Running Before Crawling

This may seem a little odd for a fine artist to admit, but the truth is I don’t know how to doodle. I can paint delicate paintings and create elaborate drawings, but the talent of a simple doodle eludes me! The problem stems mostly from my lack of free time and my tendency to jump from project to project without much down time. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, I believe doodling is a fundamental skill for any artist to have. It helps cultivate creativity and acts as an avenue of practice. It has only been recently that I’ve come to realize my short comings, though I expect I’ve had this problem for a long while now.

My day job has it’s fair share of boring meetings, so I usually try to combat the day dream bunnies by doodling. It was at my most recent meeting that I realized I spend more time trying to think of what to draw than actually drawing.  It’s as if the spring of ideas in my brain dried up. Even sitting at home, wanting to idly draw has repeatedly proved to be more difficult than oil painting a portrait. In the end, I resort to doodling the same five things, over, and over.

How can doodles be bad?

I know doodles aren’t meant to be anything special. Just some lines on paper without much effort put behind them. However, I’ve seen some amazing drawings that were just doodles. I’ve seen people doodle as if their pens were made of magic. And then there are my attempts at doodling. My doodles look very flat, scratchy, and lack imagination. I can never seem to make one coherent picture, so I end up with a page of random squiggles, black holes of ink, and tons of daisies. Worst of all is how unconfident all my pen strokes are. If you had to guess my skill level from my doodles, it would not appear to be very high.

How I ended up this way.

As I said before, I think this inability stems from a lack of practice. I usually only find time to doodle during meetings or other chunks of time in which I can’t work on a real piece of artwork, but have access to a pen and paper. When I’m not at my day job, I am in the studio trying to make the most of my precious time working on proper pieces. If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll have noticed time is something I’m forever fretting over. Not having enough time for everything is a constant stress of mine so I’m constantly pushing myself to “get it right the first time” and do as much as I can – all the time. This drive has been beneficial for building a decent sized portfolio, however, it seems to have come at a cost of my lucid creativity.

The pressure to make everything good the first time ends up making doodling extremely non-relaxing. I stress that I’m wasting time on bad drawings when I could be working on a new portfolio piece. Frustration over not being able to draw well in that moment combined with the stress of wasting time only ever invites artist block for me, thus further compounding my stress all the more.

A big part of how I draw is being able to strongly visual in my mind’s eye the thing I want to draw. Stress and frustration effectively fog up my head preventing good visualization of any ideas that do make it past that wall of overthinking.

Practice makes perfect!

Being creative is essential to being an artist, so the thought of my creativity and imagination diminishing is mega-scary! To help me over come these issues, I’ve decided to set aside small chucks of time in which to practice doodling. Right now I am aiming for 15 minutes a day of simple doodling. I chose 15 minutes since it’s pretty inconsequential for the day over all, but sill adequate for a small sketch. My goal right now isn’t so much to be a fantastic 15 minute sketch artist, but rather to improve the swiftness of my imagination and let go of the need to draw perfectly and precisely all the time. These attributes, as well meaning as they are, only seem hinder me in the long run. 

Currently, I am keeping these 15 minute sketches in a small sketch book. I feel self-conscience of the drawings right now, but I am hoping to share them one day. Fingers crossed I see improvements by the time I near the final page! 

Until next time!

Armature doodler,

Sam :] Actual meeting notes – featuring my doggo Matilda!