“A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” –Paul Klee
Recently I treated myself to the Learning to See series of drawing primers. The first exercise I tried was the fourth one in the second book (yes, I pick and choose!), called, simply, “Doodle.” I challenged myself to fill an entire sketchbook page with pencil doodles, and this is what resulted.
My daughter saw what I was doing. Later on, she got her own paper and filled it with pencil doodles.
We decided to spend the next morning sitting on the floor with paper and a selection of colored pencils and markers, doodling. This is as simple as it gets: fill the page with doodles. You can make it more complicated, if you like. I chose a bigger piece of paper and challenged myself to fill it, and tried to pay attention to balancing the shapes, sizes, line, and white vs black.
I decided to keep it black and white, but I could have chosen to go into it with watercolors. I’m also interested in isolating parts of it that seem interesting to me. There are rhythms and patterns that might find their way into a future design. Doodling can bring forth all sorts of ideas to return to later.
My eight-year-old focused on colors for some of his doodles, preselecting markers to use.
In this next doodle, he focused on pattern, thinking of the zebras we saw at the zoo last weekend and the sign which informed him that zebras are camouflaged by their stripes; it’s hard to identify an individual zebra when they’re all together in a group.
He also completed a pencil doodle, which is in the Flickr group.
My four-year-old was a bit overjoyed with the choices of mark-making materials. She wanted to try them all!
The entire drawing session was a relaxing way to spend an hour–which is part of the goal of doing art together, to simply enjoy the time spent.
Books on doodling abound! I have Creative Doodling and Beyond, but truthfully it didn’t click for me on my first try with it. The exercises felt too focused on producing a complete finished work; I became completely inhibited. The Learning to See exercise, however, was wide open. Just get a pen and doodle. I didn’t feel any pressure, so it was easier. If the wide-open “doodle something on a blank page” approach leaves you wondering what to do, try a book that provides specific exercises. Maybe that will speak to you better. I’ve no doubt I’ll go back to the Creative Doodling book at some point.
If you want some visual inspiration, Flickr has many doodling groups. Oodles of Doodles is one that promises to be safe for all ages, so your kids can look, too.
Take it Further
Try doodling in black Sharpie and then choosing areas to wash over with watercolors or fill in with colored markers.
Choose a color palette (as my 8yo did) and limit yourself to it. That adds another design element to balance: not just shape, line, pattern, and size, but color, too.
Cut a 2-inch (or 3-inch, or 1-inch; experiment) square out of a piece of cardboard and use it as a frame to isolate different parts of your doodle. Are there any sections you’d like to try “blowing up” into a larger piece? Would any sections translate well to another medium, such as paint or stamp-carving?
Share Your Work
I’d love to see your work in the Flickr group; or if you have a link to posts describing art-making together, please share in the comments!