Doodles aren’t just for “Artists”. Even those who consider themselves not to have a creative bone in their body seem to scribble with whatever’s at hand while they’re on the phone, in a meetings or in a lessons.

Despite what your teacher told you, It is thought that doodling can actually help concentration and aid memory. Doodling is also said to be a good way access your subconcious.

A particular style of doodle trending now is the so called “Zentangle”. An entangled, organically composed doodle created in a moment of Zen. A few minutes of zoned out relaxation.

I created a “Zentangle Challenge” on Facebook and invited people to create and post Zentangles. Pictures were posted from all sorts of people – adults and children, professional Artists and people who consider themselves not to be “arty at all”. Just for fun, I said I’d share some common interpretations of popular patterns & pictures that appear in peoples doodles.

Boxes,Cubes & Geometrics:  People who place lots of neat, strait geometric shapes in their doodles are often people who like or need lots of neatness & order in their lives. It might represent a need for control, wanting things to be done in a certain way. Do you draw geometrics and boxes? Does your home have a very specific place for everything and everything in its place? How would you feel if your ornaments were rearranged? Someone put something in the wrong cupboard? Or your schedule was interupted? Or do you think your precise odles represent the ordered life you wish you had but haven’t achieved yet?!

Arrows: Ambitions and Goals! Arrows, espcially if pointing upwards can represent aiming at a clear goal (or target!) Are you aiming high? Are your arrows nice and sharp and all pointing in the same direction? Arrows which point in all different directions can mean you’re open minded OR perhaps you don’t know which way to go?

Chequer Boards / Black ‘n’ White: The alternating nature of a chequer board or black against white patterns can symbolise choices between 2 options. It might mean you’re thinking through which way to go with a decision. Stay or go? Yes or No?


Flowers: A circular shaped flower with petals going round it is said to represent Family. You migh need to examine the style of your flowers to interpret the deeper meaning behind them. Are your flowers blooming and neat and well balanced? Or are they wilting? Are there any petals missing? How do those sorts of things relate to your feelings around family?   Swirly, fancy, more abstract flowers might denote a more feminine, romantic nature in the person drawing them.

Stars: Doodling stars can mean you’re an idealist. As the quote goes “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars” 

Multiple repeated lines & patterns: Numerous lines or replicated patterns, (such as lots of neat, side by side lines or multiple concentric circles) can show a doodler who is highly driven and determined. Working relentlessly at ambitious projects. People who draw these types of things might be people who get stressed about maintaining high standards and achieving difficult goals.

Cobwebs: Creating webs in your pictures might reveal you are trying to trap or control people. Are you becoming a bit of a spider?! Are you trying to entice a romantic partner? Or stop someone from leaving? Or perhaps control people around you? Are you afraid of being alone and so trying to keep someone in your web?

Dots n Spots: Carefully drawn, tiny dots & spots can show a need to focus in on something. A desire to pin point the heart of an issue or a need for concentration. Are you  a scatter brain using dots as a metaphorical focal point?!

Above are a few common interpretations of popular doodle themes, but please remember, everyone is different! and there are no hard & fast rules. Allthough certain shapes & images tend to have common meanings among people it does vary individuay. For example,birds often represent freedom due to their ability to fly but, if you have a phobia of birds, you’re unlikely to choose them as your symbol of liberty! So bare personal differences in mind.

Doodles & Zentangles are a particularly good way of discovering things in our subconcious because they are the sort of drawings we create whilst conciously focussing on something else. If you draw whilst on hold on the phone or while listening to a lecture, for example, the drawing is not the main thing you’re focussed on – it’s emerging naturally from your sub-concoius. This means it isn’t being subjected to editing before it gets onto the page. This, and the fact that Doodles and Zentangles tend to use quite abstract imagery makes them an especially effective type of art for psychological interpretation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed interpreting YOUR doodles and zentangles! Remember, allthough I have studied & have working experience in Art Therapy, I am not a Doctor! This is just for fun and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice!

Please take a look at some of the Zentangles I’ve been sent…


Kate’s Zentangle. Intricate, fascinating detail.


Jolene’s Zentangle is an “Ugly Bug Ball”!


A wonderful Zentangle from a 10yr old


A Zentangle created by a textile artist



A Zentangle by a professional ilustrator, Janette Louden


Our Youngest Zentangler Daisy

Please Comment! Share your own interpretations, questions & ideas.

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