Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!

Do you get bored? Is the daily routine becoming too “easy”? Everyone needs adventure in their life. There is a need to embrace meaning in life. Adventure is a way to see beyond the present into a hopeful, exciting future. Embracing hope for tomorrow is a key to happiness. But, it is a fight.

Embracing meaning can mean many things to people. But, the unifying factor I think is becoming vulnerable to your vulnerability.

In this post, I talk about some of these ideas through doodles I did over the course of a week. Doodling is a way to place complex ideas on paper, similar to a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise.

What is this Art thing, anyway?

Art is the expression or application of human creative skill…blah, blah, blah (according to the Oxford Dictionary).

Frankly, here’s what I think.

Art is anything someone/something has “imagined” and turned into a material, “tangible” thing.

Tangible things are substantially real, perceived through any of the five senses (or more if you’re not the average human, e.g., alien?).

Art usually has a purpose, but doesn’t need to have that purpose defined in concrete terms.

A question for you: Can art be created with no purpose at all?

You’re too serious.

I’ve always loved world building. When I was a kid, legos were my medium-of-choice.

I’m sure you minecrafters out there know what I mean. Building a place with simple blocks is deeply satisfying.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
I’m using a fancy fountain pen to make simple doodles at night. I doodle in a fancy moleskine notebook. But, ultimately, does it matter what tools we use to make art? I drew this “city” at 2am in the morning in the span of an hour or so.

As I got older, however, I lost that part of me. I walk into Lego Stores, and it is my daughter who feels the thrill. She experiences the adventure. Me? I’m busy sipping my Mocha and trying to live that enjoyment through her.

I even write about her adventures, trying to make sense of where I went wrong as an adult. Wrong, as in, why is adulthood so full of seriousness?

I think it’s important to remember as we age that life is more than what we see and experience. There’s something else over the horizon.



Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
I’m doodling in a Moleskine sketchbook. It’s the perfect size and shape to carry everyday. The fountain pen I’m using is a TWSBI mini with a fine nib. Oxblood Diamine ink is great for doodling because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Doodling takes the edge off.

Sometimes the errant pipe smoke doesn’t cut it. Nicotine is both a stimulant and depressant. That is, who knows what it does to your brain and creativity.

Late at night, I enjoy a good movie or video game. If I’m busy at work, I might do some work to keep up. But, the evenings when all the kids are in bed asleep, it’s me time.

There isn’t a lot of free time, but it’s quiet.

In the past few weeks, I’ve taken up the task of re-learning how to draw. 2D art is very different than miniature painting. Although the principles are similar, e.g., contrast, form, composition, creating images on a flat surface is more difficult.

You’re starting from scratch. There are no boundaries like a 3D model sculpt. You have to envision them in your head, and sketch them out on paper. No lines to follow except the ones you make yourself.

That’s scary.

And, thrilling!

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
What is this?! I’m not sure what this is, except I like it. I see tentacles and waves. There are clouds and puffs of smoke. If I had known this would become a serious doodle, I might have started in a different notebook without lines. But, when you’re playing around with things in your head, you don’t have time to find the best materials. Grab a napkin! Tools are secondary. “Just get those marks on the page”, is my advice!

Embracing meaning in whatever marks you make, messy mistakes and all, is a key to enjoying the process of making art.

There is value in screwing up.

The best tip I’ve heard, and shared, is to finish everything you do no matter how unhappy you are with the project.

That’s why doodling is so important to an artist, I think. You’re free to explore ideas. They are never perfect, but at least you have them in front of you, locked in-ink.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
I love vibrant colors. Although a bit too pink for my taste, the saturation adds a bit of interest to an otherwise non-cohesive doodle. I’m afraid this isn’t my favorite piece of art. But, I’m still very happy I did it!

Doodling takes the edge off, because it’s the practice of making a mess and RESPECTING that mess.

Keep making marks on the page! The edges will fall away and soon you’ll find yourself in a headspace without boundaries.

Creativity versus intellectual art-making: doodling versus drawing realism?

I had trouble when I started doodling. I kept running out of ideas.

I couldn’t find things to doodle.

But, I realized quickly that doodling isn’t “drawing”. It’s different.

In fact, it’s better. Doodling is the thing you do when you want your mind to rest.

Creativity works best when you’re not thinking too hard.

What do I mean? There is a part of our brain, the analytical part that forces the creative side to shut-up, literally.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
Sometimes you want to explore different things in a doodle. In this doodle, I tried to draw some smoke stacks, but realized smoke was needed. But I didn’t want the smoke to come out of the smoke-stacks… for some reason. Instead, I realized that a fighter jet (not the whole fuselage, mind you) needed to be in here. Wow, and I see a saxophone. What do you see? A meaningless doodle gets purpose from its viewer. Every time I flip through my sketchbook, I see a different idea pop up at me. This is the cool part about doodling and saving them. You can look back and “discover” new ideas that you in fact created. Who cares that my technical skill at drawing suck. The ideas and visions I was trying to capture are in there and clearly saved for future reflection.

When you’re doing math, the complicated problem-solving kind, you don’t have room to make things up. The imagination only gets in the way, doesn’t it?

When you’re trying to solve a single equation, a problem, usually you’re looking for the BEST answer.

But, creativity and making art has no best answer. Of course, if you are trying to draw and render an image with realism, you will have to engage the analytical part of your mind.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
This is probably one of my favorite doodles in recent history. It’s titled “The Biological Machine”. It has the organic feel of a cell in your body, but the operating parts and systems of a mechanical object. These concepts are exactly what I was trying to capture. Maybe not everyone sees it, but I do. The doodle wasn’t even that hard to make, and didn’t take long. I was careful to keep my lines confident and clean. A Copic multiliner (0.25mm tip) helped me with this doodle. Again, I really should have used non-lined paper, but this notebook was all I had.

For realistic drawings, you have to fully understand proportion, anatomy, perspective, foreshortening, and all these guides for what makes a 3D space “three-D”.

This is probably why drawing realistically is so difficult. Your brain needs to switch back and forth between two “opposing systems.”

I have no interest to engage the logical side of my brain unless I need to do something specific. In doodling, there’s nothing specific I need to create.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
Spaaaace. This is a doodle of space above some planet with swirling dots. I don’t know what those squiggly lines are, but they could be clouds. Why do I always end up drawing my coolest drawings in lined notebooks? I need to keep a blank notebook nearby. This was doodled with a TWSBI mini fountain pen with a fine nib.

I’m just making marks on the paper. Embracing the meaning in the drawing comes later after I’m finished. My goal, if I really had to define one, is to fill the page as much as I can and keep the image cohesive.

This means making confident-looking lines, dots, and dashes, to form shapes and structures that seem to fit together.

I don’t over-think it. I’m free associating. That’s doodling!

How to doodle?

Have you ever wondered how to doodle better? Or better phrased, what is the best way to draw better?

Both questions are similar. You need to practice! Just keep going and repeat over and over.

Don’t be a try-hard, as they say. Just do it.

Take your pen, pencil, digital tablet, whatever, and make marks.

Mark that medium until your hands hurt, fingers burn, and neck aches. Keep going until you cry blood.

Yes, that’s how you improve anything. Hours and pressure focused on doing.

Keep making marks on the page. If you’re looking for new doodling ideas as a beginner (whatever that means), then give the following 7 steps a shot.

  1. Start with a shape.
  2. Any shape.
  3. Build it up with more shapes.
  4. Then, add value. Shade the piece, pretending a light source is somewhere in that paper space.
  5. Slowly, an image will emerge.
  6. You may not recognize what it is. But, that’s not important.
  7. Keep going until more than 50% of the page is full.

Kill the blank page.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
My TWSBI mini fountain pen shines when it comes to doodling. Smooth ink application on the page makes all the marks beautifully simple. There is no reason to use a finer pen than this. It’s all about getting those marks on the page. This is spaceship or something. I think those are birds in the lower right hand corner. Why are there birds in space?

Your tools don’t matter. Use whatever is at hand.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
All art is done alone. This cabin on a floating rock is a metaphor for a home away from home. A safe place to make art. I need a cup of coffee.

And, remember, creating is a lonely process. At the end of the day, you’ll be alone with your thoughts and struggles.

But, this is you. This is life. Everyone lives their life alone. You live with the choices you make.

Why you doodle.

Deep down I believe everyone has a story. Doodling reveals parts of it.

As a human, we are desperate, starving…like a flower for sunlight, trying to understand that Story.

So, we do things to create that story: to recreate that unknown story.

I see this in my children. They create because it’s normal. It’s natural to tell stories and experience them.

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
Blue craft paint squiggled on a sheet of computer paper by a toddler. These are “blue eggs” from a chicken who will emerge from the imagination of a child, and placed onto another sheet of paper (see the next photo).

She tells me a story and paints because she’s trying to make me see what she sees.

“These are eggs,” she says.

I look at blobs of paint. These are her doodles. They aren’t but messy marks of acrylic paint. But they are real things to her mind.

While my doodles with pen and ink are more refined, they do carry meaning, too. But, in fact, my daughter at her young age is more vivid with her imaginary.

Why do I struggle so much to see what I’m doing on paper? Her drawings and marks aren’t very accurate to reality.

“Oh, eggs,” I say agreeing with her. “What is that?”

Do You Day Dream? Doodling Visions, Ideas, and Tips!
Green chickens with two legs…and an arm? She will need to work on her anatomy. But, first preschool. She’s genius with making art happen (it’s all she wants to do right now). Keep going!

“A chicken.”

I nod. I can see a large blob with two lines, representing legs.

If my daughter says she sees a chicken, then who am I to say it isn’t?

She’s a creative genius in my eyes.


But, the neat thing is that she’s COMPLETELY SATISFIED WITH HER ART.

Let’s look at my doodles.

Why am I not more satisfied? What is my art missing that would make me more content with my effort?

I know the answer.

I’m missing my childhood. My adult brain has become too full of logic and only believing what it sees. It’s too analytical, and dare I say control-freaky.

So, this is why I doodle.

I doodle to kill the part of me that has grown old.

Doodling makes me a kid again.

Take home message.

Doodle onward my friends. I’m doodling now on a regular basis to keep the creative juices flowing despite all the serious things happening around me.

Art is the thing that requires no intrinsic meaning, except for what we project onto it.

Doodling is another verb for “play”.

Go and play!

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