Doodling Practice

Been awhile since I’ve blogged. A LONG while. But I’m doing this again. I’ve started a “doodling practice” to get me back in gear for massive writing/illustrating this year. It’s been good. It goes on my list of to-do’s every day, and most days I do it.

It started because I bought a lamp. That sounds really stupid, but it is true, at least in part. I’ve been thinking about getting down and dirty with illustrations–in other words, just a blank piece of paper and a felt-tip pen–for some time. No pencil. No software to back me up. Just my Sharpie and me. But I didn’t do it because…because…because. There were lots of “becauses”, because I’m a human and “because” sometimes becomes a way of life. However, I went to Target after Christmas this year–no, not before. I do all my shopping online before. AFTER is when I go and pick up some deals for myself, when the pressure is off. And I saw a lamp.

This lamp sits on the floor, but it’s five and a half feet or so tall, and it curves over my couch, so when I nest down for television or whatever, It provides this soft illumination over me. And the shade is round, but it’s totally blocked in–no visible bulb at all, it is just this round, squatty cylinder of glowing light hanging above me. And you know what I thought when I bought it? I can really DRAW underneath that thing. And it turns out, I can!

So, let me back up to BEFORE Christmas. WAY before Christmas. I’m a photographer, portrait work, families, babies, seniors, the whole deal. I have a Studio, but I do a lot of stuff outside. And my location being Iowa, our BEST, MOST POPULAR season is fall. I shoot all year around, don’t get me wrong. Weddings, Studio stuff, families here and there, seniors, but things really get thick during the second half of the year, and I find myself really swamped from mid-August through December 20th. That’s just my life. No weekends off, very few DAYS off. A seemingly unending stream of people ready for their closeups. Not bitching here. Bills get paid, Christmas gets purchased, I make people happy.

I started to illustrate a project, “Black Cat”, back in July, hoping to get it published before Halloween. Well, fat chance of that. I’m over halfway done with illustrations, but I still have more to do. I simply had to put it aside to do the paying work of looking through my lens. Fair enough.

And I want to get back to it. I hope to over this coming weekend, with this ice storm building up for the Midwest. It WILL be published before Halloween this year. But I felt like I needed to do some RAW work, work that didin’t involve Corel Painter, or scanners, or any of the modern tools of the trade.. Then I saw that LAMP. And I thought of my sketchpads and my pens and I thought, hey, I can do THAT.

So I started to draw. With NO PLAN whatsoever. See, when illustrating, I have a plan. It’s called THE BOOK, and I have to visually solve the problems of THE BOOK. This is just paper and a pen, no pencil because NO ERASING ALLOWED. I have to draw, and if I screw it up, I have to incorporate it into the doodle.

I must fill the page. With SOMETHING. I use either a 6×9 sketchbook or a 9×12, but no larger.

I must finish it within 24 hours, or it IS finished. Boom, it’s over, the ball drops, and onto new things.

So, this is it so far. These are my pieces. I love some of them, and think some of them are cute, and I hate PARTS of all of them, but they are here, and I brought them out with no preconceptions. Some of them are sketches for books and projects I have in the works.  Some of them are random dust bunnies of the mind.  Some of them are just fricken’ weird. But that’s ok.  They are rough and real and not slick. I like that.

And they are making me think.  I’m getting more story ideas.  When I get deeply into shooting with very few breaks and little downtime, I get TOO focused.  Hyperfocus is great for the project at hand, and crappy for big, broad ideas.  But this kind of doodling is making me get those wonderful, mind-blowing big ideas that have me constructing worlds in my head again.  I’m learning  Thank the gods.

And thank you to my lamp.  And my nest on the couch.  This doodling thing is a necessary practice, I think.  Therapeutic.

I’ll post more as I go along.  Do it yourself, post them in the comments. No-holds-barred doodling.  No mistakes.  Just marks on the paper.