I’m by nature a doodler, letting my mind wander through my hand and pen to come up with images or words that don’t always make sense– nor do they have to. Last year I was fortunate enough to get to know (and interview) author and artist Dawn DeVries Sokol. I was dazzled not only by her talents, but her seemingly endless well of creativity. Sokol’s new book Doodle Zen: Finding Creativity and Calm in a Sketchbook, comes out later this week. In honor of the new launch, Sokol shared some thoughts on Zen, doodling and a dog a day (yes. it’s a thing).
The Inspiration Behind the Book: Doodle Zen was actually an idea melded together through talks with my publisher at the time, Melanie Falick. We wanted a book that would show how doodling can be a calming, relaxing activity and in today’s world, who doesn’t need a way to de-stress?
Learning to Express Creativity: I think you have to WANT it. I know people who say they aren’t creative at all, but I can see the creativity within them. We ALL have it. It may lie within one person differently than another. Creativity can manifest itself in many forms: art, music, writing, dance, performance art…Creativity is a way of expressing oneself. So even though you think you’re not creative because you can’t draw, doesn’t mean you aren’t. Maybe you love music; learn to play an instrument. Maybe you love to write; start there! Honestly, I think that one form of creativity can evolve into others. Music influences so much of what I do as does writing, etc. Begin where you feel most comfortable. Crafting is a GREAT launching pad into creativity. Work on a craft project, such as scrapbooking, crochet, embroidery, or paper-mache. The more you practice creative pursuits, the more you will feel comfortable to expand your horizons.
On Zen and Powering Down: Zen is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation.” In the Urban Dictionary, it’s defined as “One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.”
I believe Zen is a state of clarity that can be reached through meditative types of exercises, which does include doodling.
But don’t mistake my form of doodling with ZenTangling
, which is more formulaic. With ZenTangling, one copies others’ art or uses prescribed shapes to accomplish the art. That’s not doodling. DOODLING is defined as drawing something without thinking about what you are doing; it’s a way to let your mind go and wander, which actually helps you to focus on a task at hand
. For example, studies show doodling while in a meeting or at a lecture helps the person doodling retain much more information shared at said meeting or lecture
. The act of DOODLING is much more genuine and true to letting go in the mind. As your hand wanders, so does the mind
I think doodling can be done at any moment a person wants to relax. When I started creating, I would sit with my art journal and have a movie or music playing in the background. As I doodled, I would use words or phrases out of the movie dialogue on my pages.
I would practice my lettering skills this way, outlining them in and then repeatedly doodling back over them to refine them. I’ve found by doodling, I can really tune out and find this creative zone.
When I’m experiencing a block, the one thing that works for me above all else is to doodle in my sketchbooks.
A couple of years ago, I taped an online workshop for Creativebug.com
, called “Art Journaling”, and one of the things the film crew would have me do at the end of each day: doodle. They would leave me in the studio with my fave music playing for about a half hour while I would doodle. I can tell you, each and EVERY time, even if I felt burned out and tired, I would COMPLETELY lose myself on the page and discover a new spark of energy.
And each and every time, the film crew would have to come in and stop me because my mind would wander off!
On Knowing A Drawing is Good Enough: For me, I just feel a detachment to a painting or doodle when it’s done. It’s hard to explain. I just feel like it’s finished. It wasn’t always that way for me, though. When I first started my creative journey, I really didn’t know. But over time, with practice, I’ve learned to trust my gut and know the signals. I think it’s something every artist learns along the way. Sometimes, I still may not know. When that happens, I will walk away from the piece and come back to it later. Usually, the answer will present itself then.
Thoughts on Failure:If you’re thinking of creating, but are worried what others may think or failing at it, DON’T. Creating should be just for you and there really is no such thing as failure. The only real failure with creativity is not trying at all.
A Dog a Day Challenge
: The Dog a Day challenge
was just something personal. A friend of mine I got to meet up with at a retreat in January was doing a face a day, and it inspired me to do a daily challenge. I wanted to focus on a subject I LOVE and that I would never get tired of! Dogs were it!!!
is about creating a creativity challenge for yourself. I started #ALeapOfFaithChallenge to last for 30 days and heard from a reader today asking if I’d extend it. She’s a fan of my book Ancient Prayer
and wanted to continue to think about life from a different point of view on a daily basis. Dawn DeVries Sokol uses her pens and brushes and doodles as a way of capturing a moment, sometimes unintentionally. Her Dog a Day challenge allowed her to focus on a subject she loved and would never get tired of- for her that’s dogs.
Is there something you love that you can commit to for 30 days running? It doesn’t have to be something major, maybe it’s trying a new spice every day for 30 days. Or maybe it’s walking around your block every day for 30 days before you check your phone for messages. Or maybe it involves telling 30 different people why they’re important to you and how they’ve changed your life. My social media feed is regularly filled with meme type challenges where everyone tags and repeats, but this time, it’s all about you.
Sign up for the (not exactly) daily #ALeapOfFaithChallenge reminder: