Epic doodle prospectus



A doodle is a drawing that lacks intent. It is a random sketch, sometimes done to fill time and space. Perhaps you are at a boring faculty meeting or a dull panel discussion, or a bus stop or sipping coffee at McDonald’s. There’s a pen handy. You draw. You don’t bring intentionality to the act, you just draw. There are few places in life to make marks and whittle away time without being goal oriented. In this way, doodles remain a delightfully non-commodified pleasure within our human drive to produce, impress, accomplish. The doodle is a trans-historical remnant connected to the Surrealist practice of automatic drawing, an exercise intended to shut-up and shut down the ego. 

I am a fan of the artist, cartoonist Lynda Barry who now teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an evangelist for doodling and has incorporated it into the way she teaches writing. She instructs that if you run out of thoughts while you are writing, draw spirals. The absent minded act of drawing spirals allows your mind to break its chains and enter a driftless region where thoughts float like clouds.

In conjunction with Portrait Society’s upcoming exhibition, Drawn Out, opening April 7, we invite you to share your doodles in the Project Space. I am curious about what a wall of doodles might look like when it becomes a chorus of scribbling.

Nuts and bolts of the project (please read carefully if you plan to submit):

  1. There is no jury. The project is unregulated. Bring your work to the space and tape it on the wall, anytime.

2. Doodles should be no larger than 8 inches at any diameter.

3. They can be on any paper, envelope, napkin, surface.

4. Sign your doodle on the front so viewers know who made it, or if you are uncomfortable with that, the back will do.

5. Please contribute a separate hand written note about why you doodle, maybe who you are, how this practice fits into your life and tape that note to wall as well.

6. We will not be returning your work. You are donating it to the gallery.

7. We will sell these doodles for small prices to raise money for a project we started five months ago called On the Wing. (see below for details)

8. You can continue posting throughout the run of the show, until June 4.

9. Thank you for participating in this collaborative project.

On the Wing

We launched this project in October 2016 with a small fund raiser that included a talk by architect Jim Shields.

Basically, On the Wing will provide small sketchbooks and pens/pencils to homeless individuals. They are invited to fill the sketchbook with anything they want, drawings, notes, lists. When they complete the entire sketchbook, they bring it back and it will be purchased for $50 (cash). The intent is to give voice and visibility to the homeless, a population often maligned, misunderstood and feared. The invitation to fill a journal is fully open-ended, on the terms of the participant with no goal or directives in mind.

Eventually, the series of sketchbooks purchased through the project will be part of an exhibition and will be auctioned to raise money for the the next and continuing phase of the project.

We will need an initial budget of $10,000 to do this in a meaningful way with a designated part time staff person overseeing the process. The beauty of it is that once it gets going, it should be self-generating with no or little additional need for financial support.