Doodles: Gateway to Art Journaling

11 Feb 2013

Doodling comes naturally to most people. Especially if you're in a boring class or meeting. Most especially if you're a teenager in love.

Dawn DeVries Sokol doodle for art journaling
Doodle by Dawn DeVries Sokol from Art Journaling Exposed.
So, how has doodling gone from perceived slacker activity to art form? I think it's tied to art journaling. Doodling is fits right in with visual journaling. On the one hand, it's stream-of-consciousness drawing. On the other, you can give doodling a structure with Zen approach, like ZentangleTM. Zen doodling is like drawing in a labyrinth: meditating on a form.

Doodling can be an end unto itself or a means to creating patterns and motifs you can use in other art forms, from your travel journal to stamp carving.

Here is what some Cloth Paper Scissors Facebook followers said about why and how they doodle.

Dale Battison Abeling: [I doodle] words. I pick a word and see how many words I can make from it, using my favourite pens. Usually while I wait for the computer to do something.

Barb Stearns Ridenour: I'm a quilter first and foremost, and a lot of my doodling is playing with machine quilting motifs. Especially feathers.

Julianne Ryan: I doodle when taking notes as I find it helps me concentrate more--and my notebooks look so much prettier with the doodles in them.

Glenna Bagley: During meetings at work, I come up with the greatest ideas! Good thing my boss appreciates my creativity.

In the Art Journaling Exposed eMag, artist and mega-doodler Dawn Devries Sokol says, "I love to doodle words, hearts, flowers, and peace symbols. I try to infuse positive energy into my doodles, and positive symbols are key. I doodle whenever I can, whenever the urge hits."

If you're not a regular doodler or want to add to your repertoire, here are some doodling prompts to try:

  • Print a word, spacing the letters a little farther apart than normal. Add lines, curlicues, dots, etc. to each letter to give it personality and dimension.
  • Draw a square and divide it evenly with horizontal and vertical lines, like a grid. Now, fill in every other square on each line, and every offset square in the line above and below it, checkerboard style, with doodles. Make the doodles the same or different.
  • Choose a motif, like a square, a wagon wheel, a triangle, etc. Repeat that motif bigger, smaller, and the same size on your page, connecting the doodles.
  • Write a word or draw a shape, then repeat that word or shape, each time using a different mark-making tool or medium (pens, crayons, colored pencils, paintbrushes, etc.).
  • Cut out a page from a magazine and doodle over and around the images and words. Try using a white gel pen.

Once you get started, it will be hard to stop. For a fascinating lesson in the art of doodling, watch Dawn Sokol and Traci Bautista face off on a Doodle Duel in Art Journaling Exposed. You can watch them doodle side-by-side and compare their styles while getting doodling and art journaling inspiration for yourself.

P.S. How do you doodle? Leave your comments below.

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abramlett wrote
on 11 Feb 2013 10:05 AM

I turned my doodling into a skin (sticker) for my iPad :)

jkriehn wrote
on 11 Feb 2013 12:42 PM

I am one of those who is NOT a huge doodler. I've been hard-of-hearing all my life, and as a result, tend to focus hard on what is being said. When I realized this a few years ago, I began making a concerted effort to doodle, but it definitely requires effort on my part. I'm a lot more likely to start drawing thumbnail sketches of ideas for a publication I'm working on for my job, a future quilt project, or something like that, than to do the intricately inter-connected lines and shapes that I associate with true doodling.

enaidskorb wrote
on 11 Feb 2013 6:22 PM

I doodle whilst watching tv, i have to be doing more than one thing - i also like to doodle into shapes i draw e.g. camels and elephants are favourites too and i use them in collages too!

on 11 Feb 2013 7:57 PM

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I did what I call "Valentangles" after learning a bit about Zentangles in our art quilt group.  

Photopoet wrote
on 16 Feb 2013 9:15 AM

Will this version work on an IPad?

ctutt wrote
on 16 Feb 2013 3:41 PM

Been a doodler since grade school. In high school I had an English teacher who was, I think, a frustrated art instructor…HE would doodle on my reports too -  and hand them back to me embellished with all sorts of weird stuff. Before graduation I made a point of asking him to be sure and draw in my yearbook!  ;-D

runwita wrote
on 23 Feb 2013 11:57 AM

I like to play on paper to create doodles that aren't as "structured" as Zentangle.  I transferred my most recent piece to white fabric washed with Derwent Intense Blocks, machine quilted it, then colored the doodle with Derwent Inktense Pencils, used a water brush to create a "water colored" doodle.  Next step, build a crazy quilt book cover with the doodle on the front for my sketchbook journal I use to plan projects.