The Devil’s Hand

The Devil's Hand

The Devil’s Hand

[extract from essays on Automatic Drawing]

by Barry William Hale

Published in LEXICON online magazine vol 5 [ 8/8/16]

Preoccupations of pen, ornaments of boredom, and the doodle are a creative expression born of the unconscious mind. The doodle is an unfocused drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied they can be concrete representations or abstract, daydream drawings. Etymologically this word is derived from wasting time or being lazy. An escapist occupation. Hence I have adopted the term the idle hand as a pun on the saying that the idle mind is the playground of the devil.


Kenneth Clark & A.E. Popham says that doodles were like the random flotsam of the unconscious mind that rises and float on the surface. Treated as if it was a natural and spontaneous phenomenon, was in many respects an invention, a concept at a certain point became extremely popular. With the rise in the popularity of Graphology in the early part of the 20th C which combined with virgining psychoanalytic ideas about free association and unconscious thought…….


At the same time in which an interest in doodles was increasing in popularity, this was reflected in the field of modern art; with the likes of Kandinski, Klee and Miro, and among the Avant-guard especially within the artistic movements of Da Da and Surrealism. The centrality of Automatism within the Surrealist movement is well documented, Breton’s application of the techniques of Automatism within an Artistic context and the replacement of spiritual agency with Freudian model of the unconscious and furthermore viewed their artistic method as a true expression of the unconscious and outside of conscious control…..

read full article The Devil’s Hand in LEXICON online Magazine

See all five volumes here: LEXICON MAG

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Barry William Hale

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