"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids


Are you a doodler? Do you like to express yourself by decorating the margins of your notebook or the covers of your folders? Have you ever found yourself making random designs on a message pad or piece of paper while talking on the phone or listening to a lecture? If you run out of space, do you trace over the same design again and again?

A doodle is a simple drawing, sketch, or scribble that has been created spontaneously or impulsively, often while daydreaming or mentally preoccupied with another activity. Doodles can be the result of simple boredom. Doodling may also provide an outlet for frustrated artistic expression. Doodling usually refers to an absent-minded scribbling, not a conscious work of art that happens to be on a scrap of paper.

Doodles are made up of lines, dots, and squiggles – similar to scrawling handwriting – but doodles are more like pictures than words. Doodles may be abstract or symmetrical, consisting of various geometric patterns, basic shapes, signs, symbols, spirograph designs, maze-like outlines, etc.

Doodles vary enormously from person to person. Most doodles are simple line drawings done with an ordinary pen or pencil. Inexperienced doodlers tend to limit their doodles to repetitive geometric forms and symbols such as flowers, suns, moons, hearts, and crosses. Talented doodlers may employ a variety of colors, more complex shapes and sophisticated textures.

Repetitive doodling is a way to become “centered” as when walking a labyrinth, a form of meditation. “Free” doodling promotes creativity while relieving anxiety, stress and tension. Since a doodle is a pictorial expression of the hidden feelings of the subconscious mind, it is often possible to discern a person’s underlying personality and emotional state by studying their doodles. However, whether a particular doodle can be said to have any specific symbolic meaning is debatable.

Doodling as a Career

Do you spend countless hours doodling on your notebooks when you should be listening in class? If you like doodling, you probably also like calligraphy, fancy lettering, and decorative arts. Many doodlers are artists. If you take doodling seriously, you may want to consider utilizing your doodling skills as a calligrapher, graphic designer, animator, cartoonist, book illustrator, architect, or in a similar career.

Famous Doodlers

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the quintessential Renaissance Man: artist, mathematician, scientist, engineer – and doodler. Many of Leonardo's inventions are said to have come from his doodling and scribbling. Interesting doodles of polyhedra can be found scattered throughout Leonardo's drawings.

Matt Groening, born on February 15, 1954, began his doodling career at an early age - in fact, it was the first day of school. Matt admits that his doodling during class hours often resulted in a visit to the principal's office. Despite the disapproval of his teachers, Groening refused to give up his labor of love and he went on to create The Simpsons.

Doodling Exercise

Doodling can help you to think more creatively, unlock a mental block, and brainstorm ideas. Give yourself a time limit of ten minutes and keep your pencil, pen, or even a crayon moving freely for that length of time. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but when you relax your brain and doodle there is always the possibility of a creative breakthrough.

Doodle Journals

Some people like drawing better than writing. If you are more of an artist than a journalist, why not keep a Doodle Diary! You can doodle whatever comes to mind, or here are a few questions to help “draw out” your feelings: How do I feel right now? What am I grateful for? What does my heart yearn for? How are things going with my friends and family? With school or work? What causes me pain? What brings me joy? What fears, frustrations, or worries do I have? What’s contributing to my success or limiting it? Feel free to incorporate stick figures and faces, symbols and signs, letters and words, and even different colors to depict whatever is happening in your life. Even if you are accustomed to writing, you might want to try doodling to rediscover your creativity and express your artistic side.

Doodle Art

A simple doodle can sometimes be the source of inspiration for more serious artworks. The ultimate artistic example of a doodle is an illuminated manuscript. These were the doodle-pads of medieval monks working in secluded monasteries, the remote refuges of learning and art. The center of the monks’ life was meditation, which they were able to do as they enhanced and glorified God’s words. Many of their designs were repetitive and can be broken into divisions of three, so they could have been repeating “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” while drawing the same strokes over and over. The scribes who created the Book of Kells must have been excellent doodlers. The exquisite calligraphy, decorative letters, ornamental designs, intricate knotwork, and weaving together of design elements is a veritable doodle explosion of incredible detail.

Did You Know…? February 25, 2005 is National Doodle Day in the UK! (See www.nationaldoodleday.org.uk)


Artists' Journals and Sketchbooks: Exploring and Creating Personal Pages, by Lynne Perrella. (Creative souls want and need a special place for recording and decoding their interior world, a place to download all their creative ideas, a place to remember the events of the day, or a place to doodle, to draw, and to dream.)

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson. (Harold, in his one-piece jammies and purple crayon in hand, doodles his way through the night, drawing whatever fanciful dreamscapes his curious young mind can conjure. Read the story with your kids, then give them some crayons and a huge sheet of paper and let them loose to design and explore their own magical worlds.)

Do You Doodle? by Nikalas Catlow.

Doodles: A Really Giant Coloring and Doodling Book, by Taro Gomi.

Squiggles: A Really Giant Drawing and Painting Book, by Taro Gomi.

Scribbles: A Really Giant Drawing and Coloring Book, by Taro Gomi.

Doodle All Year, by Taro Gomi.

Doodles to Go, by Deborah Zemke.

D is for Doodle, by Deborah Zemke.

Beautiful Doodles: Over 100 Pictures to Complete and Create, by Nellie Ryan.

Between the Lines: A Coloring Book of Drawings by Contemporary Artists, by Sol Lewitt.

The Anti-Coloring Book:, by Susan Striker.

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book: Make a World, by Ed Emberley.


www.suite101.com/article.cfm/natural_health/26290 (Doodling as art nouveau.)

http://enchantedmind.com/html/creativity/techniques/art_of_doodling.html (Doodling as a creative process.)

www.teachingkidsbusiness.com/resource_center_doodle.htm (Doodling hints, ideas, and activities for creativity, relaxation, and business skills!)

www.annakoren.com/doodles.html (A graphologist explains the art and science of doodling, with sample doodles and their meanings.)

www.jpb.com/doodles/exercises.php (Printable doodle exercises can be used as a fun party game.)

www.droodles.com (Doodle riddles, abstract drawings of few lines that beg the question: "What is it?")

www.etch-a-sketch.com/html/onlineetch.htm (Online Etch-a-Sketch.)

www.redrom.com/doodle (Online Drag 'n Doodle, looks like a Fisher-Price Magna-Doodle.)

www.youthhavenkids.com/magna.htm (Youth Haven's Online Magna-Doodle.)

www.pentel.com/doodle.html (Pentel online Doodle Pad.)

www.zefrank.com/scribbler (The Scribbler program takes your doodle and generates a line drawing out of it.)

www.edu.pe.ca/threeoaks/Art/letter.htm (An art lesson in illuminated lettering.)


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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