Mindful drawing, doodling, adult colouring… is it art?!

A lot of my posts pose the question – is it art? And this week I have been thinking about my doodling and intuitive art practice.

I have always doodled a lot, especially in long meetings and there is evidence that it helps you listen, so I have taken that to be a good thing! But recently whilst on holiday I took it to a new level and started to wonder if mindful drawing/ adult colouring/ neurographic art/ zen drawing/ intuitive drawing.. are all the same thing and all providing the same benefits to my mental health. I’m calling it ‘free drawing’ :).

I always take art supplies on holiday but I cannot paint, so I took a watercolour book that I had pre coloured with some ink splashes, watercolour blobs, acrylic paint scrapings… each page was different and I had about a dozen of them. Armed with a black fine point pen and my Poscas, early on I started mindlessly (or is that mindfully or intuitively?) drawing lines, and making connections and I liked what I did (see below). The result was fun, aesthetically pleasing (to me anyway) and most of all calming and theraputic to do.

It was interesting to see the little characters that turned up, little people and a lot of eyes!

Working in this way is a meditation and very healing. It is your subconcious that is drawing, your concious mind doesn’t have to think, it can relax.

As the holiday progressed I honed in on what I found most rewarding and the drawings became simpler and bolder whilst retaining their ethereal quality and I started to like them even more.

Since I have returned to my studio, this method of drawing has crept into my painting practice and I am excited to see what develops.

There are loads of instructional videos out there (especially if you search for “neurographic” on YouTube. I believe that there are no rules (except the few suggestions I make below) and that whatever it’s called, it’s all the same thing:

Free drawing practice

  • You can do this with any paper and any biro, pencil or sharpie, but I like to do it on decent watercolour paper and use my favorite pen, a uni-ball Eye Fine in black.
  • I start either by just losely putting lines and circles on a white page or more often by prepping the page with ink or watercolour to give me shapes to start with (see picture below).
  • Start picking out shapes, work quickly, don’t think about it.
  • Turn the page regularly so it doesn’t get a top and you see different things.
  • I then go back over each line, slowly thickening it, making it shaped, adding wiggles and texture. I especially concentrate on where lines meet and try to make sure they are all curved.
  • Just keep going, listening to your intuition, not planning or thinking until you know it’s done!

Each one of the above pictures took a couple of hours. I find it meditative and very rewarding. Remember these are not for showing, they are for you to enjoy and see what develops.

The starting point – watercolour squiggles!

Is it art?

To answer my initial question, of course it is! It is creativity in it’s purest form.


The benefits of doodling – Harvard Medical School

%d bloggers like this: