Random Thoughts on Random Doodling

Hello, my name is Friar, and I have a doodling problem.

I’ve always doodled.  It started when I was three, and Friar’s Mom would give  me crayons and scrap paper to draw on.  (Possibly,  to get me out of her hair).

My doodling increased in elementary school, and then continued all the way through high school, university, grad school, and into my adult life.

And I like to think I’ve gotten good at it.    Because  I’ve had over 40 years of practice.


And there’s  an art to doodling, too.    You just can’t sit down and decide  “I want to doodle”.

No….that’s called drawing.

Doodling doesn’t work that way.

In order to doodle, your brain has to be occupied elsewhere.

You need something else to think about, something brain-dead, not very mentally challenging…but just distracting enough that you can start to unleash your subconscious thoughts.


The best doodling for me occurs when I’m forced to sit and listen to something boring.    Like school teachers, university lectures, tedious phone calls,  conference presentations, senior managers, or those painful meetings at work that never seem to end where you want to gouge your eyes out.   That’s when I do my best work.


Not that it’s necessarily a good thing to scribble when you’re supposed to be listening attentively to a distinguished speaker.

But somehow, I’ve managed to retain enough information in my school years to get a PhD.   And I’ve always had good performance reviews at work.

So I must be doing something right.

Sometimes my doodles start off small, with just random shapes in the corner of the page.

Don’t ask me WHY I draw these shapes, or where they come from…I have NO idea.

All I know is that is that it “feels good” in my brain, when I draw them.  It seems to make the neural circuitry flow better.


If I’m in the right mood, the illustrations get more elaborate.   Less shapes, and more pictures.

aI think this one must have been at an especially boring event, because I had written:   “Aieeee.   Hear that?  That’s the sound of a brain cell dying”.


I also seem to like drawing  numbers and letters.

Any words I write (like “Walker” in this case) don’t necessarily have anything to do with the actual conversation I’m listening to.   Again, they’re just shapes my brain wants to draw.


And then, when I pull stuff like this, I know I’m in “The Zone”.


Not all doodles are random.  Sometimes, I’m in the mood to draw something coherent.

This one follows a botanical theme, for example.


While this one’s either a wedding cake, or a basilica.  I haven’t decided yet.

Sooner or later, if I doodle enough, I start to get ideas for my cartoons.

See the weasel-critter in the bottom left?

That was  one of my first attempts at a later cartoon:  Berserk! Goes the Weasel!

This one was my first sketch of Vikings Versus Ninjas.

Notice I didnt’ even have to draw the picture in detail.     I just needed to hint at some barely legible shapes, to imprint the idea onto my brain.

But the idea was there…Here’s the scene I drew several weeks later:


I wonder what will happen, when I retire and I no longer have to attend courses, or listen to boring meetings?   Will my doodling suffer?


But then again,  I could always sign up for a night course at the local community college that I’d have no intention of passing.

Just for someplace to show up and not listen, and take out my pad and pen again!

Explore posts in the same categories: Friar's Artwork

16 Comments on “Random Thoughts on Random Doodling”

  1. Cath Lawson Says:

    Hi Friar – These are brilliant. I love the Vikings versus Ninjas.

    It’s funny how listening to boring crap makes us more productive. I did doodle a bit in school lessons, then I moved onto writing stories. Later on, I even found that I could do crosswords a lot faster, if i was sitting in a boring lecture.

    You don’t have all that when you’re working alone but you’ve given me an idea. Maybe I should sign up to some crappy course at the local college, to help me when I have writers block.

  2. Friar Says:


    Good idea….take something really boring. Like the History of Linoleum. Or Project Management Principles of Quality Assurance.

    That’ll guarantee to wake up your muse! 🙂

  3. XUP Says:

    This is why I can write long-winded blog posts every day — super boring job! You know what would be fun? To take these doodles to an FBI profiler. You have an interesting brain.

  4. Brett Legree Says:

    I wonder if you couldn’t sell these, somehow.

    Go to boring talks e.g. a political speech, and then sell your “doodle interpretation” of the subject matter.

    You know how Hugh MacLeod sells his Gapingvoid business cards… same thing.

    There’s your entrepreneurial idea, right there 🙂

    Draw them on cardstock instead of lined paper or what the hell, draw them on lined paper, that would make it authentic.

  5. Karen JL Says:

    @ Brett – That’s called Graphic Recording and yes, it’s a real job. But you have to interpret the *actual* meeting…that’s the catch. (I did some training in it). 🙂

  6. Friar's Mom Says:

    @ Wee Friar,

    Your dad doodled during long chats on the phone (especially long distance family calls with is mom). Put a pencil or ballpoint in his hand and give him a scrap of paper, an used envelope, or thenewspaper and he’d doodle away. He’d start with an arc, or a square or a letter and outline it, and insert something geometrical. Unlike yours it evolved into a detailed abstract.


    I always learn from Friar’s posts. I have never heard of MacLeod’s Gapingvoid. I checked out MacLeod, Friar’s doodles are more humorous.

  7. Friar Says:

    I think these must already be on my permanent record, somewhere in a file cabinet…

    If I can convince people to pay $500 a doodle, I might just make minimum wage! 🙂

    Oh…that woudln’t work. My doodles have little or anything to do with the meeting. It would hurt my brain. 😉

  8. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom

    I think I must have got my artistic talent from Dad. He was damned good.

    Which is ironic, because he never had any interest in drawing or painting. What a waste…!

  9. Brett Legree Says:


    Ah, very good then – now we know what we can call Friar when he becomes one – a Graphical Recorder aka Mr. Vee See ARRRRRR…

    @Friar’s Mom,

    I agree, his doodles are funnier – so therefore, they are worth more money.

  10. Friar's Mom Says:

    @Wee Friar,

    Yup, your dad had more artistic talent than I did. I remember coming home from my first oil painting class and I showed him my first ever still life painting.

    He set up chianti bottle of dried Japanese lanterns, and green pepper on the kitchen table. He took a small piece of arborite and proceded to create a much better painting than mine, in a much shorter period of time, with not one lesson.

    I guess he took after his dad, who was a master cabinet maker. Just for fun, your grampa created original fine inlaid wooden jewlery boxes with wooden veneer remnants.

  11. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom

    Yet…he never wanted to paint. Go figure…(?!)

  12. Viking Thunder Says:

    You could go to starbucks and sit and listen to the innane conversations there.

    your doodles may suffer though. You would be doodling about vikings working on thier screenplay paying 5.60 for 12 ounces of coffee.

  13. Friar Says:

    @Viking Thunder

    Damn! That’s not a bad idea.

    If I can filter out the tortured-intellectual frappacino-talk.

  14. Friar's Mom Says:

    @Wee Friar,

    You’re generalizing about tortured-intellectuals.

    The last time I went to Starbucks with Seestor, we were surrounded by quiet individuals hooked up to their free Internet service.

    Which Starbucks do you go to?

    @Viking Thunder,

    I like your idea too. Perhaps one of those Starbuckians will notice Friar’s doodling, and think he’s Hugh MacLeod. I’m certain it’s Starbuckians who purchase MacLeod’s Gapingvoid drawings and business cards.

  15. Friar Says:

    @Friar’s Mom
    Yeah, but Seestor lives close to where all the upper-middle high-tech Double-incomers go. It’s all business with them.

    The ones I see the most often are in Chapter’s Book Store…with the Wannabee-Intellectual crowd. And then there’s one in the trendy part of town, with all the bohemians and metro-sexuals and what-not.

    A lot of pained-looking people, underweight, and dressed in black. Drinking their Venti Knobbuccinos.

  16. alberto Says:

    you might wanna read some of jung’s work…what you are doing is basically give life to archetypical symbols of your unconscious…most eleborate ones being basically full scale dreams….

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