Book Review: Year of the Doodle

My goal is to do something in the studio every day but that can be tough during the work week when my time and energy are necessarily focused on teaching. My heart always wants to make art but my tired brain sometimes refuses to cooperate. For the last few weeks, I've been working in Dawn DeVries Sokol's book Year of the Doodle (henceforth known as YOTD.) I'm delighted to say that this book is just what I needed to keep the art flowing when it might otherwise dry up due to an excess of exhaustion or a dearth of inspiration.

I have to say right up front that I'm usually not one to use art prompts. I typically freeze in the face of a prompt even if I am initially inspired on the first read-through. However, I am always hopeful that a prompt will do what it is designed to do so I decided to give YOTD a try.

In brief, YOTD features a short word, phrase, quote or visual prompt for every day of the year with space to work. Fearful of the blank page? YOTD pages have a wide variety of soft, unobtrusive backgrounds built right in and each section is numbered in ransom note style. You start in on this project at whatever point in the year that the book arrives on your doorstep. I began on February 5, 2016 which, coincidently, is also "National Doodle Day." I'll work through to the end of the year, turn back to the front and complete January 1 through February 4 in 2017.

Technical Details:
This book is a comfortable, portable size & weight; it is 8-inches high by about 6-inches wide and just 3/4-inch thick. My hands are especially sensitive so the pleasant, satiny feel of the cover and the rounded corners are worth noting. 

This book is bound with glue AND stitching which is important because over the course of a year, YOTD will be opened and closed countless times. A good sturdy binding means no pages fluttering to the floor after months of work.

The paper inside is of good quality that holds up to a broad range of supplies, including wet media. I successfully used crayons, colored pencils, Tombow markers (with & without wet blending,) watercolors, Stabilo Point 88 pens, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, gel pens, Microns and Faber-Castell Pitt pens, Crayola markers, collage, and small areas of acrylics without bleed-through or significant wrinkling.

The paper does have a little bit of sizing, which hinders its absorption ability (hence the lack of bleed-through.) I advise not overworking an area when using wet media. I noticed that the paper started to "pill up" if I went over a doodle more than a couple of times with water and/or paint without letting the page dry in between applications. This has in no way undermined my use or experience of this book. All in all, I am quite happy with the paper quality (and I am the Queen of Paper Snobs!) The only media I would avoid in this book are permanent markers such as Sharpies and Bic Mark-It pens.


Usage Hints:
There are No Prompt Police:
I have found that the vast majority of the daily prompts are excellent but there have been a couple that were completely uninspiring. This is a matter of taste; what I find "blah" will be "Ah Ha!" to someone else. I don't have a lot of time to waste dithering over a response to a prompt so if I get stuck, I simply do something else in that day's given space. For example, you can see that on February 22, the prompt was
"The Perfect Cookie." That didn't spark anything in my brain so I decided to use that space to ink a large affirmation for myself as I faced off with a new work week.

As I said though, "lack of spark" hasn't been a frequent issue and mostly I try to work with what I'm given so I can push out of my comfort zone. In fact, some of those more difficult prompts have helped me develop ideas I would have never thought of without a wee push in a new direction. 

Make It Yours:
I add washi tape and doodles to the borders between days. I sometimes cover up the provided numbers with my own. I embellish the backgrounds. The pages of YOTD are just artsy scaffolding; you are in complete control of what you build from there.

There Is No "Behind": 
This is meant to be an enjoyable experience so please don't flog yourself if you miss a day. I have found that the space provided each day feels "just right," not too big and not too small. However, I have gotten a couple of days behind here and there. I just catch up when I can. I look forward to working on this project so enthusiasm for filling in missed days is never lacking.

In sum, Year of the Doodle has been a solid and valuable addition to my daily art habit. It keeps the inspiration flowing in times of stress AND it has sparked fresh ideas with a collection of fun prompts presented in a warm, welcoming format. This book just screams "USE ME!" I am happily obliging.

Postscript: This is an unsolicited review. I just bought the book, tried it out, and thought I'd post my findings. The links to Amazon are affiliate links; if you purchase the book through my blog, a few cents trickle into a gift card reward I get about every six months from Amazon. I only include links to stuff I have personally used and loved.


Loulou in Texas said…
I like the way you've worked through this book, and I especially like your lettering for "You can do this." Looks like a good book to get your creative juices flowing!