For as long as I can remember, through all of school and in every job, I have doodled. If there is paper and pen available then I am probably using them to draw swirls, faces, hands, birds,or a tangle of them all. Some teachers and bosses have been more understanding about it than others, but these days there is enough research on the benefits of doodling that defending the practice is fairly simple. My retention of information is generally very good as is my work ethic. Doodling does not appear to have any adverse effect on my reporting duties.
The only problem has been not paying enough attention to what surface is getting marked on, but as I have gotten older I have mainly overcome that. There is no longer much risk that I will accidentally mark up a library book, a final draft of a paper, or a contract as there might have been years ago. I have not drawn on either of my last two cars and it has been several years since I caught myself drawing a swirl on my daughter’s physical form before we turned it in so she could play sports. I have completely stopped doodling in church, but I still draw a lot at work.
My current job involves a fair amount of waiting on databases and applications to do their thing before I can do mine. The best way I’ve found to fill that time is to add a few swirls to whatever piece of paper is close by. Some are very boring, many are too repetitive (endless variations on a theme that has been pretty thoroughly explored), but some are interesting and become sketches for full grown paintings. They have been more about the process of creating them than the finished product, but still I have the problem of folders full of scraps of paper that I cannot bear to throw away.
A couple months ago on a whim I took a doodle that had grown to cover an entire piece of 8.5×11 copy paper and put it into a recently emptied frame. It was sitting against the wall of my room when my father came to visit and he mentioned to me that he liked it and that I should consider including it in my upcoming show. Even though at the time I was not planning to include drawings in the show I thought he might be right. It definitely fit thematically with the rest of the work even if the medium was different. I decided I should include a few more drawings so that it would not stick out as too unlike the others. My evenings and weekends were pretty full of trying to get my paintings finished so I decided that I should experiment with letting my work time doodling be with a bit more purpose.
I brought a piece of the watercolor paper I take on my plein air waterfall hikes with me to work. I slid it under my keyboard and then let nature take its course. Instead of doodling on the edge of reports or in my notebook I just added to the drawing. It grew organically just like a doodle would over the course of the work week. I had to be careful to use the same pen every time and on a couple of occasions when the drawing was going too well I had to move it across the room so it did not prevent me from doing the job at hand. Overall it has been a great way to banish boredom from the basement of the bank and create frame worthy images. By the time of the Nth Gallery show I had four new pen and ink drawings to include and 2 of them (and the doodle that inspired the project) sold!
The others and a new one I have just finished are available for purchase.