I find doodling to be a creative outlet. When I doodle, I am drawing in an unfocused way with my attention occupied on other things. My doodles can be uncomplicated drawings with some meaning, they may be brainstorming, quickie designs for jewelry or paintings, or they may just be abstract or curly shapes. People like to doodle silly cartoons of people they know, famous comic book characters, made-up imaginary beings, geometric shapes, landscapes and flowers, textures and wandering patterns.
Growing up, I was called a daydreamer by my teachers; I used to doodle in my school notebooks and even the margins of my textbooks, mostly because I was not interested in class. To this day I doodle when I’m on long telephone conversations and when I’m in seminars.
I also keep journals and doodle in them. Then I go back in with acrylics or watercolors and paint them, which is a fun way to get myself to re-read my notes. Doodles can be a source of ideas for later drawings and paintings, so I keep a chunky file of doodles I’ve done that I liked, torn out of old notebooks or from other pages of notes and doodles.
Sketching with paint is a wonderful skill to learn for starting a painting or as an actual technique for painting an entire picture. Sketching with paint is a form of painting loosely, just as sketching with pencils and charcoal is a loose form of drawing, only you’re sketching with a brush.
The beauty of sketching with paint is that it is a quick way to lay in a painting without being concerned about any details. For example, if you are painting a figure from a model or reference photo, you would sketch the motion (gesture) of the body and not attempt to do any details such as fingers and toes, or faces. Instead you would just be hinting at them. When sketching with a brush, you are recording visual information swiftly. The sketching with a brush may be done with a variety of stiff brushes (not watercolor brushes).
You can use one color of paint, such as burnt sienna, that has been thinned down to begin a painting and get your basic shapes down first, and then come in sketching with thicker paint to start laying in thicker colors. You can also establish where the light is coming from, sketching in your light and shadow areas with your brush. You can also do small sketches with paint before beginning a larger painting, such as the great sketch above in oils by artist Greg Dechow for a commission he’s working on.