A Day of Doodling at the "Speak Conference" / by Layl McDill

One of my favorite things to do is go to a meeting or talk and doodle as I listen.  Way back in high school I learned that I could concentrate better when I was drawing and I found that when I studied for tests I could remember my notes much better because I could visual the doodle they were next to.  Today I spent the day at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum at the "Speak! A Kindship of All Creatures" conference with my daughter Elliot.

I was able to attend this conference because I teach through the Nature Based Therapy Program. I have been teaching at such venues as Melrose Eating Disorder Institute and Struther's Parkinson Center for many years.  My daughter Elliot was interested in this conference because she is thinking of getting a puppy and training it to be a therapy dog.

Dr. Jean Larson, organized an amazing conference line up.  She probably didn't realize that it would provide the fuel for so many sketches as I sat and listened.  Dr. Balcombe's talk included some amazing images of fish which made their way to my sketchbook - now when I look at each fish I am reminded of the fascinating story of that fish's special skill or adaptation. 

speak fish.jpg

I also doodled around loose sketches that I had drawn in pencil a few years ago.  These are great structures to hang my patterns on.  I'm thinking the one I did today will need to become a "scribble scape" someday soon.  When I transform it into clay I feel like I will be reminded of the whole conference all over again.  I am sure some of the ideas will seep into the finished piece as I discover more of the truths it will reveal.  

Zoe Weil's talk "Becoming a Solutionary" ended with a directed visualization where she asked us to imagine ourselves at the end of our lives talking to a young person about how we made the world a better place.  I thought of two things I do right now... one- I pick up every plastic bag I see as I bike from place to place.  Not huge but it's got to help a bit.  And two I hope to make art that is "subtle activism" a quote that I heard last week at a WARM (Women's Art Resources of MN) event.  

My sketchbooks are troves of sparks waiting to ignite into pieces.  These particular sparks that started today seem even more filled with fuel because of the setting of their birth.