The Art of the Squiggle

A great way to free up your drawing and to think in an imaginative way is to do squiggles.  A squiggle is a random set of various lines drawn onto a page.  Either oneself or someone else then connects these lines to create an imaginative image.  This type of squiggle drawing originated in the Australian children’s Television program, Mr. Squiggle, which ran from 1959 to 1999 and was beloved by several generations.

Mr. Squiggle was a marionette with a pencil for a nose.  He came from the moon in a rocket and with the help of a grumpy blackboard and a presenter, created his drawings using the squiggles sent in by the child viewers.  It was a form of interactive drawing long before children had access to computer drawing programs.  Mr. Squiggle was the brainchild of puppeteer, Norman Hetherington.  He usually did the drawings upside down from the viewer’s perspective because that is the way he would see the page while operating Mr. Squiggle.  Then the finished drawing would be turned right side up and the image revealed.  Here is a five-minute episode of the program found on You Tube.  It is still delightful to watch.

As children, Mr. Squiggle and his clever drawings fascinated Ellie and me.  No squiggle was too difficult for him to transform.  It seemed like magic when the random lines became something recognizable and usually whimsical.  He must have done thousands of drawings over the 40 years that the show ran.

This drawing concept was so simple yet so inspiring for children.  It taught us how to use our imaginations with just a pencil and an eye for the image long before we learnt about great artists and their techniques.  There was no pressure to produce a great work of art. It was about the pure joy of the act of drawing.  And it was something you could do yourself.  We never sent in a drawing to the show but Ellie and I would do this type of drawing together, each transforming the other’s squiggles into a fun image.  It was a great game to play on rainy days.

I still like to do squiggles.  This type of drawing makes you come up with creative and often amusing ideas because you must use all the lines.  You can do it with someone else but usually I do these drawings for myself.  To make sure that the lines are completely random, I close my eyes and scribble on the page.  Then I look at what I have done and turn the drawing around and view it from different angles.  Sometimes it is possible to see an image immediately but at others it takes longer.  It is good to consider all the shapes and their relationship in space from various perspectives.  But eventually something is revealed.

It is not so much about doing a perfect drawing but more about stimulating the imagination and having fun.  If it turns out a bit wonky that does not matter.  And you can always do another one.  That is what is great about squiggles.  They are endless and you can use the simplest of drawing materials.

All drawing should be as enjoyable as a squiggle and it is a way of restoring your childhood creative spirit.

Happy squiggling.