IF YOU CAN DOODLE, YOU CAN PAINT Book Review – From Small Doodles to Full on Paintings

If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint
If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint by Diane Culhane

If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint

If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint, a how-to-paint book, by Diane Culhane labels itself as “Transforming Simple Drawings into Works of Art”. This 111-page book aims to challenge readers, by “awakening your creative spirit”. Filled with instructions and a variety of visual drawings as examples, this book provides steps on doodles and painting, using simple doodles. Full of color and various doodles ranging from animals, nature and still life—starting from the book cover up until the very back of the book—it is visually inviting. The doodles around the book seem simple enough and are typical things that a doodler may have drawn that makes transferring doodles to paints, much less daunting. Personalizing the artistic experience, this book encourages you to dig through your own archives by first collecting doodles and then building upon those.

Note: This writer has always been an avid doodler, having taken art classes up until her senior year in high school but was never that great at painting. The upshot: a large collection of notebooks filled with various doodles as raw material to put this book’s ideas into practice.


It is important to note that some exercises in this book, call for a variety of art tools in order to follow the exercises. These art tools may warrant a trip to a local art supply store before being able to start. Some tools you may already have-- like ballpoint pens, markers or glue sticks.  However, if you are not an avid artist,  you may have to buy tools such as acrylics paints, India ink and wood panels.

Exercise #4

Looking at the table of contents, the book outlines exercises to get the creative juices going, with some chapters dedicated to creating doodles, enlarging doodles before leading to the final painting chapters. These chapters are easy to understand and are simple enough that anyone can do them. 

Painting may not be your cup of tea and perhaps very daunting if you are not artistically inclined.  However, this book breaks the how-to down step by step before you leap into “Chapter 5: Mixed Media, Painting With Your Doodles” 

One exercise detailed in “Chapter 4: Blowing It Up, Enlarging Your Doodles” instructs the reader to grow their imagination by making larger and large copies of any doodle. Using a copy machine and a small doodle, you enlarge and make three copies of an original doodle increasing each copy by 100%. The aim of this is to challenge us,  by working larger and larger, to then add colors to each doodle diving between warm, cool and gray color tones. By adding certain colors,you can play around with each doodle, making small changes within the same doodle on larger scales. This is a simple activity that helps you look at the relationship between the already existing and larger doodle.

If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint
Page 70 of "If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint"
The end result of exercise #4, with each doodle increased by 100% Nathalie Nivasnanda

This provides insight for the next chapter exploring color groups and the effect that the color alone can have on a piece of art.


Arriving at Chapter 5, it is finally time to get out your acrylic paints and wood panels! Unlike other chapters where each exercise builds upon the last, this chapter brings up various styles of painting that the reader can choose from. You can pick and choose from styles such as grid painting, theme painting, abstract art painting—just to name a few. In these paintings, doodles act as a starting point and are ideas that you can use for your very own paintings. 

In this way, doodles become important as a springboard for ideas. This reviewer chose to make a theme painting transforming a doodle and colors popular with the pop art style.

Pop art color inspired paintings Nathalie Nivasnanda


Overall this book made very strong connections with doodling and painting. It provides a base for painting using a common, simple drawing style that many people make in their everyday lives. That base gives you a foundation, which can then be expanded, to paintings.  Unlike regular how-to-draw books, If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint, doesn’t tell you what to paint and the exact steps. It instead encourages you to find your own doodles and inspiration using the instruction (and visuals) provided by the book as a starting point on how to transform your doodles into works of art. 

Doodles have the reputation of being frivolous, meaningless scribbles but Culhane takes that notion and flips it .  This book says that doodles can be the basis for works of art. To this end, this book does answer and proves that if you doodle, you can paint!

In summary, this book is highly recommended for those who are looking to get their creative juices flowing and who love to doodle. If you are on a budget or are not a doodler, you probably won’t get much out of the book as these tools in the book may get pricey especially since it is unlikely that doodlers have Indian ink and wood panels laying around at home and this book does require the you to gather doodles and/or create doodles before getting to the painting part of the book.  If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint seems to be geared especially for those who doodle and draw regularly, not you.

If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint


USA - $19.99

Canada - $29.99


Photos courtesy of the Quarto Group

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