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February/March 2001
The Art of Scribble

Imagine yourself as a child. You are lying on the floor, crayon in hand, busily scribbling the afternoon away. Your arm makes big, sweeping florishes across the page as you create an imaginary land populated by pink trees, orange dinosaurs, and soothing purple waters. To the untrained eye, your drawing looks like nothing more than the visual equivalent of gibberish. Parent types and other such persons smile, pat you on the head, and keep walking. They chuckle to themselves; you haven't drawn anything real, but at least you are keeping quiet and out of their hair. You chuckle to yourself because you know better. Not only have you "drawn something"; you have created a whole new world out of nothing but a few bold strokes and curlicues.

Somewhere along the way, you lost your penchant for curlicues. You decided that the goal of drawing was to draw something real. You stopped drawing for yourself and began drawing for other people. Pretty soon, you probably stopped drawing altogether. You convinced yourself that there is no artistic value in an imaginary pink tree.

Oh, how wrong you are.

Over the past couple of months, I have been practicing what I call scribble art. I simply grab the nearest medium, scrawl all over some paper, and then set the paper aside. Hours and sometimes days pass before I pick it up again. I look at the swirls with fresh eyes, and suddenly I see images of genies, rabbits, and Japanese ponds. Sometimes, I add a few additional strokes to the picture in order to bring out the shape that I see. But, more often than not, I just leave it. The picture's potential is part of its beauty.


Some Tips:

  • For scribble work, it is sometimes best to have music playing in the background. The type and tempo of the music will be reflected in your drawing. Most of the examples shown here were influenced by Music From the Tea Lands, a Putamayo compilation. I also have a Best of James Bond CD. The theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service is another of my inspirational favorites. This is a time to let loose and have fun, so choose whatever music energizes you.
  • Scribbling is one art form where it may be best to work with larger areas. I used 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper, which is large for me. You want to have enough space to feel uninhibited. You don't want to think; you just want to move your hand across the page.
  • Different media produce different results. Watercolors work best for me. If you work with these, you can change the brush shape and size for various effects. I also like to use Pentel Color Brush markers. Experiment with these, colored pencils, ballpoint pens - anything you have at hand.
  • If you are using watercolors or ink, you can use a drinking straw to blow color across the page. This can add some interesting accent points with contrasting colors.
  • There is no wrong way to scribble. This art is just for you. If you are the only one who can see the giant green bunny or the leaping lady on the page, all the better.
Green Bunny

Green Bunny

After I made the initial marks on the page, I saw the shape of a bunny forming through the green strokes. I let the paint dry and then painted over certain lines in order to emphasize them and create the suggestion of a rabbit. I used a much smaller brush to make the whiskers, then added a pink nose.



This one really has no rhyme or reason. It was kind of a stretch to see the genie in the picture, so I outlined a shape with a hot pink brush marker and added a little lamp at the bottom.

Girl with Her Hair Blowing in the Wind

Girl With Her Hair Blowing in the Wind

This one was done with a colored pencil. I really like it. I can easily envision a girl caught on a windy day in a big gust of wind with her hair flying everywhere. The only thing I did to the original scribble was to go over the "mouth" area.



I decided to enhance this picture to add a pond and some flowers. I am sure that this "plant life" is botanically incorrect.

Black ScribbleBlack Scribble

Once you get started with scribble art, it becomes addictive. If you feel silly at first or have problems letting go of your creative inhibitions, find the nearest small child and ask him or her to help you. Scribbling is fun (I promise!) and most of these pictures won't take up more than five minutes of your time. They come in handy, too. When you are in a mood in which it seems that writing out actual words is too much effort, you can simply scribble something that conveys the emotions of the day. The most important thing is that you use your imagination. You are training your mind to see possibilities. Possibility is what creativity is all about.

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© 2001 Dawn R. Vinson. All Rights Reserved.