I have been “doodling” since college. It started out with this kid Eric VonZeigaser (spelling) who was a Deadhead, he did these incredible doodles with black pen that were absolutely symmetrical “Steal your Face” and Dancing Bear and etc doodles. I was fascinated, and I started trying to do it to. One problem: NOT a Deadhead. Second Problem: Incapable of symmetry. My doodles became more organic flowing, curving lines and rounded shapes. Flames, leaves, women, trees, checkerboards, birds, stars, moons, and later lotus flowers, buddhas, nerve cell, branching lines, flowers. At some point a person invented ZenTangles and I realized had missed my million dollar idea! If only I had marketed it right!
Over time people have either loved or hated my doodles. The criticism varies from I don’t like it, I don’t get it, to its all been done before. I showed my doodles to a professor of art (more on this later) and he shrugged, I showed his friend and guest speaker at the college, he said these are just great! I love them, and hey Prof, have you seen these?
My doodles have not changed much over the years, I mean the subjects have changed. They are certainly less mystical and idealistic than they were. THE RIFT (see notes on being blindsided with divorce) caused realism to enter my art, my psyche and my life. Not only did I start painting realistically, my doodles became less about emerging butterflies from mystical cocoons and more about elephant headed women, emerging from the muck as zombie eating dragons.
I went from BIC pens and flair markers and fabric markers to colorful professional markers, watercolors to acrylics, to single color black micron pens. Taking some doodles and making them paintings, adding a doodle quality to abstract art. Doodling in paint altogether, and now. Doodling on more or less realistic structures.
Although my dear friend, and confidant, and trusted advisor has said she does not like my doodles in the past, and has more recently suggested that I have been there, done that, I see the doodling as being a huge part of my process. Of course they haven’t changed much in the last 32 years, because fundamentally they are at my very core, a deep expression of my inner thoughts, turmoil, joy and fears, why would they change? And where they have changed, as in the idealism to the realistic, so have I on a very deep level.
And really so many of the things I doodle are a visual language. Woman is self, woman as goddess, woman faltering, woman bowing, woman begging the heavens, woman crying, woman fetal, woman dancing, woman warrior, woman worrier.
Tree is life, breath, breathing, lungs, arteries, veins, solitary self, belief in the idea that we are a small part of a greater being. Leaf is part of this see also flames. Flower is part of the cycle of life, and plants in general nature and the atomic to galactic philosophy.
Dragon is anger, ferocity, standing up for oneself, speaking ones mind. Sticking to your guns, and standing by your moral code.
Sea creatures are in my earlier works, I think these are symbols of my daughter whom I think of as a totem otter. Clams are pearls, the core of myself, margarita, Margaret, gem from grit. Meg from grit. Ugly duckling to swan. Phoenix is a remnant from college at first the bird on fire, as it is best know, but later a egg laid, a fledgling from the ashes, a silly looking bird that has set itself on fire. Renewal. Cycle of living life.
Elephants are the female grouping, womens’ group, female family members standing together, family.
Birds are spirit, the crow the spirit of the witch the crone, chickadee the symbol of cheerful assiduousness. Snakes are the voice of mother earth, messages from the spirit world.
Flames are prayer, hands are supplicating, asking why, asking please, asking help.
Vulvas are female power.
Butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians, phoenix are all part of transformation.
Eyes are wisdom and protection.
Horse is freedom.
Water are words, song, music, the passage of life, connection to the universe, connection to nature, connection to self.
This visual language relates completely and fundamentally to the core of my inner self, my spiritual philosophy, and my character. To stop doodling would be in a way a stopping of my connection to my inner world. And when I don’t have any ideas on what to paint, a rare event these days, I doodle to process. When I am stressed I doodle to destress, a visual journal of sorts. And this doodling has lead me to a very steady hand, building fine structural muscles in my hands that create precision when I make paintings.
Best of all my dear friend has led me to thinking about this doodling I do, and helped me to solidify my process, my philosophy and understand the fundamental strength it gives me emotionally, spiritually and physically.
I love to doodle. I hope I never stop!
More on doodling later.