DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2012/02/12

Dancing/Drawing Performance

Kayoko Nakajima and Carly Czach, dancing Contact Improvisation, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

On Saturday, February 18, I was drawing as part of this performance by one of my longtime collaborators, Kayoko Nakajima.  Kayoko is a dancer and a deep student of the anatomy of movement.  Here are all the details:

 “ARt Seeds to ARt Sprouts Project 2012”

Concept: Kayoko Nakajima

Improvisational/Contact Improvisational Dance: Kayoko Nakajima, Carly Czach
Improvising Drawing: Fred Hatt, Michael Imlay,Ivana Basic, Jennifer Giuglianotti
Costume: Aya Shibaraha
Video: Charles Dennis
February 18, Sat. 2012
7:30pm
Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance
558 Fulton Street, 2nd Floor (near Flatbush Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
This performance was a part of NYFA Bootstrap Festival 2012 A Celebration of Movement and Interdisciplinary Art
featuring Nicola Iervasi, Artistic Director, Mare Nostrum Elements, Kayoko Nakajima with Carly Czach, and Clark Jackson.

2011/08/22

Curiosity as Cure

Filed under: Abstract Art,Art and Philosophy — Tags: , , , , — fred @ 15:29

Sound Suit, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Sometimes there’s something I’d like to write about, but I don’t have good visuals to accompany it.  And sometimes I have images I’d like to share, but can’t think of much to say about them.  I’ve always considered the combination of words and pictures to be the essence of Drawing Life as a blog.  Here I’m going to talk about some ideas that are close to the heart of my artist’s philosophy, my intuitive sense of the moment we humans find ourselves in.  I’ll intersperse these ideas with some of my recent doodles.  There’s no direct correspondence between the pictures and the words, except of course that doodling is what I often do while listening to someone drone on and on, and if I’m going to drone on in text, I may as well break up the words with some of my wiggly, loopy lines.

Multitask, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

In 1999-2000, the American Museum of Natural History in New York hosted a temporary exhibit called “Body Art:  Marks of Identity”.  It was a survey of tattooing, piercing, scarification, body painting and other kinds of body modification across many cultures and through history.  My friend Matty Jankowski, a tattoo artist and a collector and scholar of materials and artifacts related to the history of body arts, was one of the consultants to the curators of the exhibit.  Thanks to Matty, a few of my own body painting images were included in a portion of the show devoted to contemporary body art.

Herald Angel, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Matty also worked with the education department of the museum to present some special programs.  One day there was a kind of open house for the public to learn about body art from artists.  There was a henna artist, a tattooist, a piercer, and I was there as a body painter.  There was a slide show, and all of the artists gave brief presentations on their particular crafts.  People attending the workshop were given the opportunity to try out an electric tattoo needle on a honeydew melon.  The henna artist and I had our materials on hand to give temporary body art to anyone who wanted it.

Bug & Oak, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

There were a lot of parents with young kids at the event, and many of them formed an orderly queue at my body painting table.  Most of my previous experience of body painting was with adults, in my own studio or in art galleries or performance settings, but that day I had a long line of little kids, with their parents, waiting their turn.  As I was painting, I heard the parents talking to their kids:  “What do you want?  Just think about what you want and tell the man what you want?  You can get whatever you want.  Do you want a butterfly?  Do you want a dragon?  Decide what you want and the man will paint it for you.”  Kids were presenting their tiny arms and asking me to paint Furbys or Pokemon characters I’d never seen before.  A small minority, maybe one in ten, would show some curiosity, would ask questions about my paints or my experiences painting people, or would say, “Just paint whatever comes to you,” or “Go wild.”

Cornucopia, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Listening to the endless litany of “What do you want?”, I realized that indoctrination into the consumer mindset wasn’t just accomplished through TV commercials and mass marketing campaigns bankrolled by multinational megacorporations.  Parents were actively programming their kids to the idea that everything was about consumer choice and acquisition, about defining desires and having those desires satisfied.  Even such an odd experience as having a strange artist paint on your arm or hand or cheek was reduced to choosing a brand and displaying it.

Sole & Canopy, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Recall that the name of the exhibit was “Body Art:  Marks of Identity.”  The thesis of the curators was that body art was used to mark its wearer as a member of a tribe, to indicate a special cultural role such as warrior or bride.  These children, under the relentless prodding of their parents, were engaging in the modern form of this practice, something the commercial world calls “branding”.  (Of course the term derives from the practice of searing a mark of ownership into the hide of a livestock animal.)  We are encouraged to define ourselves by our choice of symbols, corporate logos, or popular culture.  It is no longer so much about our role in society, but about our status as consumers.

Cretan Goddess, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

The curious minority in my body painting queue hadn’t been steered to see every opportunity as a consumer choice or a branding of their identity.  They saw this as a chance to experience something fresh, to learn something new.

Coral, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

The consumer mindset says “The one who dies with the most toys wins.”  It’s a zero-sum game, a world of winners and losers.  The curious mindset says “We live in a world of inexhaustible wonders.  What will I experience today?”  It is a world of free play, a world of abundance for all.  It is not a zero-sum game because it’s oriented towards experience, not ownership.  One who collects experiences does not deny them to others.

Bicycle, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

We humans are now in the early stages of a great crisis.  The industrial revolution of the past three centuries has allowed the human population to increase tenfold (it has more than doubled just in my lifetime), and has provided to the common person comforts and luxuries once reserved for kings, even luxuries unimagined by kings.  All of this was made possible by fossil fuels – hundreds of millions of years worth of stored energy expended in an explosive orgy – and by an economic system in which constant increase is the only definition of wealth.  For a few centuries it worked, because there were always new natural resources to be discovered, always undeveloped places to develop and unexploited markets to expand into.

Beatrice, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Alas, we are now coming to that inevitable point where the exponential growth curve must become a bell curve, leveling off and sloping back down, if we are to survive.  The earth itself is beginning to assert its limits, to push back against unchecked growth.  Climate change and resource depletion are becoming costly problems that cannot be solved by ever more spending and extraction and ever more complicated technology.  Our economic system, based on lending at interest, needs constant growth, but facing the slowing of real expansion, it is now just blowing bubbles.  The owners of great wealth are trying to hold onto what they have by no longer sharing their bounty with the masses, but this strategy may ultimately fail too, as wealth defined as growth evaporates when growth stops.

Pipe Organ, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Everyone is in denial now, imagining that there is something that will make the material economy grow again.  But we don’t need more growth.  Human population increase needs to slow down.  Expansion in the per capita consumption of energy and natural resources needs to slow down and even begin to contract.  From the standpoint of the capitalist economy, the slowdown of growth is a dire crisis and even a disaster.  From the standpoint of planetary health, the slowdown of growth is an essential correction.

Eye Pop & Face Slap, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

A child’s body grows by leaps and bounds, but when maturity is reached, physical growth slows and stops.  Getting bigger is for childhood, but in adulthood it gives way to spiritual and mental development.  Wisdom, skill and knowledge, the immaterial aspects of the living being, can expand for a lifetime.  Unchecked growth of the organs and tissues in an adult is cancer.

Merkin Raygun, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

There is now widespread agreement that we need to find “sustainable” technologies and ways of life.  Many still seem reluctant to see that a sustainable economy must be a steady-state economy, not one based on constant growth, at least not as regards population and conversion of raw materials into stuff and stuff into trash.

Insect, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

The consumer/industrial economy says profits must get ever bigger.  Every generation must have more material wealth than the one before.  Our stores have become superstores, our houses mansions, our cars trucks, and our bodies obese.

Spaghetti Structure, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Marketing propaganda is so pervasive in our culture that we internalize it.  We base our sense of identity on our consumer choices, and raise our children to be good consumers above all.

Winehouse, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Our highest value is choice.  We associate choice with democracy and the modern way of life.  We have so many choices now we may feel paralyzed by indecision.  Constantly making choices gives us a limited kind of freedom, but it is constrained by the options that are offered to us:  Democrat or Republican, Wal-Mart or Target, paper or plastic.   The more we are focused on these choices the more we can be prevented from imagining what other possibilities are not being put before us.  The more we define ourselves by choices the more we box ourselves into categories the marketers can exploit.

Nutcracker, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

The curious mind is always wide open, finding interest and beauty in whatever it encounters.  It is always engaged with the unknown, asking questions, speculating, wondering.  The curious mind moves through the world on an exploratory path, following beauty and seeking knowledge.  The curious mind tries to maximize flexibility and avoid being boxed in.

Fruit Tree, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Our civilization faces a difficult period as natural limits awaken us from our dream of opulent consumption.  There will be a period of denial, recrimination, rage.  Those of us who have devoted our lives to curiosity and creativity already know there are pleasures deeper and more satisfying than those offered by consumerism.

Secret Language, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Even as we are forced to cut back, to use less energy and less materials, even as extravagant materialism slips out of the grasp of most people, opportunities for learning and experience will remain abundant.  Creative minds that can ask penetrating questions and imagine fresh solutions will be needed by all.  Curiosity and creativity will see us through stormy times.

 

Stealth, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

The doodles that illustrate this post were all made in the last few months.  All are made with Tombow brush markers on letter-sized printer paper.

 

2011/07/19

Dramatis Personæ

Bow, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Actor and writer Susan Merson invited me to make sketches at some of the sessions of New York Theatre Intensives, a six-week play development workshop and training program associated with New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre.  Susan likes to get visual artists to respond in their own medium to the creative process of the actors, directors and writers.  The work is shared with the participants and may be used on the organization’s website and/or public presentations.

I attended two sessions there.  The first one was an acting workshop led by Janet Zarish.  I sat at the side of the room and sketched in white crayon on a 9″ x 12″ black pad.  The class began with warm-up exercises, including spine rolls, the game of tag, and slow-motion tag.  Since I’ve done a lot of movement drawing, this part of the class was a natural for me.

Tag, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Following the movement exercises, the acting students stood listening to the instructor.  Their postures show their energetic engagement.

Listen, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Next, various pairs of acting students performed their versions of little playlets.  The acting duos had been given a page or two of bare dialog, and they had to invent a context and back story and work it up into a scene.  They’d play the scene two or three times, with coaching and notes from the acting instructor.  I tried to make simplified personality sketches, essentially caricatures, of the actors playing their parts.  Fleeting expressions and attitudes are hard to catch in a drawing from life!

Copier, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In most of these, I tried to get more than one expression or position for at least one of the characters.  Without knowing the content of the scenes, you can see these as multiple-figure compositions.  Some kind of narrative content is implied in the drawings, but they’re highly ambiguous.  I don’t think anyone could guess much about the actors’ scenes from these sketches, but maybe the sketches could be imagination stimuli.  For instance, I could see the central figures in the one below as a couple’s public composure, while the faces on the edges represent hidden attitudes.

AA Meeting, 2011, by Fred Hatt

This exercise only increased my admiration for the great theatrical illustrator Al Hirschfeld, who spent eight decades at Broadway openings, sketching in a theater seat, and stylizing his impressions of the actors as elegant ink drawings that appeared alongside reviews in the New York Times.  Drawing actors in action is not easy, and I feel my attempts were pretty rough.

Afterlife, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The three sketches above are based on three acting duos’ interpretations of the same playlet, an encounter between two characters with diverging views of their relationship.  I’ve titled the sketches after context choices made by the actors.

The next three sketches are three different interpretations of a second playlet.  This one centers around one character trying to collect a long-overdue debt from the other character.  It was fascinating to observe how different choices and different actors’ personæ completely changed the feeling of the scene.

Hot Dog Park, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Naked Under Hoodie, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The actress below conveyed a particularly vivid sense of awkward nervousness toward her impassive debtor.

Wordvomit, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The acting class instructor, Janet Zarish, threw a lot of ideas at the actors, offering suggestions and modifications aimed at sharpening the characters and punching up the drama.  I was struck by her many crisp, incisive gestures.  I think they reflect her focus on performative clarity.

Instructor, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I sat in on another New York Theatre Intensives session, and will get to those sketches later in this post, but first, a sketch theater entr’acte.  American Independence Day, the fourth of July, fell between the two NYTI classes I attended.  Spring Studio, where I supervise one of the regular figure drawing sessions, hosted a July 4 special with models costumed as historical American characters, including a Revolutionary War era soldier, Buffalo Bill, Harriet Tubman, Pocahontas and Betsy Ross.  These sketches are in marker or pencil on white paper, 18″ x 24″, and all are based on poses held between two minutes and ten minutes.

American History Figures, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Noble Faces, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The models for this session were all what I would describe as character models.  Like character actors, they have distinctive faces, body types and ways of moving and looking that would stimulate the narrative imagination even without the costumes and props.  It’s impossible to draw these models in a generic way, because all of them are so distinctive.

Caretaker, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Small and Tall, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Barricade, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Later that week I went to a “rep class” session, led by Rod Menzies, at New York Theatre Intensives.  The actors did readings of new scenes by playwrights Crystal Skillman and Jason Holtham, with the playwrights present.  I believe part of the function of the session was for the writers to see how their work in progress was understood by the actors, and how it worked in front of an audience.  These drawings are 18″ x 24″ on white paper, in crayon and/or ink and brush.  Here’s the scene in the studio, with the instructor and playwright sitting at the left.

Studio Reading, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Crystal Skillman’s scene was for two actors, and a little longer than the playlets from the acting class, which gave me a better opportunity to study the actors.  The experience was a bit like what I imagine a courtroom artist does.

A Look, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Here’s my impression of the discussion, with the class instructor and the playwright at the left, and some of the students in discussion at the right.  They really did overlap like that, from my viewing position.  I chose to make them transparent.

Watching and Discussing, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Although the actors sitting to read stayed more still than they did in the acting class, where they had memorized their lines, it’s still hard to draw a reading, because the actors have their heads and eyes down at their scripts much of the time, and their facial expressions and energetic engagements with one another tend to be fleeting.  This remained so even after instructor Rod Menzies urged the actors to engage with each other even at the cost of missing lines in the scripts.

Cold Reading, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Model U. N., 2011, by Fred Hatt

Jason Holtham’s scene was about high school students at a Model United Nations simulation conference.  All the characters were named after the nations they were representing in the conference, which allowed the scene to be read on two levels.

Playwright, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I switched to ink and brush for a few sketches.  The brushed ink line is more expressive than the crayon line, but also much more difficult to control.

Characters, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The directions of eyes and eyebrows, and the set of the mouth, are the most immediately readable indicators of emotion and relational role, at least among those that can be captured in a quick sketch that lacks the sound of the voice, the movement of the body, and the narrative developments of the script.

Reactions, 2011, by Fred Hatt

For me, the experience of sketching at these theater classes drew on my long-term practice of drawing from movement.  I’m used to sketching from dance, with the attention given to large physical movement.  The actors didn’t move so much – most of the interesting changes going on were subtle facial cues.  In drawing faces, I’m accustomed to doing portraits, where I can take my time to study the structure and character of a face.  Trying to apply the quick-response, gestural interpretation of movement to facial expressions was a challenge I definitely haven’t yet mastered, but I love to keep finding fresh challenges!

I’d be interested to hear from actors or other participants in the classes about what you see in my sketches, and whether they reveal anything to you that you might not get by looking at a still photo or video of the classes.  Please feel free to comment here, and I’ll respond.  (Comments from first-time commenters are held for moderation, so may take a day or so to appear on the blog.)

 

2011/04/28

Rest and Motion

Sultan and Odalisque, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I like to mix it up, combine drawing with physical movement, and try to capture the feeling of movement with my lines.  Valerie Green’s Green Space Studio in the Long Island City section of Queens hosts a monthly event called “Cross Pollination“, where the studio is opened up for artists, musicians and movers to do their own thing, do one of the other things, and generally draw inspiration and energy from each other.  All the drawings in this post were made at that event.

When I first started posting “Cross Pollination” drawings on the blog, I just titled them with numbers.  They were, after all, just fragments of an ongoing practice, little bits of my own restless variations on the theme, passing moments in the ebb and flow of energy at the actual event.  In later posts, it occurred to me that giving these spontaneous sketches titles might make them more interesting, might make people look at them a little differently, or at least notice how remarkably different one piece was from another.  When a piece of drawing is pretty abstract, the mind, which is oriented to clear imagery and narrative understanding, has a hard time getting to grips with it.  A title gives just a smidgen of narrative or description or association, but it makes a difference in our ability to see what’s in the drawing.  Generally, the titles I have bestowed on these drawings have nothing to do with what I was thinking at the time the drawings were made.  They are phrases that came to me when looking at the drawings later.

The picture at the top of this post, for instance, could be seen as a pure abstraction of squiggly and curvy lines.  But the drawing was inspired by watching dancers in motion, so the lines can be seen as human figures.  The figure on the left seems to be furiously dancing with a sword in swirly robes, while the figure to the right displays curvaceous feminine charms.  So why not evoke orientalist fantasies?

Attitudes, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I try to keep a very loose and responsive hand on the brush, feeling contact with the paper through the delicate tension of the bending bristles, and letting the movement of the hand and brush, and the flowing of the ink, capture the variety of stances and qualities of energy projected by the dancers in the room.

Striped Shirt, 2011, by Fred Hatt

All the figures in the drawing above were made while observing Valerie, Green Studio’s proprietor and director.  Her striped shirt and voluminous ponytail are unifying patterns.

The Oblivious Crowd, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The sketch above could easily be read as pure abstraction, but you can see that there are three figures along the bottom, sitting on the ground at the right, crawling at center, and walking hunched over at the left.  Around those figures you can see several taller figures, more energetic, more blurred.  I don’t recall the scenes I was observing while drawing this, but looking at it now I see the lower figures as the tortured movement of a defeated or injured person, while the other figures represent the people that rush past, paying no attention.  It’s a scene you can see nearly any day on the streets of New York.

Sleeping Mountains, 2011, by Fred Hatt

When the dancers are cooling down, they’re a lot easier to draw than when they’re leaping about.  Sometimes, as in the above sketch, I see them as the contours of a landscape.  The one below is much more of a literal figure drawing, a study of dancers’ stretches.

Hang Out and Warm Up, 2011, by Fred Hatt

At other times, as in the drawing below, I forget about representation and just get into the movement of the hand over the paper.  This is treating drawing as dance, an art in motion.  As this piece developed, certain parts of it suggested images to me, watery and sleek and sexual.  That influenced me to bring out those aspects, but I was also trying to keep everything ambiguous, to keep the images from taking over from the energy.

Billowing Shroud, 2011, by Fred Hatt

When the dancers get going, there’s no way to draw the body in the ways we learn in life drawing practice, carefully tracking contours and analyzing weight and observing the angular relationships between points.  But sometimes I try to see how efficiently the calligraphic manipulation of the brush can suggest the momentary bodies I capture in memory.  Some of the figures in the drawing below remind me of the shapes you see when watching a fire, shapes that often resemble dancers and leapers and writhers.

Fire Sprites, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In the drawing below, two standing figures at the center demonstrate attitudes of power and confidence, while figures around them show ways of bodily experiencing our connection to the Earth.

Grounding and Standing Tall, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Here’s a rough sketch of the studio, with an artist sketching in a notebook at left and a flutist playing at right.

The Scene at Green Space, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Here are more down-to-the-ground figures, squatting, crouching, scuttling, or lying on the back letting the limbs strive upwards.

Down on the Floor, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The next drawing was the last one of a session, and it seems to show the dancers solidified into various sculptural attitudes, stony remnants of life.

After the Storm, 2011, by Fred Hatt

All of these drawings are on 18″ x 24″ paper.  Most are drawn with ink and brush, but the sixth, seventh, and tenth drawings were made with marker.

Previous posts featuring drawings made at Cross Pollination events at Green Space Studio: 

Forces in Black and White

Dancing Brush

Cross Pollination at Green Space

2011/03/22

Serious Doodling

Filed under: Abstract Art — Tags: , , , , — fred @ 22:03

Talisman, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

This is a defense of the practice of doodling.  Doodling has a reputation for being aimless, mindless, pointless and devoid of artistic merit.  As I am an incorrigible doodler, I might be seen as defending my own bad habits, although I would never write in defense of gluttony, bibulousness, lechery, or sloth, to all of which I would be obliged to cop, so clearly I am at least granting doodling an exalted tier among the vices.

Loops & Growers, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

The word apparently derives from the German dudeln, meaning to play the bagpipes.  The form dudelkopf was used to mean fool or idiot, and could I think be literally interpreted as “bagpipe-head”, perhaps an early form of our contemporary idiom “airhead”.  “Yankee doodle” was originally the British way of saying “American idiot”.  Doodle in this sense is probably the source of the word “dude“.  Even meaning idiot, the word seems to carry some subtle aura of transcendence.  Spoken with a certain intonation, the word “dude” is an expression of awe, and the indelible character of The Dude in The Big Lebowski has some of the same blessed qualities of the holy fool as Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.   “The Dude abides.”

Ship, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Pictorial marginalia and abstract designs made while other parts of the mind are otherwise engaged have probably always been a part of the human behavioral repertory, but the verb “to doodle” in its contemporary meaning may originate in the 1936 Frank Capra movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, staring Gary Cooper.  The screenplay is written by Robert Riskin in snappy American vernacular poetry.  In the film, Mr. Deeds defines doodling as an activity that facilitates thinking.

Incantation, 2010, doodle by Fred Hatt

When I was in high school the instruction usually seemed to be paced for the slowest students in the class, and I doodled because the activity soothed my boredom and frustration.  I went to a good university where the level and speed of the ideas being presented was considerably higher, enough to keep even my quicksilver mind thoroughly engaged, but by that time my habit of doodling in class was set, and so I generally doodled rather than, or in addition to, taking notes.  This habit did no apparent harm to my learning; in fact, I believe it enhanced it.

Predicament, 2010, doodle by Fred Hatt

New research backs up this conclusion.  Doodling seems to improve recall and help keep the mind focused.  I tend to doodle while doing things that involve sustained listening with minimal visual or kinesthetic involvement: long phone calls, for instance, or listening to “This American Life” on the radio.  Doodling isn’t the only activity that works this way.  Some people like knitting or whittling.  For me, distance driving is a nearly perfect accompaniment to listening.  But doodling adds a creative element that is more satisfying.  It engages the part of the mind that wants to move and see, while not distracting the part of the mind that listens, understands, and cogitates.

Terse, 2010, doodle by Fred Hatt

Texting and web-surfing are genuinely distracting, because they engage not the visual and kinesthetic mind, but the verbal and discursive mind, the part that needs to be kept present during a lecture or meeting or conversation.  Having done both, I can attest that doodling helps focus while Googling dissipates focus.  I think the transition from paper notebooks to electronic notebooks in the classroom is bound to diminish the school experience.

Splat, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Last year I saw a retrospective exhibit of Charles E. Burchfield, a painter close to my own spirit.  The exhibit featured a significant collection of Burchfield’s doodles, often made on telephone memo pads or the score sheets for card games.  I don’t recall seeing such casual doodles being featured in a major art exhibit before that, but they were a revealing part of the collection, showing the artist’s obsessive exploration of the visual motifs he used to express the intangible and ineffable aspects of Nature.

Upthrust, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Since seeing Burchfield’s show, I’ve found my own doodles have become more intense, actually interesting for me to look at after the occasion of their making has passed.  Doodles are a way of making patterns by allowing the hand to move freely in response to subtle impulses.  Thus, doodling is a practice of feeling the movements of the life force and manifesting them in line.

Arbre, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Life force may seem a mystical concept.  On a certain philosophical level, it is the Tao, the mover of all things.  But it can also be understood in its most direct bodily manifestations, as the movement of the breath, the flow of blood, the nerve impulses, the direction of growth, and the response of the organism to move towards certain things and away from others.  All of these are things we can directly feel and express through bodily movement.

Folia, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

A sensitivity to these different qualities of movement, thrusting and bending, rushing and meandering, the ever-changing weather of emotions and the slow and indomitable determination to grow, gives life to the lines.

Clown, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

You don’t need to dedicate your life to art, as I have, to benefit from doodling, or to take doodling more seriously.  Just doodle in your own way, but rather than thinking of it as a compulsive response to extreme boredom, as the pacing of the caged, view it as the movement of the mind making connections.  Sometimes the different parts of the mind are most unified when they are separately engaged.  Above all, choose doodling when it is appropriate.  If you are sitting in a meeting, or listening to a lecture or sermon, or letting someone tell you the story of their life, and if you feel your attention flagging, don’t check your weather widget or BoingBoing – Doodle instead!

Crown, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt

Most of the doodles shown in this post were made on regular letter-size paper, sometimes folded in half, using Tombow brush-markers.

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