Doodling for Focus and Inspiration


In conjunction with my last post, I thought I’d share a fun way that I use sometimes to get out of the “expectation” mode and into the “focus” mode.

There are just some days when I want to make something but have no idea what to draw or paint. Those are the days when I can spend hours on doodling, especially using the technique known as “Zentangle”. This method of mark-making takes all the pressure out of decision making. You don’t have to choose a subject, you can use all the materials you feel like using, and you don’t have to feel guilty about producing something inconsequential. The whole purpose of the creation is to enjoy the process.

What’s great about this method is that

  1. It makes me appreciate my materials.
  2. It makes me go slow and be mindful of how I’m making marks.
  3. When I’m finished, I take a few minutes to appreciate the work and try to view it in the same way that anyone else would, rather than from an “attached” perspective.

Doing these three things is good practice for when I’m creating more important works of art. And since I make these doodles in a dedicated sketchbook, it’s fun to look back on the collection and recognize that the sketchbook in its entirety is a nice artwork.

I won’t explain the Zentangle methodology here, as there are plenty of websites and YouTube videos that show you how. Some of my favorites are the Zentangle YouTube page, BB Tangle Dream, Botangle, and Zen Linea. Zen Linea also has classes on SkillShare.

You don’t have to follow a tutorial, of course – you don’t even have to use this method to get the benefits of letting your mind go and your pen wander. Just pull out some paper and a mark making tool and doodle!

As a bonus, I’ve added a flip-through video of my doodling sketchbook. I apologize for the poor lighting and a couple shots of my head. I’m learning how to make and edit videos in the hope that someday I can show them publicly on YouTube.

The sketchbook that I’m using in the video is no longer for sale at Arteza, but this one is similar, just a bit larger. I also use their gel pens, in addition to Gelly Roll pens, Uni-Pin pens, Sakura Microns, and various watercolor and colored pencil brands.

And here are a couple of close ups:

This is one of my favorites, made with alcohol marker, colored pencil, gel pen and Microns. I made this following a class on SkillShare by Zen Linea. She is a fantastic teacher!
This was a doodle I did while traveling, inspired from a design I’d seen on the web (sorry, I don’t remember where). I kept trying to layer colored pencil but the paper would only take 3 or 4 layers.
Another doodle from Zen Linea’s tutorials. The underlying color was made with brush pen, shading and tones were done with colored pencil. I love the stained glass effect.

Have you used doodling or Zentangle to relax between artworks? I’d love to hear how it works for you!


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