DrawHappy 2011: A cup of nostalgia

The following is a post where I look back at DrawHappy, project I’ve been doing for a year. This article also appears in the project’s main site.

Looking back on this project, I remember how my heartbeat would begin to race every time I received an email with “DrawHappy submission” or “My happy drawing” in the subject line, when I would get a package in the mail, or when I approached a stranger and left that interaction with a sketch in my hand. Here are a few drawings with my own vivid memories attached to them.

The Iceland 100

1. Kindness by Arnar Snær

“When I see people do an act of kindness, that makes me feel truly happy.”

When one does a project, she will always remember the first stab at it, mainly because of the memory of feeling like a complete idiot, that the project wasn’t good, that the objectives weren’t thought out, that I should probably just go on being yet another tourist in Iceland and go hunt for the Northern Lights. But this kid was so nice and accommodating in spite of my unpracticed spiel. Moreover, “kindness” was something I did not expect and remains one of the most touching drawings I have ever received.

2. Family by Maria Sigurdordottir

It was closing time for most stores in Laugavegur, one of the big commercial streets in Reykjavik, and naturally I was turned away by most shopkeepers. This sketch, however, was from a girl who didn’t need to be forced into drawing; she held the sketchbook as a drill sergeant would hold a clipboard, and drew in the very precise strokes of a fashion designer. I walked back to my hostel feeling very accomplished and cold to the bone.

3. Stillness by Barbara

Earlier on in the project, I was in a bookstore’s cafe in downtown Reykjavik, trying to catch another stranger’s eye when I felt her staring at me. When I shyly asked her if she wanted to draw, I was almost apologetic, but she nodded understandably and said, “But all of life is a project!” I also appreciated her sketch especially because she wrote about the difficulty of drawing due to the intangibility of happiness.

4. Me on a sailing cheese by Swantje

Points for sheer imagination! This was in Iceland, and I left my Moleskine with her, went upstairs to take a shower. When I came back to the lobby, this is what she had. It’s one of the best uses of a pencil I have ever seen, done in less than two hours.

5. Control and attention by Rosa R.

I realize that having a stranger come up to you and being physically identified with your sketch may make people be extra-mindful of what they drew.  Sketching what arguably seems to be the darker side of our human desires was refreshingly raw and honest.


6. Moving forward by Humberto Martinez

Not only is it a gorgeous sketch, but the subjects of graphic designer and illustrator Humberto Martinez’s work, hummingbirds, is replete with symbolism. Hummingbirds are a symbol of love, joy, beauty, and resurrection. It is also the only bird that can fly backwards, and is therefore a reminder of looking back on one’s past. Did I mention it’s so gorgeous?

7. Jiu jitsu with my friends by Marta Ássimos

I loved this sketch because I do taekwondo and like her, martial arts is one of the things that make me so, so happy!

8. Godzilla by Jamiel Pridgen

I remember this drawing very clearly for the method in which I acquired it. Back when I was an intern at the American Museum of Natural History, I was line in the cafeteria when this extremely hyperactive guy in front of me started telling us a story. I told him about this project and left, thinking it was the end of it. A few days later while getting tickets for the planetarium, a security guard stared at me and asked, “Is your name Catherine?” He called Jamiel on his radio and he arrived, bearing three copies of this sketch and telling me he’s been looking for me everywhere. Quite fitting for someone who works in a natural history museum. Remind me to start making business cards.

9. Joy on sneakers by Brian Foo

I often receive gloriously imaginative drawings. On rare occasions, I get gloriously imaginative drawings by a joy evangelist. This has always been one of my favorite sketches.

10. Sun is joy! by Ilana Paterman

According to media art student and designer Ilana Paterman, this is a six-year-old sketch done during her first winter in Germany. I can relate, it being winter here in New York.

11. We still have options by Timothy J. Reynolds

I am always impressed by what can be done with a Moleskine. Very inspiring!”

12. A letter from Samah El Hakim

I love getting things in the mail, and this one from Lebanon made my day.

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