Alicia Mannix teaches the technique at Ashland's Nuwandart gallery.

Mail Tribune, April 21, 2002 

Josh Hogeland eyes his abstract painting critically, decides it is good.

"You  get to make up your own design," says the 11-year-old, "and just go crazy."

And that's precisely the point, Alicia Mannix says. An artist who says she struggled with her own fear of the blank canvas for 25 years, Mannix now teaches a technique she calls Doodlism. She says it stands in the same relation to theory-based art that jazz improvisation has to a classical music performance.

"You put yourself in the space of being 5 years old," Mannix says.

Maybe that's the reason it seems almost easier for the 11 kids ages 3 to 12 in Mannix's art class Saturday at Nuwandart, an Ashland gallery, than for some adult art students.

 "Training can, be restrictive Mannix says. "It Can make people think there's a limited number of ways of doing things."

The Doodlist painting/collage works created by Walker School fourth-graders lining a wall here testify. to the method's vitality. Each brought in a baby picture and a current picture of himself, and created a painting/collage/self-portrait, Doodlism students start by putting paint on Canvas with any instinctive gesture, anything at all. It's OK to drip paint throw paint smear it around with brushes, sticks, whatever.

Javier Banda, 6, had no trouble creating a colorful design he says started out to be a flag and took on a life of its own.

 "I'm going to do another one, too," he says.

I Noah Kileen, 9, says the best part is that "you get to smear all the colors around."

Other kids drizzle and drip paint Jackson Pollock‑style, onto canvases, paper, the floor, their shoes and in many cages themselves.

Underneath the mayhem, there's message, Mannix says. There are situations we can control, and things beyond our master.

"You create this chaos," she says. "And then you may notice an emerging shape. You introduce some order, make some aesthetic decisions."

She compares the process to the Big Bang with which physicists think the universe began.

She also compares it to giving birth ‑a moment in which the artist is not a ‑conscious doer but almost a kind of channel for something ultimately mysterious.

"It's a combination Of chaos and order," she says. "Which is pretty much what life is."

There's only one drawback, Josh Hogeland says, eyeing his painty shoes: "This is gonna stick to my skateboard."

AuthorAlicia Mannix