Coffee shop couple

More and more, I find myself wanting to work at the intersection of my two passions – writing and doodling. I’ve been playing in the sandbox a bit already, with my cards, Obscure Word Doodles and illustrated posts, but I’m feeling a need to push myself a little harder so I’m starting a new series on the blog called “Coffee Shop Moments.”

For a while now, I’ve been posting on Facebook the really cool little moments that I often witness when I’m writing in coffee shops. Now I’m going to start posting them here with some original “coffee shop” art.


I’m excited about this because it will give me a chance to A) practice my hand lettering (which I sorely need to do), B) experiment with some different doodling techniques and tools, and C) justify the time I spend shamelessly eavesdropping on people in coffee shops.

Plus, I think it will be fun, and probably a little embarrassing as I come up against the edges of my capabilities again and again… but that’s how the edges get moved, right? As I was writing this post, Maria Popova, from Brain Pickings, posted this quote from Amelia Earhart: “The more one does the more one can do.”

That’s what I’m hoping!

Okay, enough explanation. Here’s my first Coffee Shop Moment…

Coffee shop couple



On a completely different note, thank you BIG to everyone who took a minute (literally) to watch and vote for The Boy’s 50-second Teens Drive Smart video, “Rules of the Road.” I have no way of knowing how we’re doing, so I’m forced to keep reminding people to visit the top 10 finalists page, watch “Rules of the Road,” vote for it, and share it. Votes will be accepted until 11:59 EST on July 28th. The top three vote-getting videos will win substantial scholarship money, and I can’t tell you how much that would help us.

And I promise, this is the last time I’ll bring it up on the blog. (Unless we win. Then I will doodle you something spectacular to show my appreciation.)

Click here to vote.


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28 Responses to Coffee shop couple

  1. cmw July 25, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    I love the cups and table piece. Coming from a guy who builds 3D cad models, your perspective is right on!

    Keep on keeping on babe.

    • j July 25, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Well, you did teach me a little perspective trick… No, not that one. The one about drawing coffee cups on a table! ;)

      Thanks, C. xo

  2. Christie July 25, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I agree with the brilliant cmw!

    Beautiful piece j…so looking forward to more :^)


    • Christie July 25, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      Forgot to mention how I loved your handwritten note as well. The rings and the smudges really add to the artistry…lovely!

      • j July 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

        Aw, thank you. I really want to work on my hand-lettering; I’m very self-conscious about it right now. But making coffee rings was fun. ;)

  3. Marcie July 25, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Love witnessing how you’re creatively pushing the edge of your comfort zone…blossoming and growing! Love the doodle…:-)

    • j July 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Thanks, Marcie. About half the time I feel excited by the possibilities and the other half of time, I’m daunted by the magnitude of what I don’t know. I’m sure you’re VERY familiar with that internal dissonance. It’s probably a good thing.

    • Estrella Azul August 1, 2013 at 4:55 am #

      Same thoughts here, j.
      Love that doodle, and how you inspire me to push myself a bit more.

      I recall this moment from when you shared it before, and still love it. Now, it looks even prettier – plus that’s a cool touch with the coffee cup stains <3
      Looking forward to more coffee chop moments!

  4. Naomi Wittlin July 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    I love your doodle and what you said about just beginning and trying to create no matter what the outcome. I stop myself before even beginning too.

    • j July 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Thank you, Naomi.

      I really think we all struggle with our desire to be right out of the starting gate. I watched two little girls paint tiles and boards at a crafty place in Berkeley, and they were so fearless and matter of fact about it. No over-thinking, no criticism (self or otherwise), no angst or self-consciousness – just fearless creation for creation’s sake. I thought, “When did I stop being able to do that?”

      My goal now is to get back there.

  5. julia July 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    I hope you know how brilliant you are. It is so inspiring to me, J, how you continuously move those edges, how you keep showing up, struggle and all. I feel so lucky to witness your beautiful unfolding.

    Your doodles continue to blow me away.

    How I would love to have a coffee shop moment with you…we would be very quiet because we’d both be shamelessly eavesdropping. How fun would that be?

    Huge hugs.

    P.S: Keeping my fingers crossed for the boy…

    • j July 29, 2013 at 8:16 am #

      We will have a coffee shop moment (or rather, bunches of them), Julia. I just can’t see a future in which that does not exist. Thank you for always being so encouraging – here, and all those other times when I bother you privately with my inane “how do I ” atist-newbie questions. xoxo

      p.s. Thank you for crossing your fingers! Mine are crossed too. Now we wait…

  6. chloecook999 July 25, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Coffee shop moments are the best. I think I could spend hours in a coffee shop just watching people. Can’t wait for the next one you choose to share with us :) xx

    • j July 29, 2013 at 8:17 am #

      Me too! And sometimes, I just stunned by the beauty you can see if you just pay attention. Thank you, Chloe!

  7. Karin July 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    That’s amazing.

    I wrote a poem about being the observer in the coffee shop–about how I’m always watching, observing others. I’m sure it’s creepy to others if they noticed, but I usually get more enjoyment out of seeing what they do and trying to figure them out. It’s like a mystery, like a puzzle. :)

    • j July 29, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      When my boys were little, I would often make up stories about strangers. Stuff like, “That man over there is pining for that woman over there. He’s shy so he’s pretending not to notice her but secretly, he’s hoping she’ll notice him. That’s why he dressed up today.”

      When you can’t figure them out, make stuff up! :)

  8. Pam July 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Looking forward to more coffee shop moments! (It’s fun to draw coffee cups, isn’t it?)
    I would love that couple, too.


    • j July 29, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      It is fun to draw coffee cups; I wonder why that is! (Although for me, it was mostly fun to draw the steam.)

  9. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) July 29, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    I love the coffee shop moments idea! Are you familiar with Tumblr? I ask because I can see this being its own tumblr. I know I would reblog something like this! (It works here too, though!)

    • j July 29, 2013 at 8:26 am #

      I am familiear with Tumblr in that I have seen some very cool blogs there. (Are they called blogs on Tumblr?) But I can’t figure out how it works (because I haven’t tried). I may look into that though. Tumblr’s big and getting bigger.

      I have a giant note on my to-do list this week that says, “Figure out Pinterest.” And since all I want to do these days is write and draw and walk my dog in pretty places, I can only tackle one social media technology at a time. (And, apparently, not even that, given this note has been on my to-do list for about a month!)

  10. Donna B. July 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    I voted for him. I also enjoyed your Coffee Shop observations and your doodles. Always a joy to stop and see what you are up to.

    • j July 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      Thank you, Donna! And it is always a joy to see you here. Big hug.

  11. KjM July 30, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    A beautiful slice of the world, J, and beautifully rendered – Coffee shop couple.

    I envy you your lettering, as I do all the artistry you splash with such abandon across the web. The world is made more beautiful because of it.

    Keep poking at those edges. They’re ticklish and leap back to make more room. Honest!

    • j July 31, 2013 at 8:15 am #

      “The world is made more beautiful because of it” may be the best compliment anyone’s ever given me, Kevin. I’m going to make a doodle out of that and put it up on my wall to remind me why do this when the going gets tough. (I’ll send you a copy of the doodle.)


  12. Cynthia Fassett July 31, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    I wish there was a “love” button for what Julia stated so perfectly. I am also loving to watch you, and your art, unfold through this creative process for the past 2 years, even from afar. <3 You are indeed an inspiration!

    I LOVE, love the coffee shop idea! And your drawings are amazing. And yes, the rings…love that!

    I've been experiencing these kind of moments in the little general store where I work. At work last night, a fellow employee stated he always hates coming in, and I immediately responded, "Really? I don't. I look at all those people coming into the store and think of stories and characters." And I do. There have been precious moments -right now, I'm thinking of an elderly couple who had a romance in SC, 3 years prior, but then he had to move because of business, so they kept in touch from afar. Finally, she couldn't stand it anymore, and packed up and moved here to be with him. She told me all this while she waited for him. When he finally arrived…the looks on their faces…and the way he opened his arms, and she just melted into them with a little cry…and then he set her a little apart from him, and looked right into her eyes, and said, "Let's go home." I couldn't help it! It touched my heart so strongly, I got all teary. There have been crazy moments, like the guy who walked in one night without any pants on! (He'd been at a party and his friends ripped them off him! He was drunk, lol). All the farmers talking about crops and weather. And this town…the connection they all have, the chats by the fuel pumps…I don't know, it's amazing, and magical!

    Regarding pushing at edges…I never really saw myself writing fiction. Okay, I never thought I could. But you've inspired me to keep at it, and I am truly loving it. And I agree with just doing it, not worrying about perfection as it comes out. Editing will come later. But even that was kind of challenge for me, because I got used to editing as I went. In storytelling, that's a bit harder to do, nearly impossible really. I've found I have to truly let go, and let the story unfold as it will. I'll piece it together later. I can't believe how much fun I'm having with it!

    • j July 31, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      That is something I’ve never mastered as a writer. I can, sometimes, briefly, check the critic at the door and churn out a wild and unrestrained (shitty) first drat, but most of the time, it’s a wrestling match. I’m so glad you’re finding your rhythm and that it’s letting you get your beautiful words onto the page.

      Your description of the store and its customers and, in particular, the reunited couple… magic. Thank you for that! <3

      Next launch will be my illustrated love stories. I have two already. Maybe your elderly couple can be Number 3.

  13. Rosie Grey October 25, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    Beautiful! I love your drawings and the description of that couple is so vivid – I can clearly see them!

    • j October 25, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Thank you, Rosie. They were such a wonderful sight.

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