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Arts & Crafts : Explore the 'New Wisdom' of Doodling

Explore the ‘New Wisdom’ of Doodling

Creative Stream-of-Consciousness Drawings

By Chris Dunmire

Doodled Fish and BubblesWhat do you think when you see someone doodling during a class lecture or a department meeting? Are they paying attention or mindlessly daydreaming? Do you ever wonder if doodling helps them in their learning process? You may be surprised.

The April 2010 issue of Oprah magazine features an article by Melinda Wenner ("Imperfect Harmony") discussing the upsides to some common "bad behaviors" like anger, procrastination, gossip, and...doodling. Wenner charts both the "old thinking" and "new wisdom" of each behavior based on research showing how these qualities may benefit us after all. In the article Bryan Gibson, PhD, a professor of social psychology at Central Michigan University is quoted: "In certain situations, what is typically a detrimental trait can turn out to be a good one." Here's the old thinking and new wisdom Wenner shares about doodling:

Old Thinking: "Scribbling circles on a notepad while your company's chief inspiration officer drones on about synergy means you have trouble focusing."

New Wisdom: "Doodling can boost your mind's ability to notice and remember mundane information by nearly 30 percent, according to research from the University of Plymouth. The theory is that the act of drawing makes use of visuospacial processes in the brain that might otherwise be used for daydreaming, thereby preventing your mind from wandering."

Umbrella DoodleAs an avid doodler myself (from classrooms to conference rooms), I can attest to this wisdom and have successfully used doodling to enhance many learning experiences. Plus, as a visual learner, I have quietly self-illustrated many concepts during meetings to make them more clear in my mind. And about that visuospacial process stuff? Surely doodling is what helped me remember Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man from 8th grade all these years!

Would you like to make use of doodling for enhanced learning or simply just for creative fun? You can! All you really need is a drawing tool (pen, pencil, marker) and some paper. Or, if you prefer to doodle digitally on the computer, you can use any graphics or drawing program (such as Windows Paint, Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator), or make use of free online whiteboard drawing sites. You can draw with your mouse or a stylus tablet (Wacom is a popular brand).

Non-linear Popcorn DoodleTo help you along in your doodle-drawing, I've compiled some additional doodling research, articles, and Web sites below for your enjoyment. And in case you're curious, the doodled images on this page are all authentic specimens scanned from my own notebooks. Yes, you're never too old to doodle! In fact, I find doodling a great stress-reliever promoting humor, light-heartedness, and well-being. See, the wisdom of these stream-of-consciousness drawings is fluid and ever-expanding...just like a doodle!

Doodling Research, Fun, & How-to's

Roller Coaster Doodle

Doodling: Attention Deficit Disorder or Surplus Reorder?
According to artist/teacher Bert Dodson in his book "Keys to Drawing with Imagination", most of us are doodlers. We doodle while on the phone, in meetings, and in the classroom.

Jacob Lett's
Learn about doodling, watch doodling videos, get ideas, and doodle on an online sketchpad.

Draw a Stickman
A fun, 5-minute creative doodle diversion. Draw a stickman and then watch it come to life!

Doodling at Wikipedia
"A doodle is a type of sketch, an unfocused drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes." Contents include: Etymology, Effects on memory, and Famous doodlers.

Abstract: What Does Doodling Do?
An applied cognitive psychology paper abstract by Jackie Andrade from the School of Psychology, University of Plymouth, UK answering the question "Does doodling improve or hinder attention to the primary task?" based on a study with 40 participants. (Full text of article was, but no longer is free to read).

The Importance of Doodling and Creativity
A doodling lesson from Fantasy Art School.

Line Forms DoodleHow to Doodle at wikiHow
A step-by-step demonstration on using doodling for improving drawing skills.

Zentangle — Anything is Possible...One Stroke at a Time
"Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing. It increases focus and creativity." Site offers enlightening "Theory of Zentangle", instructional articles, newsletter archives, and a wealth of doodle example images to inspire your own doodles.

Doodle Art Alley — Explore the Magic of the Doodle!
A fun resource featuring sections on doodling basics (What to Doodle, How to Doodle), free coloring pages, doodle galleries, history, and interpretation.

Doodle 4 Google: Home Page Doodles History
Be inspired by the artful doodles of adults and children while learning the history behind the themed doodles and logos you encounter on Google's home page on holidays, notable historical markers, and other special occasions. Educators will be interested in the submission requirements for the Doodle 4 Google competitions "open to all students in U.S. schools from kindergarten to grade 12.'

Sybil MacBeth's Praying in Color
"'Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God' by Sybil MacBeth introduces the active, visual prayer practice the author calls 'praying in color.'" The site supports the ideas in the book and how to use doodling as a meditative prayer practice by illustrated examples of "praying in color" prayers and its accompanying blog.

Free Online Drawing & Doodling Whiteboards

Girl DoodleDoodle Ideas Canvas Draw Sketchpad
Create artistic doodles using different brush sizes and colors. When you're finished drawing you can save your doodle and download it as a picture!

"Scriblink is a free digital whiteboard that users can share online in real-time. Sorta like pen and paper, minus the dead trees, plastic, and the inconvenience of being at the same place at the same time."

Online drawing and doodler tool.

Updated 12/17/13