Day 4. Circling Back to Feelings
Processing Our Emotions with Drawings and Doodles
Helloooo, my GUT 30-Day Drawing Habit peeps.
YOU ARE DOING GREAT.
We are more than halfway through our first week of the 30-Day Drawing Habit—and therefore at the mid-point of our DOODLES. If you had some big feelings in response to yesterday’s doodle, you are not alone. People either loved or hated the Haring/Hundertwasser-inspired doodle. For some, it felt soothing and for others it was excruciating. This broad spectrum of emotions, I think, with all due apologies to the folks who hated the exercise, makes the day a success. If we always love everything we try, we aren’t growing. CONGRATS ON THE NEW GROWTH, GUT! 🌱 You have another tool in your art cart if you want to use it OR you never have to do it again.
Yesterday’s drawing was more about thinking. Today’s doodle is (almost) entirely about feeeeeelings.
Drawing and Doodling to Process Emotions
“I know that when I finish a drawing, my anxiety level decreases… it is the treatment of anxiety.” Louise Bourgeois
Drawing helps us process our emotions. It helps us focus, settle into our bodies and breath, and allow thoughts and feelings that we may otherwise push down float to the surface. Drawing helps keep our hands busy, giving us just enough to do that we can experience our feelings without distracting ourselves from them. The act of drawing itself offers us a concrete outlet for those emotions. Angry? Scribble hard on that paper!! Anxious? Breathe out on the downstroke. Want to sit with your feelings and see how they shift and change with time? Try drawing circles.
Which brings us to our Doodle of the Day, inspired by the drawings of...
I learned about Hiroyuki Doi on an episode of writer John Green’s brilliant podcast Anthropocene Reviewed.1 Doi was born in 1946 in Nagoya, Japan. He was working as a chef when his younger brother died suddenly of a brain tumor. Doi has always been a creative person, but it wasn’t until his brother’s passing that he put any real effort into drawing and making art. And he didn’t do it to make capital A “Art.” He did it to process his feelings and make meaning of his loss.
Soon after this brother died, Doi began drawing circles. Tens of thousands of tiny circles. Together, these circles became a larger image. He said drawing the circles proved him “relief from the sadness and grief” he felt.
Today’s feelings-processing doodle is an exploration into Doi’s drawing process, but it’s worth noting other remarkable artists use circles a motif in their work. For example, Yayoi Kusama:
Kusama has suffered from hallucinations since she was young. She says: “[Making art] is how I get away from my illness and escape the hallucinations. I call it psychosomatic art.”
And then there’s the artist Vasily Kandinsky.
Also meditative and beautiful.
Finally, there’s the Enso - a discipline in Japanese ink drawing/calligraphy in which a circle is drawn by hand in one brush stroke. The entire universe contained in a simple mark:
Which circles us back to Hiroyuki Doi’s drawings.
I love this doodle exercise so much that I personally return to it often. Longtime GUT members will remember that last summer we kicked off week one of our 30 days of drawing with an entire week dedicated to Doi (and Agnes Martin! and yes this is also some Agnes foreshadowing.) So without further ado, let’s do some doodles Doi dots.