Though a prompt of “Lava Lamp” is a touch unusual, it certainly counts as a colorful thing. And I noticed on posts from other artists that depending on where you are in the world you might have had to do a quick search to figure out what the heck it is. I loved these lamps when I was a kid and after sketching one a little over a year ago, I suddenly decided I absolutely had to have one that Christmas. The next several weeks were spent dropping not terribly subtle hints to Philippe on my sudden craving. As the story unfolded, it did indeed have a happy ending and this is the very lava lamp that I received. It now sits on a corner table next to my favorite chair as a sort of trophy for my incessant begging. This is probably not a behavior that should be rewarded, but I really do adore my lava lamp. For someone as easily distracted as I am, this could also seem like the worst gift ever. In truth, I’m often writing my posts while sitting next to it and can get a little caught up in watching the little wax bubbles form. Lamps like these can put one into a bit of a trance. But, it’s such a happy and peaceful place that I also find it rather energizing. And, at any rate, it’s probably a much needed break from my usual distraction of funny pet videos.

It’s quite true that I rarely ever do only one thing at a time. While I’m painting, I’m also usually watching and/or listening to a show with Philippe. While I’m writing, I’ll take quick little breaks to get lost in my lava lamp. This sort of approach as I’m talking about it seems perfectly childish and practically dysfunctional. But that’s the thing about creativity. It’s not really a functional endeavor. It’s a messy space where the mind jumps from one idea to something completely random and never follows a linear path. And it’s the space I enjoy most. I’ve no idea quite how I’ll paint something when I sit down to paint it and no clue what story will appear under it when I’m done. This, to me, has made the whole journey much more exciting. If I always planned out every post, it would eventually feel like work. This is my playtime, so I simply treat it as such. My only goal is to complete something each day and the rest is left to that wild roller coaster of chance that I ride each time I attempt to do so. And sometimes, something really cool appears, and I write something that surprises me. Other times, it’s just a glimpse into the mind of a crazy person. Either way, it’s become the most rewarding habit I’ve ever had.

Truly, I feel like my lack of process and planning has made me better at sketching. And it’s made me better at many things in life. That said, there’s a heck of a lot to be said for planning things and following a steady approach. This is a wonderful skill, that I can personally only do in short bursts. My mind is much more like a bubbling lava lamp, slowly moving between inexplicable shapes and notions. What sometimes feels like a rash decision was actually hours and hours of bubbling thought. Nothing I’ve written down, of course, but thoughts that are all still there, blending into one another and creating new ideas. Perhaps that’s why I adore lava lamps so much. Beyond the cool look and wonderful therapeutic qualities, I can simply relate to them. Sometimes, great ideas come from those small bits of ideas that seem to be moving too slowly to matter. But, it’s the combination that makes the magic and creates something fabulous and new. Maybe it’s nothing ground-breaking, but if it didn’t exist in the moment before, it’s something to treasure. And so, I just keep right on sketching my way through life and enjoying all of those beautiful unexpected moments that can very often be credited to those lovely distractions.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Lava Lamp Pink Yellow Purple Watercolor Painting Sketchbook Detail

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21 thoughts on “Lovely Distractions

  1. Did you know that all have a Zombie in our brain? Lol! The neurologists explain it differently, but even they use the term Zombie. It’s the part of the brain that takes over when you’re thinking about something else – you’re driving and suddenly realize you don’t remember much of the drive or you suddenly realize you’ve read several pages and don’t remember what you’ve read. Or maybe you know you should get up in the morning, but linger and the next thing you know you are brushing your teeth. I always refer to my muse, but I actually think it is my zombie that does half my artwork. He’s probably the fellow that lets you be distracted and keeps your place until you come back.

  2. This sort of makes me hanker for a lava lamp. When I was writing a lot of poetry I kind of became known for my rambling. I’d begin on topic, diverge wildly, then end back where I began, making a point of sorts I hope. I had a teacher once who suggested I choose two totally unrelated things to put in a poem. I just kept doing it.

  3. Charlie says, ” My mind is much more like a bubbling lava lamp, slowly moving between inexplicable shapes and notions. What sometimes feels like a rash decision was actually hours and hours of bubbling thought”

    I have often thought I’d like to be a mouse in your mind for day, just to see how the wheels turn. Your above comment paints a perfectly vivid picture of a creative mind. Really neat! The lava lamp looks so real I waited a few seconds for the bubbles to move.

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