Sunday, January 27, 2013


Pencil and paper: two tools for endless possibilities.

In my last post I admired the doodles that were done at a Nanaimo Design Nerd’s event. I like to doodle but I am not a prolific doodler. Yet I keep a doodle book, and after a couple of years of doodling am working on my second one.

I bought my first doodle book after I read a suggestion in The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron .The Artist’s Way was one of a few second hand books I bought when I was in my self-help phase. I probably still am in a self-help phase but I just don’t currently buy any books on the subject. The suggestion was to go visit a toy store and buy whatever toy appealed to one’s playful nature. Seemed like a reasonable idea so one day I went to Toys R’ Us.  I could not find a single toy I liked, but I did find a doodle book by Karen Phillips and published by Klutz books that appealed to me.

 I took it home and felt stupid. I felt stupid because I bought a brand new book rather than a used one, used my lean cash supply on a doodle book of all things and for feeling too uptight to enjoy it properly. I did the doodle suggestions any ways but drew very, very stiff doodles. It was kind of fun but not very fun.

 I did that for a while and thought I may need a bit more freedom because I was still feeling stupid so I bought a blank book from a dollar store. At first I doodled like in the Doodle Journal by Karen Phillips, but I quickly transitioned into something looser and original.

 I doodled with felt markers and the ink would seep into the other side making the back page rather useless. That was until I looked closely at the splotches and started to see pictures in them. It got to the point where I rather looked forward to these splotches because that’s when my true creativity kicked in. It was easy to fall into the habit of drawing the same old thing but the splotches liberated personal visual constraints and opened my library of references.

Here are some recent examples. The drawing on the right is a quick doodle I did based on a photo of my son.

The picture on the left is inspired by the ink blotches that seeped through from the previous drawing. You may be able to see some of it.

 I have no idea what part of my imagination my dastardly man came from, but I rather like this cartoon figure reminiscent of theatrical melodramas: the villains who threatened to take the family farm, tie the maiden to railroad tracks or compromise a young lady’s virtue. The little girl on the opposite page was a doodle reaction to my sinister villain. As a heroine she probably should have better ringlets.

Writing about my experiences in this post has led to the creation of this weird but somehow appropriate maxim:

We untie our creativity from the tracks of inhibition when we thwart our melodramas and personal villains.

So was the suggestion by Julie Cameron a good one? At the time I didn’t think so but now in hindsight when I look at the transformation in my drawings then I have to say yes. I got in touch with my inner child who likes cartoons, villains, damsels in distress and doodling. Most importantly, it got me out of a creative rut which is why I bought the book in the first place.

Happy doodling.

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