The Doodle Inn idea originally came about quite simply from my own wish to find somewhere locally where I could spend time drawing in the company of other people, without any pressure to excel or compete, and without involving any costs.

A few years ago, a string of events in my life – including the loss of several friends and loved ones over a short space of time, workplace bullying, and a living environment that was also feeling increasingly unsafe – triggered a breakdown. During my recovery, I found that drawing helped enormously to switch my focus away from my depression and grief, and gave me a purpose again.

Unable to work, so with no money to spare, even visits to cafes or similar spaces where I could be warm and dry but also have people around, were out of the question, and I was in danger of giving way to feelings of loneliness and isolation; I needed somewhere that I could go that was free, to be able to sit quietly and draw, but with people around who I could interact with if I wanted to, but without any pressure to do so.

In the end I was very lucky to find a group online that changed – or very possibly even saved – my life, and I’ve benefited in so many ways from finding them in terms of friendship, support, encouragement, sharing ideas and information, counteracting the isolation, and in drawing together, sharing as we learned to really look and really SEE the world around us.

After a while it occurred to me how lovely it would be if I could replicate our online group, and all the benefits it brings, at a local level (and if it works, maybe I could then encourage others around the country – even the World! – to do the same).

Our online group is made up of people from all around the globe – literally. It includes people from Australia, the US, Europe and the UK. Even though most of us have never met ‘in real life’, over the last few years we’ve become close friends. We share life’s highs and lows as well as our creative endeavours, and offer each other support and encouragement by the bucket load! We all say what a hugely beneficial effect the group has had on our lives, and how we wish we were all nearer…

Hence the idea for Doodle Inn.

I should just add here that people don’t need to be going through any sort of crisis to benefit from a little time doodling or drawing. They may just need to de-stress for a while from the normal responsibilities and pressure of everyday life, at home or at work, or to re-focus themselves after a difficult meeting or grab a space of downtime in a busy schedule.

The broad aim is to give people a space to go where they can, maybe for the first time, sit and draw quietly, in the company of other people doing the same. 

To be truly available to all it needs to be completely free to access within the community it serves.

That “community” may be residents of a particular area, or equally users of a particular place – maybe a library, leisure centre or even a workplace. A space within a place that is already being used by people in the ‘community’, and so having most facilities already available and therefore with no additional costs. 

In this way everyone, no matter what their financial situation, can have the opportunity to reap the benefits that drawing can bring to their wellbeing – without a focus on the results or any pressure to improve or make great art – while also enjoying a sense of community. 

Doodle Inns are simply a space to enjoy the benefits found in the process of doodling, or drawing. Play. Experiment. Explore. Look and really see. Share (if you want to). Make art even, but with a very small ‘a’.

Judy Coleman
Doodle Inn Founder
Co-ordinator at Doodle Inn HQ
and Virtual Doodle Innkeeper

Support the Doodle Inn Project on Patreon and help it to grow.

“Drawing helps me…

… to feel connected, part of something basic and timeless. Not having drawn for a time, I feel that now; I can identify what was missing.”

“Drawing and doodling…

…are very meditative for me. They make me feel calm and relaxed, and bring out my creative energy. The more I draw the more creative I get in other areas of my life too.“

“My sketchbooks…

…are a record of happy moments, of quotes that have inspired me in the down moments, of friends, and of my evolution as an artist (with a small ‘a’!).“