More small doodles


170110a Stick Man (2017) oil on canvas 18 x 13cm

Doodling small improvised paintings still feels like a great way to get comfortable with painting. Today I made four. In the past, my doodles were usually abstract. Lately, they’re all representational, almost illustrational, but I’d like to find more of a balance between the two. I’m still thinking about that Salle quote about the “simple representation principle” that makes it possible to “barrel through densely packed scenes efficiently”.


170110b Wooden Zebra (2017) oil on canvas 26 x 31cm

I wanted to doodle in paint again because I was thinking about how many years I’ve been doodling in pencil and, as a consequence, how completely comfortable and confident I am about sketching. By comparison, making large planned paintings feels incredibly tense and laborious. I’d like to loosen up as a painter, and doodling small paintings helps to get me into that habit.


171001c (2017) oil on canvas

I was also thinking about composition, and deliberately messing it up by pushing the stick man’s head into the top edge of the painting, or pushing the wooden zebra’s eyes out of the frame. I like the way that takes the eye to the edge of the picture, but then allows other parts of the picture to become a new focus.


171001d (2017) oil on canvas

“Bad” composition is something I’d like to explore more. Maybe I could combine that with the “bad” colour choices caused by my colour-blindness, and make something so-bad-it’s-good. That makes me think of “Bad Painting“, and also of a book about “Failure” in art, which I’ve been meaning to buy for ages because I like the idea of finding something to enjoy in failure (like the Jim Shaw Thrift Store Paintings).


2 thoughts on “More small doodles

  1. ha ha – I’ve just reacted a moment ago to your post on the influence of Schutz and Guston and the idea of barrelling through densely packed scenes efficiently. I saw your first doodle in THIS post and without having yet read your blurb I knew where you were heading.

    I’m glad you relayed your comfort and confidence with drawing. I either didn’t know or had forgotten. Logical then, to paint your arse off doodling, in ways and techniques, so that a similar command might come your way with oil painting, and on large canvasses.

    As to composition, the two examples you give here of “messing” clearly work a treat. They are visually effective. But they are composition as much as they are ‘messing it up”. There is an implied “normal” in your naming it thus which you’ll have to watch.

    Worrisome is your idling about doing bad compositions. If you make compositional decisions, whatever the basis, you will most certainly be angling for an outcome which pleases you for some purpose. So they won’t be bad composing. Use another word for me eh! hahaha


    • Good/Bad, “normal”/”messed up”, correct/wrong, the little imaginary wars between these poles, they’re probably all enabling fictions to keep the painting interesting. The idea of “wrongness” really appeals to me, even though it’s a moving goal. But I do think there is such a thing as normative composition, and sometimes I find in my own work there will be a sense of the whole picture being off-balance and twisting off in one direction, unintentionally, or leading the eye into a dead-end, and I think “I must try to do that again, but worse”. But then I forget. Thanks for reminding me!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s