The Approachable Art of Doodles

A doodle as displayed on Zen Tangles website

A doodle as displayed on Zen Tangles website

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines doodling as “to draw something without thinking about what you are doing,” and “an aimless or casual scribble, design, or sketch; also a minor work.” We might therefore associate the doodle with the open notebook in school when students fail to pay attention to the lecture and instead have created some artistic scribbles upon the page there. But what if you doodled with thinking about what you were doing, and what if that aimless or casual scribble became something a little bit more than a minor work?

Of course the initial appeal of doodling is that it’s harmless, and that you can’t doodle incorrectly. Any line pressed to the page, no matter how uneven, no matter how quickly, may become anything. You can never be too repetitious with a doodle. There is no model and no right and wrong. So this is an encouraging and approachable choice for a sketch. An artist might even find that a doodle on the side lines of some piece of paper becomes the pattern for tomorrow’s more formal study.

Another doodle from a Zen Tangles artist

Another doodle from a Zen Tangles artist

It’s clear that doodles can convey the same basic principles of art when they are finished. Looking at two doodles side by side there may be a particular mood evoked by one that the other doesn’t have. Composition may form organically based on the size of paper, margin or other factors involved in the free form flow of the pen or pencil, but in the end, there will more than likely be some compositional form if only that dictated by the space provided. A study of contrast is sure to show up in an eventual doodle, particularly one rendered in pen and ink. And a particular style may begin to appear in many doodles by the same artist; if anything they may end up as the perfect swatch for personality. If you find a paint swatch for your walls and drag it home before you choose to paint a room, perhaps then a doodle is no different in its own way. It’s a small, sample piece of personality that identifies the artist’s over all character.

Around the web, doodling is taken more seriously than at first suspected. There are Yahoo! and Ning creative circles who engage in doodling groups. But there are also professional sites that advocate doodling such as Zen Tangles. Visitors can purchase a kit of cardstock paper in a particular, square size with rounded corners, and then make their own doodles. Many doodles are on display at the Zen Tangles website showcasing the great array of creativity.

A doodle from a Zen Tangles artist

A doodle from a Zen Tangles artist

Having the time for art is probably one of the largest concerns of a busy, modern world. Yet doodling seems to fall into the cracks of modern life very well. The small amount of time it may take to fill in two or three inches, whether on your own pages or if you send out for a kit, certainly makes the idea of doodling a charming possibility. What ideas flow on to the page while standing in line at the bank or metro station? What about doodling on the couch during a favorite television program? While the practice of doodling may seem trivial and unimportant, doodling actually represents the power of Art for Art’s Sake.