Zen and the Art of Doodling

I’ve always been a doodler—have you? I remember taking notes in high school and college and decorating the margins with nondescript squiggles, piles of squares, and a recurring cluster of grapes. I had no idea that doodling was anything more than something that kept me from being bored in classes and at meetings. Recently, however, I watched this TED talk about its value:

Just google the phrase “benefits of doodling,” and you’ll be astounded at the research that supports it as a powerful brain tool. Who knew?

zenspirations cover

Zenspirations: Letters & Patterning by Joanne Fink

So, after feeling confident with my painting effort (see previous post), I went to Michael’s to nose around the art section. That’s a couple of intimidating aisles! I spotted an end-cap display with some books that caught my eye. They all had to do with Zen and drawing or Zen and doodling. I picked one up, leafed through it, and saw the simple step-by-step instructions. “I can do this,” I told myself. So I bought the book and some fine-line Sharpies to get started. This is the book:

After reading the introduction and basics covered in the book, I started trying out some of the patterns and pieces that evening. I’d always had good handwriting, so the loops and swirls and lines looked like things I could manage. I had a spiral-bound blank journal to work with, so I opened my Sharpie, found a page with something kind of simple, and gave it a try. Here’s the first thing I finished:

first doodles3










It seemed to need something, so I used the Copic markers to brighten things up a bit. (See previous post, Fun with Color, about my Copic class.) This is how it turned out:

first doodles4









I was encouraged, but I knew I’d need to practice if I wanted to do some of the other pieces I liked. And I’d have to give myself permission to mess it up. That’s where the Zen of the art comes in. Check back next time and I’ll explore that topic with you.

Happy doodling, dear doodlers!

Fun with Color

standard designer (3)

About a week ago, I spent eight hours in a classroom with twenty women. We colored. We shaded. We erased. And we did all of this with Copic® markers. When we were finished, each of us was certified as a Standard Copic Marker Designer. This means we are allowed to teach the techniques (the basics only) of using these very special markers. TEACH? Not yet. I still need a lot of practice before I feel adequate to teach anyone how to use them.

Here are a few key details:

  1. Choose the right paper. If paper is too porous, the blending can be muddy and you will use a lot more ink.
  2. This is more than coloring. This is more like painting—mixing colors, adding colors, saturating.
  3. Don’t be afraid to “mess up” the marker. They practically clean themselves!
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There’s a marker that ERASES boo boos!

Here are a few of the practice pieces I worked on.

flowergirlmouse cupmice tulip