I've been working on new textile designs for a costume project and inadvertently become preoccupied with doodling as a form of mark making. Doodling is the act of creating drawings in an unconscious and unfocused manner. It’s perfect for the long winter months, and apparently akin to meditation in it’s therapeutic benefits. It’s very freeing to doodle and to lose yourself in the repetitive process, but a bit like meditation my biggest challenge is to empty my brain and lose focus enough to really let go. Letting go doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a perfectionist who has struggled to come to terms with this character trait. As a child I would despair if my drawing didn’t turn out how I’d hoped and infact it took me well into my adulthood to embrace my perfectionist tendencies and realise the benefits of being a nippy perfectionist in my career as a Costume Designer. For drawing and painting, however, I like to let go and doodling is helping me achieve this state of mind.
Doodling generally gets a bad rap. Often associated with boredom, the word itself originally meant fool or simpleton. It was one of the things I would be reprimanded for doing in class, but according to scientific studies doodling can aid your memory and focus your attention. It should be encouraged. The greatest inventor of all time, Leonardo da Vinci was partial to a spot of doodling. Admittedly his scribbles were more high brow than mine and apparently on closer inspection contained revolutionary physics discoveries, but they were doodles none the less.
I found a description of doodling as “thinking in pictures”. Maybe for Leonardo this was the case, but is it infact the lack of thought? Total disengagement of the left side of the brain, allowing for the right side, the creative side, to take over? Is that still thinking? Apparently the left brain, right brain theory is a myth. People described as left brain thinkers were told they had skills in maths and logical thinking. Right brain thinkers tended to be more creative. Myth or not I like to imagine my brain switching sides on and off depending on my needs and it makes sense to my logical side that it needs to switch off for the creative side to gain momentum. Confused? I’m clearly over thinking this. It must be time to switch off the left side of the brain and let the right take over. Time to return to doodling, improve my memory and delight in a meditative experience to boot. A simple pastime with so many benefits.