Embrace non-perfection: accordion sketchbook and doodling for creativity and good health

December 07, 2022

I love my sketchbooks.  Filling them with ideas, notes and designs allows me to work out ideas toward finished paintings.  But sometimes it is nice to have access to something that feel even more informal.  This week I made a "doodle sketchbook" just for messing about in.  I used a few larger sheets of drawing paper cut horizontally then folded accordion-style and glued into cardboard covers (cut down backs from empty WC paper pads).  My first page gives the advice of "Be brave enough to suck" reminding me to let go and just play.  For the first few pages I chose the super vague prompt of Circles.  Picking up the easiest materials at hand (ballpoint pens can be fun!) with no end goal in mind.  Some pages were repetitive shapes, overlapping, adding color as I wanted.  Some pages followed with loose sketches of the same theme from the garden or house.

More and more research is showing that making art (any art) benefits your physical and mental health at any time, but it is especially important during times of extended stress.  The research finds that creating art (even casual art) uses a different part of the brain than the side we use for day to day stress.  Making art allows our brains to "re-boot" and in the process make us heathier and stronger.  With this in mind I would like to post occational creativity prompts in this blog, encouraging all of us to sit back and creatively play.

Anything that catches your fancy can be a creativity prompt.  A simple example is circles.  Drawing and painting circles can be as meditative as mindlessly making circles over and over (super relaxing in watercolors - add shading and you have spheres!), I know it doesn't sound exciting but it can be more challenging to get a round shape than you expect, and in the process your brain is focused on circles and not much else!  If you want to move on using the same prompt go looking for circles in your surroundings: glassware, dishes, flower seed pods, the possibilities are endless. Sometimes multiple bages or even a whole mini-sketchbook can be filled with the same theme. There are no rules, just messing about with art.  But remember the goal is the experiment and play, no judging allowed.  A really easy way to start is to put pen (don't be afraid to commit yourself - remember it is just play) to paper and then don't lift it, just keep adding lines, shapes, patterns whatever you feel like at the moment.  Try not to have a preconceived idea. Do your marks fill the page? Do they make a border? Let the line lead you as much as you lead the pen and then see where it leads your artistic soul.

Happy doodling!