Doodling Around - Scribbles from a Scribe

When I'm not Googling "murder" or looking up cases of life threatening illnesses and self-diagnosing, I use the internet for more constructive purposes such as finding out "what your doodles really mean".

Ever since Urg and Thog first left their ochre and fire soot hand prints in the deepest recesses of caves, people have been leaving their individual doodle marks on society in some form or other.  Having moved on from rocky walls and into better climes and comforts, or in some cases, "the office", these days most of us choose pen and paper to express what's really on our minds.  Lines, circles, cubes, eyes, arrows, etc. everyone doodles something.  The best part of a doodle is that it is done automatically.  Not much thought goes into a doodle and yet just the simple act of doodling seems to make us feel better.  You don't need to be an "artist" to doodle.

I even enjoy writing the word "doodle".  In my mind the word looks like soft and squiggly lines.

I've been drawing since I was about four years old.  It's a habit that started in Church.  My dad always kept a silver pen and a small notepad in the inside breast pocket of his suit and after the opening hymns and announcements, he would hand them to me as the sermon began (hey, an hour is a lifetime to a small child).

I would draw happily, and my first repetitive doodle always took on the same theme:  Golgotha, three crosses, and a Roman helmet, shield and sword laid at the foot of the middle cross.  Seriously, I was four. #mensa

My images were steeped in the Biblical.  I loved to hear those old, epic stories read aloud and to pore over the colourful illustrations accompanying them so it was natural for me to draw on heroic themes for my creative inspiration.  If only I was old enough to articulate "Michelangelo", "Da Vinci", "Ben Hur", "Cecil B. DeMille", etc.

Art continued to be a big thing with me as I got older and it was encouraged in every medium.  Influences were all around me too, and not only of the Old Testament variety.  Very quickly I became fascinated with my immediate surroundings, nature and people as my go-to drawing and doodling themes.

Starting at around grade six certain doodles began to take on lives of their own, namely, shoes and faces. Over the years they became my signature, especially faces.  From time to time, I come across old doodles of such and they have not changed much - usually drawn in the margin of a notebook, or covering a sheet of scrap paper, these tiny drawings of high heeled shoes and petulant female facial profiles have come to symbolize a not-so-hidden desire within my heart - to have some input in the world of fashion and beauty.

Or do they all mean something deeper......?

Drawn with proper art tools, with a finger on a fogged up window, in sand with my foot at the beach, with a lip liner or clumsily on a computer pad, these images are always bursting forth.

People...faces....stylish women....and I've noticed a strange constant - the faces always seem to have a characteristic of my own face; whether it's the hair or the eyes, there is something of my soul in each one.

The shoes that I doodle all resemble court shoes with variable heel heights and styles.  I'm not alone in this fixation with shoes and at least three times a week I make reference to shoes via other people's fashion posts on my own Facebook pages. 

Have you ever doodled while you are on the phone or at work?  Do you find that you seem to do the same drawing over and over?  Do you find that doodling helps with your creative process?  I seem to do some of my best work on napkins at bars, or the lids of take out containers.  Also, in lieu of pen paper, some coloured chalk and the actual bar top will suffice.

Bar top impromptu fashion sketches - Photo credit:  Helena McMurdo

Bar top impromptu fashion sketches - Photo credit:  Helena McMurdo

Leaving my mark in washrooms (relax - only on available chalkboards!!), sandy beaches, cocktail coasters, Post-it note pads and other receptive surfaces, I continue to put forth what countless cave dwellers have done before me:  "I was here and this (image) means something to me". 

Think of it as portable graffiti for the soul.

Doodles throughout this post were scribbled by Heather Phillips