31 Inspirational Artists for Black History Month: Aaron Douglas by Simone Brewster

The Father of black American art. 

Aaron Douglas artist on Simone Brewster blog

How could I start writing about a series of black artists and not start off with Aaron Douglas? That would be like writing about soul music and not starting with James Brown or writing about gangster films and not beginning with The Godfather. 
Looking at the work alone you can see that although Douglas is clearly of his time he still speaks to the sensibilities of today. Simplified use of form, washes of colour and clear storytelling are all key instruments in Douglas's playbook. 

Douglas decided he wanted to be an artist and so studied a BA (1922) in art. Soon after its completion he was the winner of a scholarship to study with German illustrator Winold Reiss. During this period Reiss would encourage Douglas to engage with his African ancestry for artistic inspiration. These words of advice must have  hit home as Douglas would go on to produce illustrations for the NAACP magazine The Crisis and Opportunity.

Douglas's style saw a fusion of his interests in African art and modernism. These would be expressed in conjunction with art deco and Egyptian style elements into his work. He would become a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

The 1930's were a key time for Douglas with him producing some of his best work. It would begin in 1930, and being hired to paint a mural for Fisk University. 
In 1931 he would travel to Paris, where he studied with Charles Despiau and Othon Friesz. On his return to New York in 1933, Douglas had his first solo show.
It was also during this time that he would undertake one of his most recognised collection of paintings; a group of murals entitled "Aspects of Negro Life" that occupied four panels with each highlighting a different part of the African-American life and experience. Each painting blended Douglas's influences, which spanned music and jazz to the African, geometric art and abstract arts.

Aaron Douglas artist on Simone Brewster blog

A Year in Chains: Not a Piece of π by Simone Brewster

"Mathematics is the music of reason. "

It was always going to be an ambitious task for me to undertake the first few weeks of a Year in Chains during July and August. These weeks past I have been in the deep end of teaching. So far deep that I began to reflect upon how long I have been teaching and how it's impacted my life so far. My first job wasn't as a shop assistant or on a newspaper round, it was actually as a maths tutor.

My father had made sure that all of his children were keen mathematicians, regardless of how keen we really were! At a young age we were introduced to the subject and we were tasked with wrapping our heads around simultaneous equations, trigonometry, integration, by which I don't mean the delicate art of fitting in.

A 21st century torture device

A 21st century torture device

The most acute symbol of this element of my childhood was the "gift" of a maths book from my grandmother, which contained torturous questions and beautifully drawn diagrams, composed of elegant curved parabolic lines, circles, rhombuses, kites... 

In tackling these demons I would require a key ingredient; the handy ruler and protractor set. 

Simone Brewster Rulers

These sets are a classic. Not only did everyone have them, but they were the central tools in helping me visualise the myriad of problems I was tasked with overcoming. They were also so basic in their form; triangle, rectangle, semi circle, each working together or resting together in its case. 

This trip down memory lane left me wanting to play with these simple stacking shapes and forms to see how their interaction could be built into something both complex and beautiful.
Is it possible to play with a set range of geometric shapes and use them to construct the beginnings of a piece of adornment?

Simone Brewster A year in chains maths
Simone Brewster A Year in Chains maths 2
Simone Brewster A Year in Chains maths 3
Simone Brewster A Year in Chains 4
Simone Brewster Composition for strength 1
Simone Brewster composition 2
Simone Brewster composition 3
Simone Brewster composition 4

These compositions are really just the beginning of scratching an itch. These itches are of course ideas that niggle at me until I find a way to bring them to light. 
Needless to say they are not necklaces, at least not yet. What they are will become apparent as I continue to play and formulate the ideas that are coming up. 
What is very clear however, is that this project is not going to be a piece of pi. 

Hidden Meanings: Negress & Mammy by Simone Brewster

"The  calling of art is to extract us from our daily reality, to bring us to a hidden truth that's difficult to access -
to a level that's not material but spiritual.

Simone Brewster Negress and Mammy

The years are tallying up between when I first conceived of the idea for The Negress & Mammy seating element and table. Since it's first public appearance in 2010 and now, many of the same questions which arise surrounding this piece are still being asked.

Why do they have breasts?
Is it meant to black?
Why did you choose to express these ideas in furniture and not just sculpture?
Where did
this idea come from?


In 2010, British artist Chris Ofili was given a solo show at The Tate Britain. This exhibition, which would be Ofili's first at the Tate Britain, saw such a successful turn out that it's show dates were extended to accommodate for the unpredicted crowds. I was one of those to attend and be jolted by the work and voice of an individual whose position seemed to align with my own.   

Chris Ofili, Triple Beam Dreamer, 2001-02

Chris Ofili, Triple Beam Dreamer, 2001-02

There was not one singular thing that impressed me when viewing the range of artworks on display but many. 
The layered surfaces within the early canvases, which combined at least three levels of detail, bringing together laboured pointillism over a wash of colour, glitter and resin. These were often exampled on a large scale with canvases towering over the viewer or spanning the length of a wall. 

Detail from No Woman No Cry Small photographs of murdered youth Steven Laurence are collaged into this crying mothers tears. 

Detail from No Woman No Cry
Small photographs of murdered youth Steven Laurence are collaged into this crying mothers tears. 

Ofili, who represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2003 is one of few artists who have reached Turner Prize winning heights (1998) creating works that embrace and empower a decidedly black position, with humour, insight, playful exoticism and a boastful embracing of the sub cultures he must have been exposed to during his life in London. This subject matter was not just impactful, it was honest and recognisable.
Ofili was painting from a lens which I had also gazed through.

"When I left the Royal College, I decided I would only make paintings that I would want to look at myself, that felt close to my life."
hris Ofili

The aftermath of the exhibition was one of reflection. Why was I not producing more of the work I felt missing from the world? 
This was an impossible question, which lead me on a path of research and reflection. A path that would ultimately shape the beginnings of my personal practice and unleash my voice as an artist. 
It was time for me to screw my courage to the sticking place in the hope that I would not fail. 

Murmurs of The Negress

In the period of research which followed I came across many works, but two paintings in particular wouldn't stop returning to my mind. These were paintings created by artists of different gender, nationality and undertaken 20 years apart. However themes of Négritude and African Postmodernism unite the two. 
The first was The Negress, by Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral and the second The Murmur by Cuban artist of mixed heritage, Wifredo Lam

The Negress (La Negra), 1923 Tarsila do Amaral

The Negress (La Negra), 1923 Tarsila do Amaral

The Murmur, 1943 Wifredo Lam

The Murmur, 1943 Wifredo Lam

Tarsila's The Negress, displays a subject who sits, a monumental pile of flesh gazing out from the canvas, naked. Both revealing and concealing herself. A sculptural presence of mass, volume and power and an early example of Tarsila's response to the eras uptake and devouring of African inspired European primitivism which was being explored by artists (Picasso, Fernand Léger ) at the time. 

Lam's The Murmur presented a hybrid other. The figure who stands amongst the palm leaves and forest foliage is hardly female, only through the breasts are we assured of the gender of this otherworldly being. In this painting we see Lam reappropriate primitivism, exploring it from the decidedly Caribbean landscape. 

The forms and presence of these two paintings were far from beautiful and in Lam's case somewhat disturbing, but also engaging in their unforgiving reclamation of identity.

  Finding A Home

Being a true Londoner I am happy to be able to frequent one of city's best attractions, the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was on one of these visits that I realised some things.
What became apparent was the lack of artifacts both historical and contemporary that spoke to the joint history and the intertwined relationship of the African nations and the Great British land I call home. 
However, those items which they do have were symbolically rich, and again acted as a reinforcement of my belief that the domestic objects which we choose to surround ourselves with, are as much proclamations of our ideals and identity as the clothes we wear, the books we read and the art we hang.   

Two artifacts which stood out in particular were table figurines of black women. At this time the female form was used as part a visual metaphor representing the Four Continents.

Object: Figure Place of origin: Meissen, Germany (made) Made: ca. 1745-1750 Artist/Maker: Eberlein, Johann Friedrich

Object: Figure
Place of origin: Meissen, Germany (made)
Made: ca. 1745-1750
Artist/Maker: Eberlein, Johann Friedrich

Object: Figure Place of origin: Derby, England (made) Made: ca. 1785-1790 Artist/Maker: Derby Porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Object: Figure
Place of origin: Derby, England (made)
Made: ca. 1785-1790
Artist/Maker: Derby Porcelain factory (manufacturer)

"Africa’ was conventionally depicted as a black woman with ‘an Elephant’s Head for her Crest; a Necklace of Coral; and Pendents of the same, at her Ears; a Scorpion in her right Hand, and a Cornucopia, with Ears of Corn, in her left; a fierce Lion by her, on one Side, and a Viper and Serpent on the other."

Victoria & Albert Museum

Decorative objects such as these functioned as servers and were made to be viewed during meals. Later evolutions were solely decorative, however their symoblic use remained the same. 
Functioning as visual reminders of their owners position and power, suggesting a relationship to slave ownership and in the case of sugar servers, a connection to plantations and the growing trade in sugar. 

Design  Art

On the occasions which my work is displayed in public, the same questions emerge.
Though framed in different ways the essence of the inquiry speaks to the positioning of the piece and the consequent sphere the work is to be viewed within. These questions are usually accompanied by a quizzical look and tilted head, "Is this sculpture or furniture? Why make furniture and not just a sculpture?" 

Negress chaise lounge by Simone Brewster

The decision was conscious. 
I decided to make an object with function, specifically because it was an object which would be expected to serve silently instead of "speaking out".
Tables, chairs, beds, stands, these objects live to support our lifestyle. They generate the atmosphere of our environments and serve us in our daily activities. They exist as part of the canvas of our homes, blending together to create the narrative of the self we wish to project to the outside worlds and to ourselves.
In the same way the porcelain table figurines spoke of their owners connections to plantations, western conquest and the slave trade, our contemporary objects speak of our self perceived and real positions in the world. We curate these objects, consciously or unconsciously to speak of our tastes, desires, aspirations and beliefs. 

The supporting elements of this seat and table are made up of deconstructed black female forms. This broken woman complied of her voluminous parts, comes together to uphold the surfaces which rest upon them, providing function.
Quietly in service. 

What's In A Name?

The original Mammy  

The original Mammy


In naming these two pieces, it was essential that they call out or in the very least indicate where some of the inspirations behind the final objects were founded. 
The Negress took its name from the aforementioned painting. This choice was quite linear, with the finished object calling upon multiple references and acting as a bridge from the present to the past and the future. But more obviously, the chaise lounge was clearly female, imposing, bold and black. 

Maybe more obscure was The Mammy. Hattie McDaniel ( above right) played Mammy to Scarlett O'Hara's (Vivian Leigh, left) in Gone With The Wind. McDaniel was the first ever African American to receive the Oscar, which was awarded at the 12th Academy Awards in 1939 for the role of Mammy. 
Her supporting role to Leigh's lead was near impossible to forget. 
The Mammy Table sits along side the Negress in a supporting role, that balances out the presence of the larger article.  

The subjects which were raised throughout the research and design process is rich enough to extend beyond these two artifacts. The Negress & Mammy are the start of a growing body of work which will look at the theme of the hidden stories and messages within the objects that occupy our homes. 


In Process: Beyond The Surface of Things by Simone Brewster

"What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognise the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed? 

My recent foray in mark making was really the tip of quite a substantial iceberg that has been floating in the back of my mind for a while, waiting for the right idea to crash into. I'm still not so sure what this will become but by pulling that thread of thought it opened up a wide range of other questions, and left me thinking:

What happens when you make your mark and it leaves a scar?

Simone Brewster scarification skin 1

That question led me to my library (my bookcase) where I dragged out a treasure I've had for some years "The Decorated Body" by Robert Brain. The cover alone lets you know why this came to mind. The book which explores a range of body marks, scars, costumes and adornment has one of the most striking covers I've seen. The example of human scarification displays how marks have been made on the canvas of the body, with the results being an extruded decorative skin texture. The image on the cover is actually quite a beautiful, simple and tame example, when taken to the extreme, scars can be produced that almost reform the body. 

Simone Brewster African Body Art

The reasons and symbolism behind body adornment in these more permanent ways are vast and vary from people to people. However, the use and placement of marks was not confined to the body.
It was not unusual for certain objects to be treated in the same way as the skin, via painting and cutting, adorning the surface of the item with marks of importance. This personification of the object is so direct that it begins to speak to the core about our connection to the objects which surround us.

Storage vessel Kurumba peoples Burkina Faso Mid 20th century, Ceramic

Storage vessel
Kurumba peoples Burkina Faso
Mid 20th century, Ceramic

Headrest Master of Mulongo Luba peoples Democratic Republic of the Congo Mid-late 19th century, Wood

Master of Mulongo Luba peoples
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mid-late 19th century, Wood

At first, this relationship may seem alien to wider Western and contemporary culture. However, we can also question how the high shine, smooth, blemishless finish on many luxury "power" objects and the rise in the use of photoshop's polishing of the human form to a hyper-real level of perfection does suggest that the ideals with which we hold our bodies and those of our objects are related... Or maybe the perfection possible in the machined object is in turn causing us to question and improve/remove the human condition, from our naturally imperfect façades.  

Either way, the relationship between our bodies and our objects lives in today's society surreptitiously and with possible insidious effect. 

How do these thoughts come together in form?

I am not enough of a daredevil to try scarification, however I do want to explore the relationship between, mark making and the surface or skin of an object. With these two ingredients I returned to a position of play and began creating my own textures and surfaces which may in time become alternative skins. 

Simone Brewster surface scarification 1
Simone Brewster scarification 2
Simone Brewster scarification 4
Simone Brewster scarification 5
Simone Brewster fur scarification
Simone Brewster scarification objects

In Process: Make Your Mark by Simone Brewster

"The  artist never entirely knows- We guess.
We may be wrong, but we take a leap in the dark."


They say the hardest thing about any idea is getting it out of your head and into the world. 
In the case of the artist or designer, that process is usually the act of making a drawing. Still in this day and age of 3D models and computer technology, the first step of developing an idea is usually picking up a pencil and moving it across a blank sheet of paper. 

And it is usually at this stage that you realise the empty page asks so many questions. 
What should I be, should we start at the top or the bottom. What do you want to say?

Sometimes the easiest way to overcome these questions is not to find the answers before hand, but to unravel them as you go.
Action over thinking.
Bringing the thought to life then reflecting afterwards. or treating creation much more like conversation, allowing the words to form far more fluidly with an idea of what you want to convey whilst allowing the freedom of these words to flow and form as you speak. 

Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 1
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 2
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 3
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 4
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 5
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 6
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 7
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 8
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 9
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 11
Simone Brewster Mark Making drawing 12

These marks were just marks... at first. 
But introducing some play they do become the start of an interesting investigation into texture and pattern.

Creative Contemporaries: Eleanor Lakelin by Simone Brewster

Simone Brewster on Eleanor Lakelin

"The happiness of a man in this life doesn't consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions." 


Are you thinking it too? That this vessel has an otherworldly quality that makes you want to touch it. Well you're not alone! 
I first saw the work of Eleanor Lakelin years ago, and it was one of those strange experiences when you can't quite figure out how someone could have created such masterful and beautiful work. The wood, cleverly manipulated in form and texture to produce objects that call simultaneously upon sensory experiences, nature and memory. I was taken back by the simple thought of the hours spent in producing these mesmerising textures and beautifully turned forms. 

It is not often that you meet someone whose work you have built a relationship, but I have been placed in that fortunate position now as one of the participants selected to be part of The Craft Council's A Future Made. Eleanor Lakelin has been showing new work as part of A Future Made: Nature Lab in Design Miami/Basel and I can't say I'm not excited to see the pieces she will be producing over these coming months. 

Simone Brewster on Eleanor Lakelin

Eleanor's approach differs to my own in many ways not least in her responsive approach to the material at hand. She states:

"I am interested in the way natural elements and processes layer and colour wood and how the passage of time is etched into the fibres of the material. I peel back bark to reveal the organic chaos that can exist in the material itself or build up layers of texture through carving and sandblasting."

Eleanor Lakelin

Needless to say Lakelin has mastered a method of exploration that gives life to beautiful and wonder-filled objects. Although self taught, she is clearly a master and a wizard in wood! Her Cockpits Arts based studio houses a wonder of woods and wood carving tools. However, if you can't wait till the next open studios you will be able to pop over to Creative Applied Arts, where you can find her Eroding Form, Time and Texture series. I myself am left inspired and hopeful in waiting for viewing her next works.

If Tyson's statement is true we can assume Eleanor Lakelin should be a very happy woman indeed. 

In Process: Texture Hunt by Simone Brewster

Simone Brewster Blog Texture Hunt Rocks

"Little moments can have a feeling and a texture that is very real" 



I'm on a little bit of a texture hunt right now. In fact I have been since the start of the year.
I guess it was sparked by a trip up north beyond the boarder. I was lucky enough to go and visit Scotland and see a bit of that colour I don't seem to spend time in so much down here in London, what's it called again....Green! I felt far enough from my London home so that I could really appreciate the beauty in the difference from my usual built environment. On one such trip I couldn't help but admire the rocks, the patterns of the seaweed and the... sludge.

Simone Brewster Blog Texture Hunt Seaweed
Simone Brewster seaweed process

The natural forms I saw on this trip have been sitting with me for a while now and as my mind continues to return to them, I'm sure they will start to influence some of the new ideas forming and the experiments that I'm undertaking. However, part of the process is giving ideas space. So I'll probably let this one germinate for a little longer and see what grows. 

Creative Contemporaries: Kerry James Marshall by Simone Brewster

"You can wait for somebody to let you get in the door- or you can assume your place among equals and put yourself in the world too, and put yourself in the stories that you want to see told"



Finding your place in the world takes a long time. In fact, I believe it takes a lifetime; especially if we push ourselves to continue learning and evolving. However, reading the statement by artist Kerry James Marshall took me back to my time studying at the Royal College of Art.

It was a time when I was actively asking questions and looking for my place in the world and one where, to the annoyance of my tutors, I didn't always listen, or claim my space. I distinctly recall one of my tutors stating to me that he felt I had something important to say and he didn't know why I wouldn't say it... That's a pretty impressive thing to hear at the age of 23 and one that I didn't really agree with at the time or understand.  It took me quite a few years to begin to grasp his meaning, years beyond the scope of my Masters to fully take on board what he saw in me that I, at the time didn't. However, with that change there came an evolution in the work I produced and a better understanding of the work I felt was missing in the world.

Why do I say this now, in conjunction with showing the beautifully detailed work of Birmingham, Alabama born Mr. Marshall?

Many of us still believe in the myth of the lone genius, and as artist Austin Kleon states
"If you believe in the lone genius myth, creativity is an antisocial act, performed by only a few great figures — mostly dead men with names like Mozart, Einstein, or Picasso. The rest of us are left to stand around and gawk in awe at their achievements."

I am not one to stand and gawk, and I'm not holding my breath in being labelled a genius either. The inspiration and energy which goes in to producing my own work is not one that stands alone. It is an organic entity which grows and responds to the myriad of ideas being produced now by my creative contemporaries.

The words of Kerry James Marshall, as much as the stunning work itself, lays a foundation stone for thoughts and ideas to grow within my own practice. Sharing with you here a few examples of his work, I hope you find the value in this measured works.

Kerry James Marshall at Simone Brewster
Kerry James Marshall at Simone Brewser
Kerry James Marshall at Simone Brewster

Kerry James Marshall is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery and is currently showing in, Kerry James Marshall: MASTRY on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through September 25, 2016

A Year In Chains by Simone Brewster

Simone Brewster Gold Chain

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."


When was the last time you played intelligently?

What do I mean? I mean playing is one of the best things we can do to keep our minds active and enjoy ourselves but also to learn and see things from a different perspective. As I grow older I realise just how little I play intelligently in my day to day life, truly allowing for chance, for dead-end avenues, for things to be done in the spirit of exploration and enjoyment and not in the desire to solve an immediate brief or problem. Much of my best work has come from when I haven't been afraid to ask the silly questions and take them seriously. Seriously enough to look into them, find cultural, personal and emotional relevance and see how these findings could resonate in objects that don't just speak of me, but to me... and hopefully to you too. 

The question that seems to return to me right now is closely connected to time.

What is a year?
Is it three hundred and sixty-five and one quarter days? Is it 20 dates, 5 private views, 10 pizza nights in and a bonus on the job? 

With my birthday being almost already a month ago to the day, I find myself chewing these questions over. The answers I digest are usually more based around the importance of the memories I make, the objects I make and the people I meet that enrich and alter my life.

On balance, a year can be many things, but one thing we can agree on, is that once the time has past it's gone, to remain untouched, unchanged and unused, fossilised in memory or forgotten all together. 

How sobering is that thought!
Which brings us back to Plato's insightful comment about play. Maybe the best way to enjoy, record and learn during the passage of a year is to play. Play intelligently; looking for something and nothing in particular, but enjoying the process of producing without the built in requirements for the perfect answer, the right answer or even an answer at all.

I decided to engage myself in intelligent play and give myself the space of two week check points to review my doings.
Looking over my body of work, necklaces have always been a sure way in to thinking outside the box... I mean how many people do you know that think about making one of these... and then actually make one?

Simone Brewster Conversation in Weight necklace

Needless to say, I am excited right now and up for the challenge of exploring the ideas, inspirations, emotions and events that cross my life's path over the next 365 days and playing with the idea of necklaces, or chains as the post title says, as a means of marking out the boundaries of my game. 

I would really like it if you came along for the journey, you won't have to pack anything but knowing that you're there to top me up when I'm running low on gas will make all the difference. Either way you'll have the opportunity to pop in and learn a little about me and the way I play over these next 12 months. 

Expect my first chain in two weeks time and sign up below to join the mailing list on A Year In Chains.

Unfinished Business: 01 by Simone Brewster

Simone Brewster unfinished business 1

Unfinished business isn't just something that happens between people, I find that I have so many ideas and simple distractions that leaving thoughts half explored and things incomplete is becoming something of a habit. 

Simone Brewster Unfinished Business Earrings 1

I found myself looking through some storage boxes and coming across a wealth of half formed ideas and good intentions. 
Instead of telling myself off for not screwing my courage to the sticking point as one Lady Macbeth once put it, I found myself strangely liberated. 

I realised I was able to return to these incomplete stories with fresh eyes, new thoughts and a burst of energy. 
Wouldn't it be nice to finish off some of these things?
Of course it would. The real question is where will this exploration into the unfinished take me? 
Stay tuned to see...

Love From Istanbul by Simone Brewster

Hello everyone I am in rainy Istanbul right now and of course all I can think about is the tropics. I am teaching a short course in IMA (Istanbul Moda Academisi, the equivalent of a London College of Fashion) on the topic of Portfolio Design and Presentation. This is a topic I know very well and have been teaching for the last 5 years. It's funny how many people have amazing pieces of work and no idea how to show it. Great ideas are not made in one step, but many and the process itself is like a journey. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, normally difficult and usually worth it in the end. 

This also made me realise how little of my process I actually share with you! The people taking the time out to read this post. I thought it would be great that in the build up to this years London Design Festival, I will keep you updated on the creative process behind the show I will be presenting (which is set to be a stunner).

As with all creative processes we start with gathering inspiration.... which is the same as gathering information. 

In memory of brighter days I am looking towards images that make me think of the sun and more importantly the breeze flowing through the leaves and the waves crashing on the shore of a white sand beach....

Board 1

-Poster extract Hellopanos http://portfolio.hellopanos.co.uk/
-Painting by Monica Ramos http://www.monramos.com/
-Photography by Charles Heedenhttps://www.behance.net/gallery/Birds/8088745
-Jewellery by Liron Kligerhttps://www.facebook.com/LironKligerJewellery


Board 2

Photography-  Fernand Fonssagrives

Illustration- Michelle Robinson 

Idle Hands by Simone Brewster

Diploma sketchbook 1.jpg
Diploma sketchbook 1.jpg

The devil makes work for idle hands, so I have been keeping mine busy with paper and play. 
It's quite amazing what such a basic and often forgotten material can offer us creative people. As a material it's availability and affordability makes it one of my go to materials when exploring forms or just looking for something for my fingers to do.