Journal

The Joy of Doodling

by | Aug 18, 2014 | Editorial

One of my grandsons, who’s in elementary school, was home sick for a few days and very bored. He loves to draw so I went to the bookstore to buy him some kind of How-to-Draw Monsters or Superheroes – type of book.
What I found – in the kids’ section – were several step-by-step drawing books, the approaches of which were very structured (i.e. left-brained) and led to an impossible ideal they could never match. Even I, an adult pen & ink artist who works intuitively, couldn’t follow those instructions and even if I did, I would end up with some else’s drawing, not mine.  Then I thought from the point of view of a nine-year-old. He would either give up in frustration or conclude, “I can’t do this. I’ll never be an artist.” How many kids have had that experience, or something similar, and simply shut down a part of themselves without well meaning, loving adults in their lives ever being aware of it?

Instead I bought my grandson a book that encourages doodling. Each page has a title or question or suggestion, and a partial, very childlike drawing. The child fills in the rest. He makes it up. He draws whatever feels right. It’s a book full of joy meant to prompt joy. It provides beginnings, ideas, promptings, so there’s no terror of the blank page, but it does not provide impossible standards against which the child might measure him or herself. How liberating!

When I gave it to my grandson, he disappeared with it for over an hour. We had to cajole him to put it down and come have dinner.

What I found – in the kids’ section – were several step-by-step drawing books, the approaches of which were very structured (i.e. left-brained) and led to an impossible ideal they could never match. Even I, an adult pen & ink artist who works intuitively, couldn’t follow those instructions and even if I did, I would end up with some else’s drawing, not mine.  Then I thought from the point of view of a nine-year-old. He would either give up in frustration or conclude, “I can’t do this. I’ll never be an artist.” How many kids have had that experience, or something similar, and simply shut down a part of themselves without well meaning, loving adults in their lives ever being aware of it?

Instead I bought my grandson a book that encourages doodling. Each page has a title or question or suggestion, and a partial, very childlike drawing. The child fills in the rest. He makes it up. He draws whatever feels right. It’s a book full of joy meant to prompt joy. It provides beginnings, ideas, promptings, so there’s no terror of the blank page, but it does not provide impossible standards against which the child might measure him or herself. How liberating!

When I gave it to my grandson, he disappeared with it for over an hour. We had to cajole him to put it down and come have dinner.

We use cookies to give you a better experience. Dismiss