Walking Dots

Doodle System

Honed over the years after letting my mind wander, I developed a system of basic elements and simple rules. The system is comprised of dots, circles, lines and arrows. Nothing must intersect with anything else, and lines and circles often occur in series of 3 or 4.

Walking Dots

Dots going for walks

As a designer, I’m also ways weary of defaults and templates. They are useful for quick production, and, if filled and enhanced correctly, can conceal their prefab nature. As an artist in much the same way, I am weary of developing standardized fallbacks, metaphors, and/or techniques as an easy out. In either case, as long as it serves to develop and/or enhance communication, and aesthetics, it becomes a worthy mechanism. Hence this style of doodling that has become a regular means of expression.

As the doodle style has improved, new encoded elements are emerging. Combinations of elements are becoming symbols of alpha numeric characters.


A line is a dot that went for a walk. — Paul Klee
Walking Dots: The beginning

Close up of 1995 hand-drawn drafting document. Arrows highlighted.

Please understand when I say I come from or am ‘old school’ I am not admitting any fear or inability to adapt or use modern technologies. It is merely a reference of age, as I leaned drafting by hand at first. Technical Drawing was a senior-level class at my high school and I enjoyed it immensely. Not only the equipment, but also the idea of scaling, squaring and especially the operation and penmanship when done successfully.

It became a basis of tasks far more laborious in my future. Once you set and establish your paper to square, everything else just falls in place. Like how current algorithms or systems developed need refined initial parameters at the start in order to adapt and grow. It sets a good framework, like a decent thought experiment. I digress: the instructor for this class had very specific ways arrows, lines, and type had to be created. I loved doing these arrows, and still do.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Not to give too much away about m age, but around the same time as said drawing course, Red Hot Chili Peppers came out with their hit album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Going to catholic school, the album title was enough to buy it, Neve mind how good the music would be. Ever the designer, even at that age, the stylized letter forms of the track list on the back drew (ha, see what I did there?) my attention. The linear elements, either the letterforms themselves or their surrounding decoration, were fluid and striking to me. I sought to emulate that in the occasional drawing, sketch, or doodle. Over the yeas my style became more simplified, and rules of space, balance, and even embracing art historical elements.

Dots going for walks

Standard black and white Walking dot. 8 x 10 inches

Style Rules

Dots going for walks

Standard black and white Walking Dot. This one is 11 x 14 inches.

As mentioned there is a limited number of elements and aesthetic rules I allow myself to operate with:

  • Only use lines, dots, and circles
  • Circles must only ever contain a central dot
  • Lines must be fluid and curvilinear
  • Lines must not be angled to any degree
  • Dots can brake up lines wherever
  • Not lines may ever intersect
  • Circles must never touch
  • Arrows must have a line of some distance as their tail at all times
  • Line quality must remain constant between all elements at all times

Other than those rules, the approach is pretty basic. Like Paul Klee said, “A line is a dot that went for a walk.” Lately I’ve been experimenting with thinner pens and ink well nibs as well. We’ll see. I rally like just using a sharpie and not thinking about it outside of the above rules and line quality.

Mental Break

Typically one of these drawings is done with fine point sharpie on whatever paper is near by. No Design should be without a sharpie for too long, so for these, it’s what was handy and I enjoy the flow of the ink. Speaking of sharpies, I have a few metallic ones. Reflecting on the color scheme developed from my use of copper cut tacks and stainless steel staples in different works, I’ve used a silver and bronze sharpies from time to time.

Additionally, I noticed a compulsion to fill spaces of a sheet of paper when establishing these, and this I’ve attributed to the art historical term horror vacui. Horror Vacui basically means ‘afraid of empty space’ and first recorded as used to descirbe interior designs of the Victorian age. Later, it became synonymous various Ancient Greek pottery and things like the Book of Kells. I do not purposefully or unconsciously use this approach. As I’ve mentioned in other pages or posts, I enjoy empty space and fine linear elements. I inject meaning in anything I create beyond what is actually being communicated. That type of intensity needs alleviation, and these works help with that. I’ll draw a line and arrow leading to a circle with a dot in it on a random piece of paper, and then think to myself,”alight… now fill this page. Fill. it.”

Dots on Walks

Black and white Walking Dot, 11 x 14 inches. My initials are hidden once in here.

Meaning in Repetition

Even though I endeavor to have these exist as strictly aesthetic pieces, I can’t help but find patterns or develop them. Various elements being similar to other typographic forms doesn’t help, so I begin to deliberately enhance the aesthetic by recognizing the repetition of these elements and steering them where I want. Recently, I’ve been quite cryptic about this, and that probably won’t change. When I share these on social media platforms, I usually just state something akin to, “My initials are in this drawing 4 times.” They literally are, if you can decode it.

Dots going for walks

Silver and bronze, 11 x 14 inches. My initials are buried 5 times.

Walking Dots are Ongoing

Share if interested

View More: , , , , , , , ,