The Place of the Doodle

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Typical artists have a strange and sometimes tense relationship with “Primitive, Visionary, or Folk” artists. God Forbid your gallery represents both Folk and Fine artists, there really is no way to compete for exhibition space and limited sales. Untrained, uneducated, and unspoiled, the Folk artist has an automatic purity as a creator, an elemental virginity, an uncorrupted simpleness that trained artists can never have. A BFA or MFA usually disqualifies the owner from ever finding that blessed state of untarnishment.

But, how close can I get? When does it happen? Must I set up a Surrealistic Automatism experiment with Breton breathing down my neck? The closest I can come to this rarefied air is the doodle. Milwaukee gallerist Debra Brehmer defines the pastime,

“A doodle is a drawing that lacks intent. It is a random sketch, sometimes done to fill time and space. You draw. You don’t bring intentionality to the act, you just draw.  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 can feel my ego bristle at the very thought of being shut down; my ego wants to show off, intellectually connect, challenge, inform and delight – and take full credit for all positive results. Perhaps the real difference between fine and folk artists is the nurtured ego that comes with an education. Doodling, for me at least, starts to diminish the ego in a very healthy way.