doodling and claiming my artistic voice

I’ve always been a doodler but never thought much about it.

My husband often remarked on it, lavishing compliments on me and my doodles that seemed unnecessary. It wasn’t until years later, when I began to understand more about the creative psyche, that I realized he might be responding to the deeper unconscious origins of the doodles. They’ve always been abstract, improvisational and unstructured.

That’s a good way to describe all of my visual stuff. I think of it as unconstructed. Maybe I have some vague idea where I’m starting, but after that, all bets are off. I just try to stay open to whatever flows out. It’s often rough and messy and confusing. Certainly it’s far from precise.

Maybe that’s why it took me so long to say I’m an artist.

I do have experience with a more precise, constructed approach to other art forms, though. Something about that commitment to precision made it easier to acknowledge that I’m an actor, singer, storyteller, writer. And in those art forms I’m pretty good at the precision thing: learning the lines or the songs, understanding the character, getting up onstage, writing a fairly decent story or performance piece. So a performing artist? Sure. A literary artist? Yes, as I got a little older. But a visual artist? Oh. No. That wasn’t me. My stuff was too loose. Shadowy. Nebulous.

But last summer, at the end of my first year of facilitating the women’s creative wisdom circle, something shifted. I had a body of work. To be sure, it was still imprecise and unconstructed, but it was tangible. I could hold it in my hands. I could say I created this. And because of those regular acts of making and creating, I began to turn toward a new possibility:

The possibility that even an imprecise, intuitive, seat-of-her-pants doodler might be able to claim the name artist for herself.

In honor of that transition I’m giving my doodles center stage today. And true to form, today’s piece started from a very vague place. All I knew for sure was that I was going to search through my art journal, cutting out random doodles and assembling them into a collage. The rest of it simply emerged. Some of what’s in this collage I retrieved from the recycling bin in my office/studio; the rest of it was sitting somewhere within three feet of me, bits and pieces of this and that. I’m not really sure how it all came together to be this. But I’m glad it did, because making it was a deep and rich experience.

Now, I’d love to hear about your own journey of claiming your artistic voice.

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2 thoughts on “doodling and claiming my artistic voice

  1. Hi Patty,

    Beautiful doodles. Did you use watercolor here? Pretty, aren’t they?

    We need more doodling in the world. It lets out all kinds of inner wisdom like your “Turn The Corner.” that says “take the risk to me.”

    Well, I’m always doing something new artistically. Am finally showing my work. For years I just hid all my art in my home, using the “excuse” I didn’t want to spring for the frame. Have just had my fourth piece framed for hanging. Have one art show entry under my belt, two more are going up this week and have entered another one – my favorite: Wild Carousel. I love carousel horses and will be painting more of them.

    And just finished up an ink brush painting watercolor class. I’m a big color girl, so it’s been fun to make my watercolors really colorful and not muddy it up.

    Thanks! G. (still will not let me leave my primary info. instead some backup account.)

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