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A doodle done with bright coloured pencils in pink, yellow, blue, purple, and red, a scribble art piece from Linda Lovisa art studio

Creative Exploration

The Art of Scribbling, by Linda Lovisa

A doodle done with bright coloured pencils in pink, yellow, blue, purple, and red, a scribble art piece from Linda Lovisa art studio

As children, the first thing we do when we are given a pencil is scribble. It helps develop hand-eye coordination. It is a way of communicating through lines. Most scribbles at a young age are up and down lines, some joining, others are disconnected. As the child gets used to how to hold the pencil, they begin to explore more shapes such as circles. Lifting the pencil and repeating the shape in another location on the page and gaining control of movement. 

A young child wearing an apron paints scribbles across a canvas on an easel with purple paint while in Canadian artist Linda Lovisa art studio
A young child learning to express herself through scribbling in one of Linda Lovisa’s art classes

When colour is introduced, there is excitement and energy that engages a whole other sensory system in the brain. Every time you introduce a new implement, such as markers, crayons, coloured pencils or paint they will often revert back to just lines of scribble until the colours are explored. The child will then go back to those familiar movements and introduce them in colours that appeal to them. It is so interesting to see which colours they are drawn to. Most often, as the child ages and is given the choice, the t-shirt colour they’d chose could be traced back to the dominant colour they chose when scribbling. Scribbling is also a very good way for a child to deal with stress, anxiety, anger and depression. When you scribble, it helps release emotions you are feeling at that moment.

A close up look at colourful art pencil crayons lying flat on a surface, some of the tools Linda Lovisa uses to teach children in her art classes
Colour can re-energize and excite children as they explore their artistic sides through scribbling.

An older child may spend some time drawing a picture, scribble it and crumble. If this should happen, here is a suggestion for you. What I have done in the past is to open it up carefully, showing respect for the effort and discuss all the positive aspects of the drawing. Encourage trying it again. Reassure the child that it is practice that will get the result he or she is looking for. Try and try again. There is always a positive within a negative. Re-enforcing the positive goes a long way. I believe scribbling should be a daily activity. Leave a stack of papers and a tin of crayons on the coffee table in front of a television, it is only a matter of time before you notice your child engaged in scribbling or drawing. Now, this is not from a scientific journal. These are personal observations I have made over the years with my own children, grandchildren and students I have had the pleasure of teaching.

A doodling piece done with orange, yellow, black and brown colours that evokes an autumnal feel, from a Linda Lovisa class
Scribbling can be a great expression of emotion, and therapeutic for both children and adults.


Scribbling for Adults?

It has been several years now since colouring books have come into vogue. Some are more complicated than others. They are an art form in themselves. Did you know that scribbling on a piece of paper and colouring in the shapes are just as therapeutic and cost a whole lot less? Scribbling as an adult is just as beneficial as when you were a child. Scribbling is freeing! It is acceptable to scribble however you feel. Nobody can scribble badly.  Quick scribbles and methodic scribbles are equal. Scribbling is a form of expression. I find a good quick scribble with no planning, just let it happen, is great stress relief and a way to warm up before creating a drawing or preparing to paint. Especially if it is one that I have not worked on in a little while. I always have several works on the go, so a good scribble is how I get back into it.

A doodle done with a pencil, with varying shades of grey, and done with more curving and circular lines, a piece from a Linda Lovisa class
“It is acceptable to scribble however you feel. Nobody can scribble badly.” – Linda Lovisa

I have a scribble canvas. This is a canvas that at some point I decided I was not going to continue as a painting. It then becomes a scribble painting. Quite abstract I might add. All kinds of colours end up on the scribble canvas. Sometimes I see something in the scribbles and I carry it on as a painting. At that point it should be sold by the pound, laughing out loud.

I also use scribble sketching to teach about values. Using a pencil, shading the various shapes in the scribble, light, medium and dark helps to train your eye. It also helps you learn how much pressure you should put on your pencil to achieve the various shades. It is a great exercise if you are new to drawing. It is a safe environment and you will be very surprised as to how this exercise trains your hand-eye coordination.

A doodle of a point on a river with two trees on the river bank, done with coloured pencil, and shaded with soft colours of green, yellow, and blue, a piece by Linda Lovisa
Scribbling can be a great exercise if you’re new to drawing. Don’t be afraid, give it a try!


Whether you are scribbling with paint, coloured pencils, ink, markers or a simple pencil, the results are the same. You are engaging your brain in a different way. Creating new pathways by engaging in something new. You are keeping the brain healthy, active and stimulated. A scribble a day may keep the doctor away. Put scribbling into your daily routine. There is always time for a scribble. Coffee, tea and a scribble is a great way to start your day!   

Linda Lovisa

close-up portrait of Linda Lovisa, wearing black-rimmed reading glasses, a silver locket and a black shirt, and she has short white hair, with her art studio in the background.
A photo of Canadian artist Linda Lovisa in her studio.