part was when the pencil became ink. Really, really cool, j!

    • j on July 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      That’s my favorite part, too. I don’t notice it so much as it’s happening – that forest through the trees thing – but it was fun to have it captured for me. Thank you, Annie!

  12. julia on July 19, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    J, I love you and your doodles and I love that you are constantly and continuously pushing yourself to show up & stretch. Big, big love to you, precious person.

    • j on July 21, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Thank you, Julia. xoxo

  13. Beamer on July 20, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I love the octopus doodle, and I see you are working on zodiac symbols. Have you one for Libra yet? How about a tree that holds up 2 peace signs in balance. the tree symbolizes the family and the leveled peace signs , Libra always trying to see both sides – oh eyes ! with peace sign irisis ! hanging from a tree. I so love your doodles. They make me feel good when I see them. Have a wonderful day!

  14. j on July 24, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I love that idea! I will definitely work with that for Libra. Thank you so much for suggesting it! (And sorry for the delayed response. For some reason, my site has stopped notifying me of comments. I keep missing that I have new ones. I need someone Sherlocky-smarter than I am to figure out what’s wrong.)

Leave a Comment