Organic form drawings (a surreal pencil art series)

Organic form drawings (a surreal art series)

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This collection, titled Organic Form Drawings, is an ever-growing colorful series of tiny detailed art pieces made using automatism.

You can explore the whole gallery here, featuring over 60 small pencil drawings.

See the organic form drawings


I originally got the idea for Organic Form Drawings by seeing the work of Dr. Immy Smith, a UK-based neuroscientist-turned-artist. She had been creating what she called “semi-automatic” drawings with pencils of various color. She took scrap paper or pieces of carding and drew detailed, abstract, biologic-looking shapes while letting her mind wander.

I took my own approach. The idea behind these surreal drawings is both simple and vague. I’ll do my best to explain, starting with the concept of “organic forms.” Looking for art ideas? You can follow along and even try making your own organic form art pieces.

About organic forms

“Organic form” is a broad term used to describe something irregular, asymmetrical, or naturally occurring. These forms contrast from others that are geometric, structured, or mechanical.

You might immediately think, “but wait, some naturally occurring forms are totally geometric!” Crystals are an obvious example. In an artistic sense, these are not organic forms. Organic forms are characterized by an absence of patterns, but they aren’t so hard to identify that the art piece is an abstraction.

I like to think of organic forms as sitting right in between abstract art and surrealism.

About the organic form drawing series

Whether you’re a creatively-driven person or not, you probably know that very few creatives get paid to make art. And if you’re a creative person who makes art, chances are it’s a thing you do in your spare time (if you have it) with your spare money (if you have it). Creative people often find themselves balancing two struggles: making enough money to get by, and finding enough time to do what they feel best at. Often, these two things are in conflict.

This series started as an attempt for me to balance those two things in my own life. It began during a time when I was dealing with both a tight budget and a demanding job with a busy schedule. Despite my limited resources, I wanted to keep making art. And while I enjoy coming up with ideas for surreal art, sometimes I want to make art that lets me unwind a little bit more and disengage from thinking too hard.

I started by deciding on an inexpensive and highly portable art medium.

Those of you who have been participating in my series of art ideas to help overcome creative blocks know that I often set limitations to inspire the creative process. One way I encourage people to set limitations is by narrowing down a medium. I limited the medium for myself when I started this surreal drawing series.  In this case, I bought a tiny two-dollar sketchbook with pages the size of an index card and a few cheap colored pencils. With the medium limitation in place, I was ready to start a series.

I brought my little sketchbook and a colored pencil or two with me everywhere—to work meetings, to church, to get-togethers. Usually I was making these drawings in situations where I was unable to focus on generating an art idea. Instead of coming up with ideas for the final images, I just began drawing without having a clue what I was going to draw. Nothing was planned in advance. In fact, it was almost like glorified doodling.

With that, these odd forms began to emerge, some looking like viruses, others looking like plants … all of them looking more or less biological.

So far, I’ve made 67 of these little drawings, and I may never stop adding to the series. Drawing these organic forms is a meditative process.  The paper is so small and the implement so simple that I am able to totally zone out. It’s always fascinating to see what comes out at the end, too, because I’m usually not conscious of my brain forming a concept. I’m just drawing.

These drawings are mentally about amorphous or unformed concepts, physically about details and discipline. It’s a reverse to my usual approach, which is one reason why I like them so much.  They amuse me.

I often base my organic form drawings on pieces of information from items I see around me.

With some of my first organic form drawings, I experimented with multiple colors, but I ended up making a single color per drawing the standard approach for the sake of simplicity.

It’s been a very freeing and relaxing series to work on.

If you’re an artist and find yourself in a time of life when you can’t think of art ideas, you have hardly any time to sit down and create, or you don’t have the resources for nice art supplies, you’re welcome to use this series idea to start a series of your own.

Show me what you made!

Did you  make one of your own organic form drawings (or something similar)? I’d love to hear about it. Tell me about it in the comments and share a link if you have it up on DeviantArt or your own website.


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