Throughout 2017, I consistently felt called to play more. I was taking life too seriously and neglecting my playful side. Furthermore, I believe, and studies show that we, humans and animals, learn through playing and that play is necessary for existence. My artist friend, blogger, and twitch content creator, wrote an elightening post on her dartily.com blog about the science behind play, which you can read here.
I began to wonder how I could introduce play into my own artwork, and how I could invite others to join in the fun. When I first dreamed up this project, I thought of it as a research project, but that sounded like an awful lot of work. So instead, I am simply trying to observe play from the experts, children and am trying to remember how I played as a child. I will be sharing my observations in blog posts periodically and offer an invitation to a playful challenge.
Today's observation is doodling. What happens when you cover your table with white butcher paper and allow yourself to fill in the space? There are no limits, no parameters. You let your self-conscious dictate the content. The mindless process of scratching repetitive lines or spirals are soothing. There is no need for composition or meaning. It's just play. Overtime, the butcher paper becomes littered with layers of doodles in all kinds of media: pencil, marker, and pen. Characters emerge from hash marks, whole landscapes exist next to math problems, fragmented words become become incidental poems, and someone figures out how to make a rubbing of the table top protector.
These doodles become the backdrop of the "real" work that his happening on top. Pig faces stare back at you as you work, and when your mind wanders, you can draw a meaningless geometric shape in some blank corner. You find time to play among all of the work, and maybe that creative discharge leads to the next idea or is a sufficient break from the concentrated thinking.
I'm so impressed and inspired by my kids' doodles, which are pictured below. I think those restaurants that allow patrons to draw on their papered tables or on their walls are smart for disarming the diners. Put a pencil in your hand, let your mind wander as it did in the margins of your history notebook, and see what comes out. If you do, let me know what happened! Happy doodling!
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.