Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure.
~ Natalie Goldberg, from Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
You can find a whole bunch of tutorials and classes and even books on the art of doodling. I was amazed at first at how much doodling is out there, and even that doodling is its own art genre. My doodling has never seemed more exciting than little hearts and flowers around my name on the front of my notebook from grade school.
Here’s the thing, though. Doodling is the way to free up your hand and your inner critic. Just like trying to paint faster than the inner critic can, or trying to write faster than the inner critic can, doodling is drawing faster than the inner critic.
Doodling doesn’t have to be planned out ahead of time, it doesn’t have to be some serious realistic drawing, but of course it can be. It doesn’t have any rules. It’s simply about getting pen or pencil (or whatever tools you want to use) to the paper and getting started.
If you feel unsure about how to get started, or you’re fighting some kind of block, just start with one shape. A circle, a swoosh, a heart, a flower, an eyeball, a hand. It doesn’t matter, really, just get something down on the paper. Then start doodling around that shape. Add some scalloping to the swoosh. Try adding some curly q’s coming off of the scallop. Draw circles around the perimeter after that, and so on. As long as you just keep going, as long as you draw fast enough that your inner critic simply hasn’t been alerted to the fact that you’re drawing, you’ll get through the immediate blockage.
I have the same bashfulness about drawing as do many artists. I have to coerce myself into sitting down and practicing. I’d rather work on something I already know that I’m good at. And I rationalize to myself that I like painting abstracts anyway, so why do I need to practice drawing faces or buildings or apples??
In the end, even if you do prefer to work in abstracts, learning to draw will make a difference. Once you can see with the clear eye that is needed to draw something, all of your art will improve. It’s not nearly so important that you end up drawing the perfect and loveliest realistic faces, as it is to be able to clearly see the faces, to clearly see the shapes and shadows and nuances that go into that face. It’s all about improving our vision, our mind’s eye. Whatever comes next will be that much more amazing.
Yesterday I worked on a doodle that is the front page in my newest journal (I don’t work chronologically in most of my journals). I actually mapped out much of my doodle in a peach-colored pencil and then worked on painting. I used acrylic craft paints, and then I doodled on top of that with Sumi waterproof ink.* I filled an Aqua Flow brush with the Sumi ink, and it is one of pens of choice. Even with the smaller brush, it works best for larger lines and not so much for small journal writing. The awesome thing is it will write on anything and I use the waterproof ink, which really will not smudge once it’s dry!
*We have a running conversation going on the comments section about pens we like to use on the Step 4 post of my How to Use Ephemera series. We would love to hear your thoughts on writing tools!
I’m not sure if this is ultimately a done doodle, but so far so good. My basic starting shape was a paisley sort of shape. Then I just added doodles to those.
Prompt: Pick a shape to start a doodle page. Draw one or a bunch of the shapes. Build more doodles around that. Add color. Use the medium of your choice. Be sure to share with us links in the comment section to pics of what you create!