Monday, April 13, 2009

Doodling - Art & Therapy

I am a lifelong doodler. Sometimes I compare it to what spirit writing must be like. When I doodle it is just an unconscious flow of information from the mind to the hand. I don't usually think about what I am doing it just happens.

I have been surprised to see a few very high profile articles and news stories lately on the practice of doodling and its many newly discovered beneficial effects. I've been a long time doodler and for me it has always been a subconscious habit that many times I am not even aware of until I look down at my paper and see that it is covered with unintelligible repetitive patterns and words. I doodle on anything that is within reach which can be a very big problem. I've doodled over important information like client's phone numbers or vital measurements for a job. I doodled on checks, tax documents, even a certificate of completion for a course I took once. I've spent a lot of time trying to decipher the important information underneath the doodles that are covering it.

Most of my doodling occurs when I am on the phone. I seem to have a deep rooted need to always be doing something with my hands and this subconscious need rears its ugly head when I'm listening to phone conversations. I don't just draw shapes and patterns I also write words over and over. Profound words like yeah and okay. I don't know why, it's just something I am compelled to do. The doodles above are the cleanest examples I could find. Most of my doodled pages are a big mess and show no creativity whatsoever. But since this is a post about artistic doodling I have cheated and included some reasonably legible doodles.

an example of the work of a serious doodler via Flikr

Susan Smalley of The Huffington Post published this article entitled:

Doodling and the Wandering Mind

"Doodling is the expression of a wandering mind and new research is suggesting that a wandering mind may be a good thing for humanity. A wandering mind appears to be a time when our brains are not 'doing' but rather 'being' and in that state (called a default brain state) we seem to increase in self-awareness (Raichle et al., 2001; Lou et al., 2004). By that I mean we gain a greater intuitive understanding of 'who we are' in relation to our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and actions, to others, and the universe at large. This increase in intuitive self-awareness may be a key to authentic happiness (Cloninger, Feeling Good, 2004)."

Read the full article here

This article by the BBC sites statistical data and scientific studies that are showing significant benefits of doodling.

Doodling May Help Memory Recall

"Doodling may look messy, but it could .in fact be a sign of an alert mind, a study suggests."

"Plymouth University researchers carried out memory tests on 40 volunteers, asking them to listen to a phone call and recall names and places. Doodlers performed 29% better than non-doodlers, the team found."

Read the full article here


I recently stumbled across a company that has systematized the doodling process for "non-artistic", "art phobic" and novice doodlers as well as the artfully inclined. They give instruction on their form of doodling called Zentangles. You can buy a beautifully put together kit which includes squares of special paper that they say are the perfect size and quality for creating your original doodle artwork. A pencil, and a Micron Pigment pen ( My personal fav and what I do all of my illustrations with) and an instruction booklet and CD. The whole thing is enclosed in a classy looking box. The kit is pricey at $50 but I think it would make a great gift. (hint - hint)


The Zentangles crew give seminars about their process and are encouraging children to tap into their creativity. As you know, I am a huge fan of anyone who can instill a love of art in children - a sorely neglected aspect of our kids lives!

Here are a group of kids from a Montessori school checking out their artistic handy work.

Apparently there is currently a popular artistic movement that encourages doodling and some of the resulting work is quite amazing. Just search doodles on Flikr! You'll be amazed at the art people have posted.

One self proclaimed doodler I found on Flikr is Margaret Storer-Roche'. Her work is amazing and she obviously has a lot of natural talent. Her doodles range from totally abstract to providing little commentaries on moments in her life.

She has turned these doodles into cards on her website / blog Water Blossoms

She seems to like hearts and has a whole series of these heart shaped images.

She uses colored pens, black pens, pencil, and watercolor.

I love this image and the vibrant color. She often incorporates little statements or quotes into her drawings. I think I see a Mary Emerling influence here.

Here are a couple of examples using a variation in pen colors.

I love the message here :: Simplify ::

Check out her blog for more inspiration !


niartist said...

these are so beautiful! I'd have them framed and put on walls. I'm a sucker for pen and ink art.

Lauren said...

They really are beautiful. I wish my doodles were pretty... they're totally not :)

Really interesting info & thanks for sharing!!

Sanity Fair said...

An interesting thought. I remember coming across a book called Presidential Doodles - very thought provoking (and sometimes scary) to see where presidential minds wandered :)

Tricia - Avolli said...

Some of the most intimidating doodles I've ever seen...just beautiful and nothing even close has ever come from my jealous.

Tricia - Avolli

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doodling! :-) I have to keep scrap paper around me at all times to keep from getting ink all over important papers...
But in all seriousness- I love that you took the time to point out that doodling is healthy - the pictures are gorgeous, and even more: I love the fact that more people are recognizing the importance of uninhibited and unstructured creative expression!!!!