All About Doodling: Add Personality to Your Art With Just a Pen + FREE Printable Worksheets
When was the last time you picked up a pen and allowed your mind to quietly zoom out of focus as you doodled on the page (tablecloth, napkin?) in front of you? Much like the act of coloring, doodling taps into your creative side and has the added benefit of helping you unwind after a particularly stressful day.
The Benefits of Doodling
This type of doodling is often unplanned and with no real outcome in mind: When you draw, sketch, or scribble, you can allow your mind to wander and not be so intensely focused on what you're making. The process and act of doodling itself becomes more important than the end result. What's more, aimlessly scribbling while your mind is otherwise occupied can promote relaxation, helping you slip into a more meditative state.
Doodling can also enhance the creative process and add interest to your artwork. If you ever get stuck artistically, consider taking a break to simply doodle and see if any ideas start to flow more freely after the pressure is off and you're enjoying an activity that helps tap into your subconscious. When working on a mixed-media project or art journal page, try using doodles to add another layer of interest or as a way to add emphasis to any aspects of your artwork you want to call more attention to.
We've picked out a handful of pieces from the pages of Somerset Studio to help inspire you to bring back the humble doodle in your next piece. And don't forget to collect your free printable doodling worksheets toward the bottom of this post.
Inspiration for Adding Doodling to Your Artwork
Tea & Tangles
Many years ago, I discovered that staining paper with coffee or tea could create an interesting vintage effect that could be a springboard to working in a variety of ways with different mediums. As I thought of how I could combine my love of paper, patterns, layering, and doodling I recalled some wonderful flower collages done by Susan Black. I wanted to not only create beautiful floral compositions, but also to expand and try out some other simple shape ideas.
The idea of working with simple shapes and adding doodles, or wat is now commonly termed Zentangle or "tangle" designs was also appealing as a way to de-stress after the workday ... with a cup of tea in hand, of course.
To create the shapes, begin by selecting your color palette. A playful approach will allow you to tap into your intuitive nature. Haphazardly cut circle, oval, and leaf shapes of different sizes and begin layering them to get a feel for what looks good together. The imperfection of the shapes adds interest. Once the composition is created, a section at a time can be removed for designing. Select several pen colors to create outlines and tangle designs on each of the shapes. Adhere to your background and move on to the next section.
— MARNITA PATTON⎟ SOMERSET STUDIO JULY/AUGUST 2018
Mini-books always have a hold on my heart, and I especially love concertina types. There is something so special about unfolding and discovering the inside pages. This particular book has rust within its pages and also rusted elements added in the form of paper clips. There are text blocks with encouraging words to lift the spirits and journaling within the layers too. I love to doodle and can sit for hours just doodling and switching off from the world; it’s very mindful. I love to draw flowers and leaves, and when I discovered a way to color my flowers with rust, I was over the moon.
For this project, Mags cut her doodles out and arranged them on book pages along with stamped word sentiments. She added stems with a fine-liner pen and highlights with a white gel pen. After adhering the elements to the book pages, she outlined the word blocks with a soft pencil for emphasis and smudged it using a cotton swab or blending stump.
— MAGS WOODCOCK (@SHEPAINTSPROMISE)⎟ SOMERSET STUDIO SUMMER 2023
When Old Meets New: Juxtaposing Styles in Mixed-Media
Although I have been art journaling for over 20 years, I have really only been exploring mixed-media for the last three or so. In that time, I have found that I have trouble working solely in one style. There is just too much out there to explore, and it all feels like being a kid in a candy store. Who could pick just one kind of candy? My approach to art is very much like buying candy — I want to try it all.
In my search to try new techniques, I have been exploring the many online class offerings from all the creatives out there. It was after taking a couple of Laura Horn’s classes (I recommend any of them) that some doors were opened for me ... One thing I really enjoyed was trying out someone else’s color schemes and textures. I have been doing journal spreads in very bright colors because they are so immediately joyful. I learned to work in some more neutral palettes that began to set a more antique tone, something very new to me. I had tried to make handmade papers but with little success. After taking Laura’s class, however, I came away with some great ideas, like using old sewing patterns as collage paper, for example. I had seen it done before, but it never occurred to me to actually try it out on my own. Soon I was making all sorts of papers and thinking of how I could add texture in different ways.
Once my compositions were started, I began to really add all my old techniques along with the new. I have always had a love for old ephemera — don’t we all? Way back when, I lived by a great flea market in Rowley, Massachusetts, I used to sift through boxes of old photographs and bring new ones home every weekend. The only problem was that I hesitated to use them in my art because they were too precious! Then I discovered the Tim Holtz idea-ology paper dolls and, all of a sudden, I had no reason to feel guilty. I use these images often and love their vintage feel against abstract, contemporary, or mixed-media backgrounds. I like to offset the muted tones and Old-World feel with my doodling, mostly of botanicals. Botanicals are simple to draw, and I like how they can be used to pull everything together on a page.
— MEGAN WHISNER QUINLAN (@MEGAN_WHISNER_QUINLAN) ⎟ SOMERSET STUDIO SUMMER 2021
We hope you enjoyed these snippets from the pages of
How do you incorporate doodling in your artwork? Let us know in the comments below!