Art Beat: Doodling Through COVID-19

Nov 19, 2020

Brenda Murphy

COVID-19 is undeniably dominating our lives. Artist Brenda Murphy felt the discomfort of lockdown too. But her approach to it was different.


The pandemic brought out her creative side. Murphy began to doodle, and from her doodles was born a 46-page book: Squiggling Thru COVID-19: How this Artist Kept from Going Nuts During the Pandemic!

“I got tired of reading and watching TV,” Murphy says. “So I went down into my art studio and just started drawing. I picked up a pencil and just started drawing on a piece of paper, letting the pencil flow very freely and seeing what came out of it. And since I love working with bright colors and different media, I immediately picked up some markers and colored pens and started coloring it in.”

Credit Brendart

Murphy began to post some of her colorful doodles on her Facebook page, asking friends to comment on what they saw in them. She also asked them to help her title the drawings. Murphy was fascinated with the differences in the responses she received. The drawings worked a little like a Rorschach test, with hints of different personalities.

As Murphy accumulated more drawings and saw their online popularity, she gathered them into a book. She offered it for sale on the usual online sites as well as local bookstores. She also added the book to an Etsy page she keeps called Brendart, where she also offers a line of prints, notecards, and mugs.

Along with her signature bright colors, Murphy enjoys adding humor to her drawings.

“You have to have a sense of humor,” Murphy says. “Otherwise, how do you get through the day? Now especially, with the COVID pandemic and everything that is going on. It’s more important to find something that makes you smile.”

Murphy is originally from New York City but moved to the Kalamazoo area when her husband was transferred for work. She has degrees in chemistry and mathematics and she owned a market research company for 12 years. Murphy now keeps an art studio to keep her creative side flowing.

Murphy’s work has been shown in Kalamazoo, Saugatuck, Three Rivers, Saint Joseph, Richland and Battle Creek, and also on Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean. She studied art at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Ox-Bow, Western Michigan University, and Kalamazoo College.

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