As soon as the doodle art session started at The Lounge, a very creative and colourful space in Ghala where artists and students meet up regularly for discussions and workshops, all the participants had only one thing in mind – creativity. We knew we had to be as creative as possible to match the expectations of our 22-year-old instructor, Amira al Musalmi, a nurse by profession, but a brilliant doodle artist on the side.
According to Amira, we are all doodle artists, in that we scribble or draw something in our notebooks when we are otherwise occupied with something else. Examples could be doodling in school notebooks when we are bored or just not interested in a lesson being taught by the teacher. “Sometimes you would doodle over a long telephone conversation or a boring office meeting, so that makes us all doodle artists but, some of us take it more seriously than the others and develop it,” says Amira.
The young instructor started doodling when she was about 15 years old, but she gave it up shortly after that. “I was into doodling as a teenager, but I really thought my art wasn’t very nice back then and so decided to quit. A few years later, though, I decided to study art properly and then got into doodling again.”
Doodles are simple or complex sketches that can have a specific or abstract meaning, as interpreted by the viewer. A lot of them are fairly evident, but many others are subtle and that is exactly what Amira likes about doodle art.
“When I was younger, art was like an escape or a process of relaxation for me, but when I discovered doodle art, it added more mystery without looking mysterious – it’s fun and looks very happy. If I draw a leaf, it can resemble life, depending on what I draw around it,” she says.
Another aspect about doodle art that Amira likes is the thought process involved, “With normal art, you draw something and it’s over, but with doodle art, you keep adding stuff to your drawing and the thought process is complex at times because you have to add objects and so you need to think.”
In the workshop, Amira first told all of us to draw a closed, solid object. It could be a leaf, cloud, face, anything we fancied. I drew a sun and bordered it with triangles.
Next she asked us to draw another object, but this time she wanted us to draw around it. I drew a square and squeezed in many more squares within it, trying to be as creative as I could. Next, I drew a few hearts and wings on the side but didn’t feel satisfied enough and so drew a leaf and many leaves inside it. But I still wasn’t satisfied because I couldn’t add much around it.
For Amira, doodle art is a form of expression. She doodles when she hears about things trending on social media, or when she feels strongly about something. “I was going through a bad time and I created a doodle design that was sort of coming out of an eye. It was a time when nothing was working out for me and I just expressed it all there. I did that doodle with darker colours as well. It was a weird one, but it expressed my thoughts well,” she tells me.
Amira tends to use clouds in her doodles because to her, the fact that they bring rain symbolises growth.
This young artist doodles to express her thoughts, relax and be creative, but she has also taken it up as a side business and doodles for paying customers. The minimum cost per doodle is RO15 and Amira charges money because she is self-taught and doodling takes up a lot of time and effort. “I have had a few customers come up and ask me to design some stuff for them. They give me the theme and I have to come up with the objects and the final design.”
When she is working on a special doodle for a client, it takes Amira about four days, with five hours per day of work, depending on the size and intensity of the design.
While I was feeling lost staring at my doodle, Amira showed us one particular doodle design she had done for a client. It was quite evident from the art that it was all about love, with cute hearts and love messages flying all over the space, some of them hidden in small shapes. I grew really inspired by this – and started drawing something similar, but with my own shapes and words.
Amira told us we need to be completely engrossed in our artwork if we wanted it to be good. “It’s all about the focus and for how long you can keep that focus.” she says.
Another thing Amira likes about doodle art is that it can also help with hiding messages or making words less prominent. “Sometimes when you don’t want the message to be very clear, you can hide it in doodles. This way you can express yourself without imparting the idea and people will also appreciate your design.”
An important tip we got from the workshop was that the look of the doodles depends on how dark or light you make it and you would normally do that using a pen. Towards the end of the session, Amira gave us tips on what pens to use for different types of doodling (the best ones are those with a small tip, 0.5 or below) and showed us her personal collection that she uses on her designs.
At the end of the workshop, all the participants had come up with their own designs. “It was a great session, I learnt some amazing tips and I can improve my doodles a great deal now,” says one participant who has been doodling on and off for the past year.
I drew a heart in a quote shaped object and started filling it up with whatever I had in mind – a bottle, some words like hello and smile – then added a few hearts and other shapes to it. To round it off, I highlighted certain parts with a black pen and was quite impressed with the final result. I was really proud of my design and while it wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, I think it wasn’t a bad attempt for a first-timer.