Sunday, August 9, 2009


Not working for anyone else means I am considerably less bored, and consequently spend less time doodling.

But sometimes during the English lessons I give, or when I am waiting for students I have moments of enforced idleness which I can spend doodling.

Mentally, doodling involves reproducing something from inside my head - I never draw things I see in front of me. Doodles are made on a tiny scale and are highly concentrated like postage stamps or an engravings and are very intimate creations, not intended to be seen by others.

In doodling, I have become very conscious of the sort of marks each type of pen can make and their direction. My favourite pens are Bics, especially those with larger size ball-points (I tried using a fountain pen, but it was too heavy- you can't use a fountain pen faintly, which means you end up having to "dive right in" into the drawing knowing for sure what result you want. This brings a feeling of risk which is inimical to doodling). A ball pen can be used to make a variety of weights of marks so you can gradually work towards your final image. You don't want to have to know what you want the end result to be when you first start doodling.

This quality is essential, because doodling is formostly a process led art form. The end results are relatively unimportant.

The best doodles have an unforced quality. This cannot be contrived. The scribble has to flow freely, un-self consciously- it's a bit like talking to oneself or chatting to a close friend late at night, and you have to feel at ease with yourself to doodle comfortably.

I often draw letters, usually serifed- it's very pleasurable to trace the curve on an "S". Other common subjects for me are faces (usually of women or children), horses, vaginas, cats, flowers, ellipses, eggs and hands. I like cross-hatching, and I like serpentine lines. I rarely use staccato marks.

I daresay there are deep psychological explanations for this choice of subjects (Freud wrote some very silly essays laboriously "explaining" the thoughts behind da Vinci's famous doodles), but some things are simply more suitable subjects of such tiny drawings than others- with such a tiny amount of space the subject cannot require too much elaboration to be recognisable. This is one of the appeals of letters, in particular.


Knowing that one might later show the doodle online has a negative effect on me, making me feel inhibited. I know the drawings will be judged, first by myself as I photograph and edit them, and then by those who look at my work on Flickr.

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