The Art of Doodling

Art Gallery

Artwork by Avinasho.

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How does one get the strange idea of scribbling on black cardboard? By letting all the ideas about creativity one has been taught, and has hoarded throughout life, gently sink to the back of one’s mind – and then forget all about them for the time being. The older we get, the more is stored there: techniques, inspirations, adventures, materials, early childhood memories of paper, pencils, and lonely days of studies in nature – or memories of an art teacher’s advice: “Go into nature, it produces more shapes, colours, light, than we ourselves can ever imagine!” How right he was! We can all benefit from a trip to the botanical garden.

In the back of my mind there are also long-forgotten tricks from a graphic designer’s training, such as: how do I bring tension into a form, how do I avoid formal boredom, where is it good to break the compositional rules and, what was that again with Kandinsky? He dealt with the subject of “Point and Line to Surface” in a book that has been sitting on my shelf for 40 years without my ever being able to bring myself to read it – but the title is always present as soon as I pick up a pen. It all remains in the right hemisphere of my brain or even further back in the universe of the unconscious… until moss has grown over it, so to speak.

Then one fine day, many years later, years which were filled with all kinds of other things, there is so little going on in my world (because of the pandemic) that the creative boredom breaks through and is reflected in completely unintentional and lightly cast coloured scribbles. Completely bypassing the cerebrum. Because it’s while watching TV, talking on the phone or compiling to-do lists, that the colourful doodles paint themselves.

Often I’m quite taken aback, because while I’m doodling, there’s always something like a nagging evaluation running along like a subtitle in the cinema. But when the time is ripe for it to be finished (you can feel it), joy, enthusiasm and gratitude come up and I have to look at it for at least another hour – and wonder how it came to me.


Avinasho (Susanne Elten) is a retired graphic designer, a writer and painter, based in Munich.

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