Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The art of the Doodle, the Doodle as Art

We've all done it.
We've all doodled.
Mindlessly while on hold, trying to reach the cable repair people, the doctor, the bank. In the margins of our notebooks when we were bored in class, daydreaming, distracted.
When I was small, I would doodle on the little envelopes meant for the offering tray at church, using the provided little pencil; to my young mind these items had been placed there solely for my creative use.

It may not seem like mindlessly creating art via the auto-doodle mode would result in full pages of joyous expression, but I intend to convince you otherwise.

The key to a glorious, full-page abstract doodle is to really believe that a doodle can go places, can be more than its seemingly goofy name implies. Here now are some ways to jump start a doodle, enhance and encourage it, celebrate it and magnify it! The techniques for doodling are truly numerous, so these are just a handful of ideas.

One way to create a full page doodle is by connecting random shapes via other random shapes. If you like, practice some basic shapes on some scrap paper to see which ones you repond to: swirls, stars, leaves, eggs, circles, squares, triangles, wiggly worms, flames, teardops. Once you are comfortable with creating shapes, scatter some randomly over the page you are filling:

The next step is to build a web of sorts between these shapes. Lines and wiggles are useful, other shapes can be squeezed in, too. By linking all the shapes together, we fill that negative space with vibrant and active lines that give the whole image a dynamic energy.

Looking for a different launching point? Consider using a word. Your name, a quotation, or just one bold word like JOURNEY, or DREAM. Let the tendrils, lines and shapes grow and build of this basic building block, until the overgrowth becomes a garden of wiggles and squiggles:

The best part about a doodle is it HAS NO RULES. Any material can be used. I myself am partial to Sharpie markers (the fumes are intoxicating; some say inspiring...others say headache inducing. Your mileage may vary!) I love the bold color and the bleed factor of the markers as they soak into bristol board. I have been know to doodle with silver pens, gel pens, pencils, paint, you name it. But mostly for the outlines, I come back to the black Sharpie.

Doodles do not need to represent anything. They do not need to speak your heart or be balanced or have proper perspective. Doodles do not judge. Doodles are the artistic equivalent of humming, whistling, taking a stroll, floating on a raft in the pool. They invite you to let go of expectations and inhibitions and let the lines wander.

Once my page is filled, if I want to take my doodle to the next level, I dress it up with color. Again, I am partial to brights and bolds here, but have done these with sparkling watercolors, colored pencils, markers, even crayons. You can limit your palette to blues and greens, reds and golds, whatever feels right, or go wild with all the colors of the rainbow! The doodles that follow were done with Sharpies:

This one was done with sharpie and watercolors

Here is some doodling used to fill spaces in a collage:

So go take doodling to the next level…let the pen wander and the mind follow….


Anonymous said...

I LOVE it! Permission to doodle! Doodling instructions!
YOU are an inspiration, Nici.
Your doodles are gorgeous (bet they didn't tell you that at church!) and I feel so freed up to go play with some Sharpies!



holly said...

Ahhhh, the power of the humble doodle. Glad to see you back, sharing your work with us.

master mistery said...

Hey Nici, love your work. Your art rocks! Glad to find a fellow doodlemaniac. Umm, I've started a site called doodlemaniawhich I would love for you to go and have a look and tell me what you think.

Also, I've added ArtShapedWorld to the master blogroll for all my blogs. It would be great if you were OK to carry a doodlemania link on ArtShapedWorld. Or if not, that's cool too. I'll still keep coming to your site --- it's too good to miss. Also, If you feel up to it, drop me a line at

Patricia J. Mosca said...

THESE ARE FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Would make a great stained glass piece...Doodle away!! I do it when I am on the phone especially and have used many of the doodles in art work too!!

Walk in the Woods said...

I LOVE to doodle. It was medicine for me in the past and, I suspect, always has been and always will be! Ashe.

mirapeix said...

your article and artwork work so well together. it makes me want to draw RIGHT now! =)
xtina from sharpie scouts