A fun way to practice
is to just doodle!
I prescribe it wholeheartedly and it isn’t just goofing off!
I’ve kept many sketchbooks over the years and often half or more of the pages are filled with random bits of mind wonderings.
It’s a great meditative practice to blank your brain, don’t TRY to do anything really, just start making forms. You can keep it abstract or if you start seeing something chase that rabbit. It’s kind of the opposite of Deliberate Practice, but doodling is still important practice, it’s the flexing of your imagination and a dynamic drawing design problem solving exercises.
And can lead to some great invention and discovery. Sometimes I fall out of the habit, especially if I’m doing a lot of drawing for work. But i really notice the gradual deadening of my creative instincts if I stay away from it too long.
It’s never good to get too serious, too perfectionist, and completely stop doodling and sketching as a habit, if you want to be serious about your art.
In fact the practice of basically doodling, is a genre of fine art too, it’s called Automatic Drawing, or Surrealist automatism in those circles and it’s resulted in some pretty interesting work, and can be a pretty rewarding path to explore as an exercise in developing your skills, both technical and cerebral.
All the images on this page are the end result of my doodling at some time over the years, mostly done fairly quickly and spontaneously.
Doodling will give you great opportunities to get more familiar with a particular tool, or ideas, and broaden your visual vocabulary. Very much connected to what I was talking about in “Informing your eye“.
By doing stream of consciousness drawings, either abstract or real of things that just pop into your mind, or cartoons of your surroundings, you’re going to be flexing the muscles you’ll need to do design and conceptual work.
But even if you only draw for fun, all the more why imaginative doodling is a good idea! It’s simply fun!
At times doodling should be done at leisure. But with busy lives, a way to kill a few min and test yourself to try new things, is to do lots of speed doodling whenever you find yourself with some moments to kill. And like our dynamic moving model studies it’ll pay off big time for your other work. Very win win.
So, at least once a week engage in some hard-core Doodling! This should be a fun even if it is an exercise, as that will be the best way to incentivize making it a habit. Give yourself little or no direction or intention when you start out, other than keeping the pace high. If you need a jumping off point, try a fortune cookie, or some other kind of random way to generate inspiration.
Start with just some loose abstract forms, circles or a scribble if you need a suggestion, and go from there!
The clip here to the right is sped up 800 times, i don’t of course mean you should try to go that fast. But in real-time it’s only about 6 minutes of drawing here. To put aside questions of doing things wrong. Mistakes are meant to happen, when they do turn them into something.
Maybe just a pattern, but maybe that becomes Godzilla ‘s scales? You don’t stop for anything. Outcome is relevant. You’re going to like some of these, at that’s ok. But having them be great is not the point. It’s about the journey grasshopper, not the destination. 😉
Indeed one of the goals of this exercise is to learn how to be ok with mistakes, and even turn them into solutions! You both learn, and discover, far more with this approach to drawing over time than you will if you only ever do drawings that “mater”, for a reason of because you had a specific idea.
How to start? Paper. Pen, pencil, crayon, brush, whatever. Remember your grip.
Keep it very loose and maybe skate the page a bit. Then start to fill it with little ideas? Maybe make it into something? Or someplace? Or someone? Let it mutate. Moving as swiftly and fluidly as you can. Don’t ponder! No hmmm, just go! Follow impulse and silence the critique.
Some might be good when done, but making them good is less important than the how you are making them is.
Invention and swift thinking are what we’re after here. Experiment with drawing to music, feel free to exploit it to help set a pace and energy for your doodle sessions. Do not use visual reference other than what you can recall from memory or your immediate surroundings. Do feel free to close your eyes and try to remember something but only for a minute. Don’t ponder. Done’ correct, include, incorporate. Improvise.
This is a fun look at using a prompt strategy to help drive your automatic drawing process.
Here’s a playlist of many of his drawing sessions, most of them are improvisational doodles under limited constraints.