The Art of the Doodle

“My Pandemic Story” by Kristine Schomaker

The Art of the Doodle

Written by Kristine Schomaker

To doodle is to scribble or create a rough drawing absentmindedly. It’s also a free online meeting scheduling tool. How many of you doodle while on the phone? My mom, who swears she doesn’t have an artistic bone in her body used to create beautiful doodles when talking for long periods of time.

Early in the pandemic, I spent a lot of time in bed binge-watching British Murder Mysteries. If anyone knows Midsomer Murders, Vera, Shetland, Morse, Inspector Lewis, Poirot, Miss Marple… you know. I was distracting myself from the chaos outside my door. That is where a lot of doodling happened for me. I used whatever pen was available and whatever paper I had and just let go. This mark-making gave me a release. It was my own secret language, discovered while allowing myself to become absent of my anxious mind.

Time travel to December 2021. I was on a residency looking at my ‘doodles’ questioning their legitimacy and my own legitimacy in the art world. My friends laughed at me. (Actually they were very supportive.) I ended up cutting up all of my doodles (something I do) and creating a ‘living collage’ on the wall. That is another story, but it made me dive deeper into the art of doodling.

What I am sharing below is art and commentary from a selection of artists on the importance of the doodle.

Jora Nelstein
I still give doodle “classes” every other Sunday via zoom. When COVID started, I looked for a creative outlet where all levels and all ages could participate, with few materials.

Monica Rickler Marks
For me, doodling is a fidget activity; it engages my brain just enough without requiring a need to focus too much on it, so that I can more easily focus on a lecture, a recording, or, zoom meetings. I generally use micron pens, or one color marker per session, to eliminate the need to make color choices; using wood clothespins helps to “contain” my anxiety into tiny, manageable bits, and my sensory-seeking needs are met by the feeling of marker on wood. Each collection of pattern, or color, involves a theme of repetition, which also becomes a mindful and calming activity. As each clothespin represents a stray or random thought that has been concretized in pen and wood, this piece brings together many of those at one time, illustrating would happen if they weren’t contained, bursting through my brain.

Jody Zellen
I doodle when I am on the phone. I doodle when I am in meetings. I doodle when ZOOM is on my screen. For me doodling is freeform and stream of consciousness. I don’t think. I just let the pen move across the page. My paper doodles have also become animations. Digital doodles in a way. At first my doodles were throw aways but now is a primary aspect of my practice.

Nancy Goodman Lawrence
I have been turning my Doodles into paintings. This method of working frees up the imagination.

Cul Cagin @gul__cagin_
It is a process that sometimes trigger my thinking and other times gets me start to work on any of my work! It is a discovery in way that let me find my way!

Jill D’Agnenica
I spend a lot of time with notebooks in front of me. Composition. Graph Ruled. Always. I fill them with indecipherable (sometimes even to me) notes from my work as an editor and other meetings and DOODLES on almost every page. I doodle when I am bored with the material, when I’m listening to producers, when I get a phone call. I have dozens of these gridded notebooks, filled with pigeon-scratch writing interspersed with doodles. Nervous energy combined with a constant need to make stuff.

Angela Aiosa
I work in a sketchbook a lot so frequently the first layer of work is doodles, writing or scribbling. Then I layer paint and images over that. I like to doodle because it’s freeing to get my thoughts and images onto paper and out of my mind. Plus it gives my hands something to do.

Ahmet Arslan @axarslan
I draw to explore the potential and complexity of the line in its most basic use.
I find myself doodling anytime that I have a pen and a piece of paper.
Drawing itself is my practice.

Austin Lubetkin @bocaaust
I doodle a lot when I’m imagining and planning out my artwork. I also frequently use doodles I make to create paintings I use in my work using a type of AI that can paint in a style I’ve trained it to. In addition by training it in my own artistic style I can quickly create artwork from my drawings that captures the way I see the world differently with synesthesia.

Lauren Kasmer
Doodling has always been a natural ongoing impulse using an intuitive flow integral to my being. There is no pre-thought involved (unlike my varied artwork practices- where technologies and collaborators require a plan of sorts but always with room for the spontaneous). I equate it to stream of consciousness in writing which was an especially satisfying action during pandemic quarantine.

Rex Wilder
Doodle is my duty! Each Kaleidoscura Tile begins with a humble piece of the world that appeals for my recognition. A snowy mountain in the haze, an abandoned ice cream cone, a post-it note on a dishwasher. Alone or in pairs or as a whole, the tiles are becoming textile proof that the silos where we have isolated, hidden and huddled for centuries, are anathema to love. Each quilts a dimension of grace that condemns the perspective of supremacy across races, religions, species, colors, weathers and genders.

Erin Williams @erin_the_creator
I doodle because I like to keep my motor skills in operation, and I like to let my mind wander. I doodle 1-2 times a week; my MFA program is focused on illustration, so I doodle pretty regularly when creating sketches. It means that my practice is fun and light, and open to interpretation.

Julie Williams
For me, doodling it is a conscious effort to let go of conscious effort! I have a daily journaling and drawing practice that has helps me connect with the joy of drawing and let go of expectations. Just dive in and see what shows up.

Glenn Waggner
Sketching goes with all the art I create. It’s a way of having fun with no pressure to make something good or bad. Most of the time I have no idea how the sketch will turn out, and this leads to ideas for making art.

April Bermudez
Sometimes I doodle to clear my head, sometimes to get new ideas. Mostly, it’s just a virtual dump of my brain’s refuse, but I sift through that garbage to perhaps find diamonds.

Damon Schindler
I’ve always doodled off the top of my head even before my serious art practice, I doodle throughout the day . practice means developing a visual alphabet or language that is personal, unique and hopefully legible and connects with others, I like to think of my work as” kindergarten cave paintings”.

Angela Michaelina
I often doodle because I have an idea in mind, but I want to get a rough feel of what it would look like outside of my head. If not that, it’s done as a form of stress relief. As to when I doodle, I have no set time or incidence–it’s often spontaneous. Doodling allows for my creativity to keep flowing.

Rebecca Major
This piece is from my ongoing “Amorphous” project, a series of drawings that evoke imagined biomorphic and bodily forms, informed through the possibilities of abstraction. Using free-associative techniques, I feel that my process is closely akin to ‘doodling’ as such, which likewise has an intuitive approach to mark-making. I’m interested in how this technique can access the psyche, and in effect give it visual representation.


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