Simple Creativity: Combining Doodling, Stick Figures, and Gratitude Journaling

Or as I’ve started to call it, “art journaling for the rest of us”.

Simple Creativity: Combining Doodling, Stick Figures, and Gratitude Journaling |

I can’t draw. Never have been able to. But, I do have a history of doodling, and I love keeping a gratitude journal. And, when I learned to combine the two? Fun!

“I’m not creative.”

This something I hear a lot from friends and readers.

So many of us have a desire to be creative and create art, but, since so many of us can’t draw anything beyond a basic stick figure, we dismiss the idea that we are creative or artistic.

Thankfully, being creative, or creating art is not limited to our ability to draw decent stick figures.

I can’t draw either, so please don’t ask me to be on your Pictionary team. On the other hand, doodling random shapes is something I have done for as long as I can remember.

Did you ever cover your textbooks in paper? I did, and usually with brown paper grocery bags that I could doodle on. Or did you use the yellow Pee Chee folders in school? For me, by the end of the year my book covers and Pee Chees were colored in, scribbled, and doodled on.

I ended up saving one textbook cover from my senior year in high school, it felt worth keeping as it was filled with memories, messages, and doodles. In a way, it became a journal of what happened during that year.

You Are Creative

Over the years my definition of what being creative means has changed and expanded beyond the ability to draw or paint.

There are so many ways in which to be creative:

  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • Home Decorating
  • Hospitality
  • Letter writing
  • Journaling
  • Problem solving
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Woodworking

We all have our creative side whether we realize it or not.

Doodling Is An Art Form 🙂

In recent years doodling has come into its own and is even considered it an art form and a learning tool.

Doodling as Art:

Zentangles is a prime example of fancy, intricate doodling. Taken a step further, one of my favorite Zentangle experts, Joanne Fink, also started teaching Dangle Designs, what’s that you might ask? You can see examples from two of my favorite books on the subject here and here.

Doodling as a Learning Tool:

Studies have shown that when you doodle about what you are learning it can help improve your memory, help you focus, and help you concentrate. Doodling can help you retain what you hear in a class lecture, or a sermon, far beyond simple handwritten notes.

Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world. Quote by Brene Brown #quote #creativity

Why Gratitude Journaling?

I’ve kept a journal off an on for years and what I generally go back to is Gratitude Journaling. I’ve written about the benefits of journaling by hand here, and reasons to keep a Gratitude Journal here.

But also, as much as I would love to be one of those fancy bullet journalers or art journalers, I never will be. Keeping a regular list of what I am grateful for is a quick and easy way to remember and record what has happened during the week that I don’t want to forget.

But, I STILL Want To Draw

As I’m journaling or doodling I still wish I could pull out a sketchbook and draw something, anything. Of course, then I start to draw and realize no one should ever see my attempts. It’s terrible, but it does help scratch an itch :).

Index Card Art

When I’m working on a website project, often there are blocks of time where I need to sit back and let my computer do its thing. Run an analysis, do a backup, or download huge files. This summer, I started keeping a stack of 4×6 blank index cards handy that I could pull out and start doodling. Sometimes it is random art, and sometimes it was a quote or verse I had read.

I was hooked. Blank, unlined, 4×6 index cards are a great invention. My favorite comes from Walmart, where a pack of 100 is only $0.97. There aren’t many art supplies you can buy at that price.

Usually, I didn’t keep them, after all, it was just random doodles to occupy my time for a few minutes.

Then I met Jennie Moraitis a blogger, writer, and author over at

Happy Journal Happy Life

Happy Journal, Happy Life by Jennie MoraitisI found Jennie’s blog over the summer and felt like I had encountered a kindred spirit.

She has a strong desire to help women find their creative side in simple, doable ways. And, she is a fellow Oregonian!

In her delightful book, Happy Journal Happy Life, Jennie shares stories and examples of how she has used her own style of simple journaling to record memories and express gratitude. It has given me a new way of looking at my idea of index card art. I was inspired to create quick art in a new way through doodling, silly little stick figures, and gratitude journaling, all in a doable and memorable way.

To say I’m excited about this book and what she teaches is an understatement.

One thing I hear over and over from my readers is the desire to be, and more importantly FEEL, creative. Which is quickly followed by, “but I don’t have the time and have no idea where to start.”

This book is a perfect place to start since you only need two tools, a pen, and some paper. As for time, you will probably just need about 5-10 minutes.

That’s it!

Can you make it fancier? Absolutely. Can you take more time? Of course, but you don’t need too.

I am also enjoying  finding uses for the art supplies I’ve collected over the years but never use. If I have some extra time, I can use my ever growing collection of fun pens (I’m a bit of a pen collector), Washi Tape, stickers, and small scrapbooking supplies in my Happy Journal. If I don’t pen and paper (or in my case index cards) is all I need.

Do you keep an art journal or a gratitude journal?





3 thoughts on “Simple Creativity: Combining Doodling, Stick Figures, and Gratitude Journaling”

  1. Awesome, Marta! What a fun post.

    We have used index cards a lot in our home, but not as much recently. I think one of the reasons they can unleash a bit of creativity and clarity is that they are small and seemingly unimportant—you don’t feel writer’s block like you might with a larger piece of paper, and you don’t feel like you are ruining anything.

    I appreciate how you pulled so many topics into this post so seamlessly—journaling, gratitude (journaling), Jennie and her book coming out, doodling, creativity, using little bits of time, learning, making connections…wow!! Very fun.

  2. I think you will really enjoy the book it was fun to read and I loved the examples sprinkled throughout the book.

    That is one thing I like about the index cards, small and not intimidating which definitely helps with 1) not needing a ton of time to use, and 2) does not feel like a big blank page staring at you.

    Glad you signed up for her list to be notified!

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