Jeff McCloskey Doodle

Just Do(odle) It!

Blog by Jeff McCloskey

Doodling is the brooding of the hand. -Saul Steinberg

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk. -Paul Klee

One of my earliest and favorite memories of drawing as a child was doodling. When my uncle used to visit he would make a game out of drawing. Taking turns, we would each scribble or doodle a shape onto a piece of paper and than have the other person try to make something from it. This jumble of lines might look like a monsters face, that scribble… a cat or a dog.

40+ years later…. I’m still doodling. While on the phone… during meetings… Sunday morning while drinking coffee, doodling around the edges of the crossword puzzle. If there is a piece of paper and pencil in front of me, at some point I’m going to pick up the pencil and make a mark on something. When visiting my mother a few years ago I was sitting at the kitchen table and picked up a pencil and paper and started doodling. Snickering to the left and right of me were my younger brother and sister… I was set up… before I arrived they placed random pens and paper on the table and waited to see how long before I picked them up… apparently it was not very long.

Sometimes it’s just random marks on a napkin … sometimes on the blank margins of a newspaper. A coffee stain on the edge of some work papers might be the perfect starting point for a doodle… the brown stained edge looking a little like the profile of face or an animal. Eyeballs, birds, fish, alien looking leaves and flowers, distorted faces and skulls are favorite recurring themes. These images might have other psychological or subliminal meanings… but that is for another article.

Scrap pieces of paper, napkins, cardboard, newspaper, paper plates, envelopes from junk mail, brown paper bags… At a previous job I loved doodling on the white formica desktop with pencil, it had the perfect surface… plus the bonus of the occasional coffee stain. I very seldom doodle in sketch books. I’m not recommending this … but for me.. somehow the scrap paper is more freeing…letting you feel more open to experiment and try new things… not worrying about making a mistake… not having to be perfect.

Because of computers, ipads and smart phones you seem to pick up a pen less and less… let alone a pencil. When was the last time you sharpened a pencil? So I try and do at least a few doodles a day… and try to keep them quick… just a few minutes.

A pencil, pen, marker or crayon… if it makes a mark… I’ll use it.

It usually starts with just a scribble… an organic flowing mark.. Sometimes that’s all it ever is … just a scribble… to be discarded later… other times the jumble of lines, swirls and curves create interesting abstract images… and sometimes they reveal things… a leaf… the wing of a bird, the face of an old man. I try not to erase… and just go where the lines take me. The ones I like I save…. sometimes the whole page… sometimes just tearing off the corner and tucking into a book for safe keeping to reveal itself later, not even remembering doing it. One day… I plan to paste them into a book…. well, maybe. Or one day exploring them further … turning them into a full illustration.

Regardless… I enjoy doing them. Sometimes it is just a way to relax… Sometimes it is a great way to warm up before working on a painting or an illustration. And sometimes a random doodle will inspire me for another project. Some of the final illustrations for noname art group projects started as a doodle.

So the next time you are about to throw away that grey piece of cardboard that your new shirt was wrapped around… pick up that ball point pen… doodle a few lines… wait… that kinda looks like a…

Jeff was our Featured artist in July 2011. Read about Jeff here >

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