Top 5

Top 5 Doodles

A doodle is a drawing made while a person’s mind is thinking about something else. Let’s take a peep at what artists’ minds get up to when they are busy planning masterpieces

1. Taking a line for a walk

Paul Klee, ‘Burdened Children’ 1930
Paul Klee
Burdened Children 1930

Artist Paul Klee said ‘a line is a dot that went for a walk’. This is often what happens with a doodle…you don’t plan to draw, your pencil just seems to wander off across the paper. This drawing is made from an almost unbroken line that makes a series of round-cornered boxes. The artist then added stick legs and eyes to make the shapes into a quirky character.

Why not have a go at taking a dot for a walk? Don’t plan your picture. Just let your pencil wander randomly. See what happens when you add eyes, arms and legs to your doodle.

2. Dabs of colour

Scottie Wilson
Trial board with a variety of paints and ink with some doodles of birds
Tate Archive
© The estate of Scottie Wilson/The Marie Levy Gift

Artist Scottie Wilson has used a page in his sketchbook to try out colours. He was probably mixing colours for a painting and wanted to see if they were the right shade.

But can you also spot, among the colourful blobs, a doodle bird and some doodle fish? Blob some colour to your doodles and check out the results.

3. The weird and wonderful

David Shrigley OBE, ‘Untitled’ 2003
David Shrigley OBE
Untitled 2003
© David Shrigley

When we doodle we aren’t really aware of what we are drawing. Doodles can sometimes be pretty strange and surreal. Look at this drawing by David Shrigley.

It’s unusual, and somehow manages to be funny and a bit disturbing at the same time. Shrigley describes the way he draws as ‘intuitive’ (which means doing something without logically thinking about it), and also says: ‘doodling would not be an entirely inaccurate description.’

What weird and wonderful pictures lie buried in your head? Try drawing without thinking too much about it and see what happens.

4. Pattern on the loose

Bernard Cohen, ‘Floris’ 1964
Bernard Cohen
Floris 1964
© Bernard Cohen

Some doodles start as a small shape and then grow, and grow and GROW. Artist Bernard Cohen used an abstract shape as his starting point and then drew around it again and again until he had a pattern of contours. Can you spot the beginning of these layered wiggly lines?

You try it. Draw a random shape. Draw a line around that shape. Then add more and more lines radiating out (like ripples in a pond). You could always use different colours for each line for an even more loopy look!

5. Graffiti doodling

Jim Dine, ‘Picabia II (Forgot)’ 1971
Jim Dine
Picabia II (Forgot) 1971
© Jim Dine

By layering marks, scribbles, jotted down words and doodly drawings, Jim Dine has created a doodle-tastic graffiti effect. By combining all these things, the doodles not only look buzzy and exciting but also seem to be saying something. What do these layered doodles suggest to you?

More to explore