Doodle times

I love to doodle when I write. I like how the words and the visuals interact, and it thrills me when I subconsciously end up creating something that reflects what I’m writing about. I’m not entirely sure how to make it happen. Maybe it’s a kind of meditation… It works best when I don’t try to force anything in particular. Sometimes I draw towards a feeling, if that makes sense?

February 20, 2020. Box Office.
Journal entry from February 20, 2020. I knew what I wanted to draw. It came out differently than I’d first imagined, but I like where it ended up! I’d gotten a job offer that day, after a long run of rejections (being unemployed is so hard on the ego).

I try not to worry too much about the “quality” of what I end up creating. Some of my artistic heroes have a style I admire that looks childish (Lynda Barry, Shel Silverstein, Jim Henson, Roger Hargreaves, amongst others). But to me it looks like the style of people who still remember how to see magic in the world. So I try not to worry when I stray from symmetry and balance too far, and trust that it’ll turn out okay.

Detail from a jounal entry. “Stupid demons won’t leave me alone”
My feelings of not accomplishing enough (despite all the evidence to the contrary) emerged as imagined anxiety (right) and time (left) demons. I’ve never drawn a time demon before!
Detail from a journal entry featuring geometric and simple repeating shapes
Geometric and simple repeating shapes, playing with color, and breaking text into blocks. No correcting of anything…just keeping my pen and brushes moving.

I love drawing patterns. Patterns please the part of me that can’t stop looking for them. And colors can be so thrilling…like static shock, like a really perfect piece of chocolate. When the artistic stars align, I can imagine creatures squeezed into the shapes and empty spaces. Illuminating my own manuscripts…I suppose I’m my own scribe, letting my imagination inhabit the margins.

Journal page detail featuring creatures and geometric shapes
Adding creatures and small scenes to the corner of a journal entry that started with geometric shapes and repeating patterns. The rats and fruit emerged first, then the rhino and spiders. Finally, the beehive and vine.

I learned to doodle from my mom. She doodled on everything when she was on the phone: napkins, envelopes, pages of the phone book, and rarely, a notebook or pad of paper. Hers were mostly geometric, always in just the color of the pen or pencil she had handy. The repeating simplicity was mesmerizing. They feel like treasures, when I come across one. I think I draw similar patterns when she’s on my mind.

I think the creatures come from the same the same kind of space, mentally speaking, as her doodles did. Unconscious, unexpected, squeezed into the shapes of the paper and corners already on the page. It feels like life. Growth. The potential to move and change after you look away.

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