In my pre-doodling days, I thought doing art meant meeting an external standard. Since I am a rebellious sort, this didn’t work well. Even when I said, “I’m going to draw a chair that looks like that chair,” I couldn’t. More than lack of skill, it was a lack of deep desire. There was a battle between what I thought should be done, and what I wanted to do even though I didn’t know what my “it” was.

I needed another way into art and found it in a surprising place – martial arts with its understanding of energy. One of my teachers, Howard Lee, was a brilliant guy and phenomenal martial artist who was also an acupuncturist. His knowledge of these two areas meant he knew energy and was excellent at teaching about, spotting, and releasing blockages. He, along with my years of training, helped me get in touch with my energy and flow.

This carried over to the fine art of doodling. Rather than think I had to draw a certain way, I let energy guide me. The pen became an extension of my hand, and my hand flowed as I had learned to do with martial arts (without the end goal of clocking someone!). Where did my hand want to go? It was liberating to work this way. No mistakes, just surprising conclusions. Later, I would think about composition, color, and purpose; but for a long, long time, I just did my flow thing, watching my style emerge.

Do I mean I didn’t use my head? No, not at all….

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