The marks you are drawn to in doodling, Zentangle, making patterns, or other types of meditative mark-making can become part of your style, even if you don’t exactly doodle while painting. Each of us has certain shapes we like to make, and this is often reflected in our brush-handling and drawing style. You can choose to play up some of these favorite shapes, or just allow yourself to explore how you might use them to suggest various objects or textures.
Repetitive mark-making is also very relaxing! Not everything we do in our art-making has to be about “becoming better painters”. We can just enjoy making marks and patterns. It must be hard-wired into us. Just look at all the functional items that humans decorate with patterns: pottery, knitting, weaving, tile and stonework.
What sort of marks do you make when you are just doodling? Do you do any creative work that emphasizes pattern-making?
What sorts of patterns do you make because you like how they look?
What sorts of marks does your hand just seem to enjoy making? How do these marks change when you change tools or media, from say, pen or pencil, to brush, to perhaps other creative activities you pursue such as quilting, knitting, pottery and so on?
Do you ever use these patterns as design elements in your artwork, or to suggest textures or form?
Do you ever purposely echo the patterns from one medium in another?
Today, pick a mark-making tool (or several), and explore the types of marks your hand seems to enjoy making with that tool (in other words, doodle).
What types of shapes and marks does this tool seem to encourage? How can you use them in your art work?
If you feel like you need inspiration, or want to expand your repertoire of marks, try “directed doodles”: pick a small bit of a shape you see in the world around you, and make that same little shape repeatedly, using it to develop a pattern. Or pick several shapes to weave together into an overall pattern.
Or, try successive simplification of a natural shape: start with a natural shape such as a leaf. Then simplify it. Build a pattern based on this simplified shape, perhaps with some variations in size, orientation or shape.
Or, try out a meditative mark-making system, such as ZenTangle, mandalas, neurographic art, sacred geometry, or the various methods of hatching taught in books about drawing.