Here’s a little confession – I don’t really know how to doodle. Perhaps that sounds a bit silly. After all, isn’t doodling a very rough, very raw drawing that is aimlessly scribbled? Something you do carelessly in the empty margins of a page, your hand wandering here and there of its own free will?
It doesn’t sound like it would be difficult, but the truth is, I am horrible at it. Where doodles are carefree and unworried, I am rigid like hardwood floors, polished smooth. I lack the flexibility to doodle because I seek out perfection before beginning.
When I start an illustration, my mind drafts the concept, diagramming imaginary lines to create the bones of what will become a full drawing. Once it is all figured out, and only then, do I put pencil to paper. Carefully calculated, meticulously thought out.
The enemy of the daydream-y doodle.
My eyes have shot stars whenever I gazed upon pages of doodles done by someone with a more free-flowing spirit than I. Quick pen strokes capturing precision that have not been over-thought. Blotches of color that look seemingly planned but are splashed on in mere seconds.
What is the secret that I have yet to discover?
The theme for my February is “Little by Little,” a challenge to create little things in small amounts of time. Tiny things that will lead to big steps, such as sketching out ideas for art prints that might make it to my future online shop. Writing little snippets and musings that will allow me to connect with you, my dear Reader, and inspire you.
As much as I love painting full, completed works of art, I can see the benefit in doodles. When I only have 5 minutes a day to draw or write, I can’t let that stop me from wanting to be creative. I need to use that time to my advantage. It might not seem like much, but doodling for 5 minutes a day can get me farther than doing a complete illustration twice a year.
So for this month, to get myself to doodle more – and become confident in doing so – I will be doodling something memorable or happy-making every single day. Straight to pen, no pencil. Every imperfect stroke or messed-up line will remain. There is no time to carefully pencil out the skeleton of a doodle, so I’ll jump right into the frightening permanence of ink.
Last month, I had taken on bullet journaling as my challenge, and I lovingly created a monthly spread that was quickly forgotten. Not wanting it to be something so easily tossed aside, I decided to turn it into a daily doodle in each box of the day. Seeing as how it helped me let loose a bit, I am continuing this in February, in hopes of becoming a better doodler and unlocking the secrets of doodling.
Thoughts & Observations
What I have observed in these daily doodles is that, well, I really can do it! It’s raw and imperfect, but it is so carefree and delightful. It takes me a minute to do each doodle, and when I’m done, I actually feel like I want to continue drawing. Which makes me think that if ever I’m having difficulty starting a bigger illustration or painting, perhaps I need a quick doodle to give me a little push and get me on the right track.
One of the biggest challenges of mine is to leave Perfection behind. She can’t be present when I am doodling, and when I first started this mini project, there was a small hesitation before I started my doodle. I would try to think of the right layout, imagine the way the lines will fall before I put pen to page.
Slowly, I am getting better at that, delving right in with a “Who cares? I don’t have to show this to anyone!” mentality, and I look forward to filling up the calendar this way – with happy doodles rather than checklists of To-Do’s.
Another thing is that I am able to appreciate the little wonders of the everyday with this little exercise. As someone who works from home and has a very routinely schedule, it can be tough to come up with something happy or memorable every day (that is not always food and the same scenery), so it takes an extra effort to look at my day and truly appreciate something.
Whenever I look at my calendar now, I smile because I remember each of these moments during the day. Even if it’s as simple and mundane as perfectly fried eggs.