Sunday, June 7, 2009

Doodle: An On-the-Spur-of-the-Moment Art


Doodles by Joachim Romeo D'Costa (Toronto: May, 2009)

Doodles by seven-year-old Shouvik Mikhail D'Costa
(Toronto: 1998)

Everyone -- when a crayon, pencil or pen in hand -- doodled in his or her life sometime or the other. In childhood, every child doodles. It's the way for him or her to learn writing or drawing.

Later in life, we doodle for other reasons. Our doodles get their way on scraps or sheets of paper; margins of paper, book or utility bills; notebooks; post-it pads and the like. Doodling becomes a kind of release mechanism for us.

What is a doodle?

Doodle is a kind of drawing that is done on the spur-of-the-moment. It is an unplanned and unconscious sketching on paper. It grows as the drawing progresses. It starts mostly when one is busy doing something else -- talking on the phone, listening to music or radio, watching TV from time to time, and attending a meeting or conference -- or even a class -- but feeling bored.

Types of doodles

A doodle can be in the form of simple or ornate writing -- a kind of calligraphy -- or in the form of drawing a picture (of a person, animal, scenery or inanimate object).


A person who doodles is a doodler. A doodler can be young or old, male or female, literate or illiterate, rich or poor, person of colour or non-colour, religious or irreligious, and a person of virtue or non-virtue.

Meaning of a doodle

Although done unconsciously or half-consciously, a doodle may be the result of what went through a person's mind previously.

Some people try to find a meaning in or interpret a doodle. According to them, if the doodle is one on the right side of a page, it means the doodler is eager to reveal what he or she has in mind. If a person doodles on the left side, it means the doodler likes the past. If a person doodles at the centre of a page, he or she is kind of aloof -- he or she feels comfortable being alone, away from others.

Psychologists and clinicians try to understand the state of mind of the doodler by studying shapes and symbols drawn by him or her. If a doodler draws a tree, it signifies life or growth. If a house is drawn, the doodler loves a steady shelter and the security that comes with it. Vehicles (trains, motor vehicles, animal-drawn carriages, airplanes, boats and the like) signify a desire for travel or change in life. Sun means light and warmth. Geometric shapes (squares, triangles, circles, rectangular shapes, pentagon, octagon etc.) signify an analytical and logical mind.

Celebrity doodles

Ordinary doodles of celebrities in time becomes extraordinary. Doodles by celebrities always draw wide attention and curiosity.

A good number of U.S. Presidents, including John F. Kennedy, were famous for their doodles. Most recently, Barack Obama, the democratic candidate for U.S. presidency, drew worldwide attention for his doodles in 2008.

(Above) U.S. President Ronald Reagan's doodle

U.S. President John F. Kennedy's doodle

The above two presidential doodles courtesy: The Atlantic Monthly

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