Why Bother to Doodle??

A doodle to settle down . .
Several years ago, a painter friend was telling me about studying with George Post. Yes, the famous California Regionalist painter. I asked, “what does he teach?” The answer was short, quick and unforgettable. She replied, “Paint Relationships.”
I nodded with that “of course” look on my face while I wondered “what in the hell does he mean by thaaaat?”
That question haunted me for years. It wasn’t until four or five years ago that I awoke one day with the answer. I had been reading books about design . . .(not just looking at the pictures!) . . . . . . .and, while asleep, something gelled in my mind. I understood what he meant! Man!! That took some time to digest that one!!
There are seven ways to cause things to relate. Yep! Seven. The very same as the elements of design: Line, Size, Shape, Direction, Color, Value and Texture. Take any two dissimilar shapes in a painting and one can relate them via manipulation of any of the seven elements. Color and Texture, for example . . . .give both shapes similar color and texture and they will relate.
A painting is a great combining of all of the elements. . . .those elements are the marks made on the canvas or paper. Relating all the parts of the painting is the art. Of course, there are different kinds of relationships, like absolute ooposition or harmony. The goal, usually, is unity . . . . .to make all the parts seem as though there is a feeling of belonging in the painting. I can assure you, it has nothing to do with things or objects.
So, then . . .should I set out to do a masterpiece every time I paint? Heck NO!! There are times when it is necessary to do warm up exercises . . .or when it is necessary to simply try something that might be niggling away at our consciousness . . . .or to just paint to feel the brush slithering out paint onto a surface. Doodling has a place in painting. To put it simply, to just try stuff without fear of ruining a ‘masterpiece.’
It is my contention that all we artists do is try. (there is a big difference between ‘try’ and ‘do.’) We move paint around and often hope for the best. So, why not doodle for the sake of finding out new solutions?
The piece above was a ‘sanity doodle.’ That is to say, to paint just to keep my sanity. I was in Kanuga working hard to bring tough subject matter to reality for a group of driven workshop participants. Preparation for such anxious people can steal all one’s painting consciousness, much less painting time. So, an hour before class, I doodled. Yep. Pointless, silly, exercises I made up just to see if I could find different ways to cause different areas of the painting to relate.
The painting will never, ever see a mat, much less a frame. But it does call to me to remind me that the doodling not only helped me settle down and be ready for class, but it taught me a few more little nuances about relationships that I needed to fully understand . . .and I will put that to work in a serious painting one day, maybe . . . . .or maybe not. But I feel more comfy in the knowledge that when needed, I can establish relationships in any painting. Doodling has shown me that.

18 thoughts on “Why Bother to Doodle??”

  1. Every painting, every sketch, every doodle is a learning experience if we keep our creative minds open. Thanks for another insightful post. I always come away from your blog feeling a little smarter. Thanks for that.


  2. "The painting will never, ever see a mat, much less a frame".

    Hey Mike. That comment has irritated me. You said it as if it was of little value and were ashamed to be doodling.

    Lots of Picassos works were nothing more than doodles in that case.

    I'd rather look upon doodling as exploratory exercises which can teach us a lot about art and painting. Some are better than others but it's nothing to be ashamed of.

    FWIW, I probably like your doodle more than some of the stuff you may have taken great pains to get right.

    Doodles slip easily onto the surface whereas the other stuff may have been persuaded to adhere to the surface with brute force and too much technical forethought.

    Just my opinion.

  3. Hey Doodledoo 🙂
    This all makes sense, and I think we all know it inately. But putting it into words to explain WHY our eyes see it works, or doesn't, is the challenge! Perfectly done sir!! 🙂

  4. Sorry to irritate you, John! I suppose that if one paints much, one still must be choosy to insure that mediocre work doesn't appear to the public. It was just my way of saying that it wasn't meant to be anything more than an exercise.

  5. Hey there Doodledee!! Nice that you came by. And I love getting big kisses from you !!

    (Hey everyone . . .Bren is my oldest daughter . . .and a great artist in her own right)

    I love you, Sweetie!

  6. I like this doodle and the great post. I also really enjoyed seeing those funny photos of you and Nick Simmons at Kanuga. Too funny! The doodle and the photos are a big insight into your personality that I never really got from your blog. Maybe you should take your silly side more seriously! LOL!

  7. Tonya . . .as for taking my silly side more seriously, . . . .


    Nick will tell ya! My silly is showing ALL the time . . .some believe to excess. As for me, I think that laughter and goofing around is the best part of each day!

  8. Mike, I'm a bit snowed under with Legato for now, but you might like to know that two of the more powerful works in it (going by photos only at this stage) are watercolour portraits from Alabama! (By a Kiwi of course, it is New Zealand art coming to Italy).

    You can see most of it on the FB page "Legato Exhibition, Italy" or on the Legato blog. (The world is shrinking, thanks to cyberspace).

    But after it finishes I'll be reading and writing and blogging and painting more… and looking for American artists passionate about peace for the 2011 exhibition for peace and remembrance here in Italy.

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