Select Page

“look at me when I’m talking to you!”

“look at me when I’m talking to you!”

This is the last thing you should say to an artist.

There you are, making the point of a lifetime, and your students are all doodling. No one is paying any attention to you at all!

Well, that’s what you think is happening.

It’s normal to think that way. We are wired to believe people are listening to us when they make eye contact, and ignoring us when they don’t.

You know what though? It is just the opposite when a visual person is doodling. That’s actually the best way they can pay attention and retain what you are saying. (Here’s a Wall Street Journal article to back that up)

A visual learner’s brain takes the verbal information they hear, yet don’t process well, and combines it with the visuals they are making. The audio then becomes mulit-media and much more robust and easy to remember. If a student looks at a doodle later, he or she can remember what was being said while they were drawing it.

So, that means that if you get your students drawing while you talk, they’ll understand more of what you say. Ok, let me say that again – if you get your students to doodle, you will engage them more. It works much like when you repeat something for emphasis. Anyway, I realized this when I was in middle school, and made use of it all during lectures in my classes from then on. All of my notes have tons of doodling in them, and it really helped me remember.


Why is this?

The mind can do two types of activities at once, if one of those activities is unfocused. Doodling is like driving. You can listen to audio books and drive very well at the same time. That’s because driving can be done without focusing on it very much.

So you need to make sure that artists don’t begin to design and invent when you’re talking. When they’re working to solve problems, they will focus on it, and move their concentration and mental organization exclusively to the visual art and solutions they are creating, tuning out everything else. Doodling and shading are different though. These are two great activities that engage the visual mind, yet do not create too much focus. Remember to let students continue these types of activities when you talk. We will often suggest that you talk while students are engaged in this manner, in many of the ArtSquish lessons.

“Don’t look at me when I’m talking to you!”

Understanding this means you will have happy artists… and you know, that’s what the world needs.


About The Author

Dennas Davis

Dennas is the founder of Firstlight Arts Academy in Nashville, and also of The Art Instructor (formerly ArtSquish). He has been designing, painting, illustrating and teaching in various combinations since he learned how to hold a crayon. He is the illustrator of 24 children’s books with over 5 million in print worldwide.
See his paintings at

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Never rewrite a lesson plan again. Read ours once, print your PDFs, and use our easy SCROLL & TEACH lesson plan right on your phone (or other device).

We’ve even included a SUBMIT YOUR SUMMARY text. Just copy & paste and you can send to your principal. It’s an abbreviated lesson plan, with standards and learning targets.


Look for the READY, SET, GO! section at the bottom of each page. There’s background info, lists, and a printable Prep Page so you don’t have to write down a thing.