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Rules are fun when used in moderation

Doodle 20 Original Black Pen Drawing Framed by Tom Cornish

Pattern & Repetition are two of my favorite principles of design. For me, working with these two principles leads me to the others: Balance, Emphasis, Movement, Proportion, Rhythm, Variety and Unity. I don’t evaluate my work based on these principles, but I do notice that patterns and repetition are the means to my ends.

When I talk to people about my drawings I usually share that I never plan them. I start in the center and work my way outward, one ring at a time. That’s true for a majority of my pieces with some subtle exceptions. “Doodle 20” is one of those exceptions.

Create a pattern

I always start by creating a pattern. In this drawing I started by creating this four pointed star like shape. I remember pausing after I was completed the shape thinking, “what if it just repeated this shape“. At that point, I attempted to create the same pattern about an inch or two next to the original; turning it on its axis about 45 degrees. After that, I kept drawing similar patterns, maybe 4 or five.


The initial pattern had a line drawn completely around it. I decided to continue drawing those lines outward. I figured I’d make another decision on what I would do once they got closer to touching. By now I had come up with three rules. 1) Draw the pattern 2) Repeat the pattern 3) Outline the pattern

Follow these rules, then add one more!

I faithfully outlined these patterns. Slowly building the lines outward. A few sessions into following these rules led to my 4th and final rule! Incorporate a new pattern for variety. The smaller, eight pointed star was integrated into my drawing and fell in line with the first 3 “rules”. I now see that the remaining design principles came into play with some more apparent, the others, irrelevant.

It’s all in the ‘Do’

I’ve taken some of the ‘just do’ attitude from my drawings and incorporated that mind set into my paintings. For me, painting involves more planning and thought about color palette, composition and technique. And while it is important to address these from an artistic standpoint, it’s most beneficial to me and my contentment, to make the decision and trust that it can’t be wrong. Enjoy!

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