Automatic drawing started within the early surrealist movement. Part of surrealism's aims was to reveal areas of subconscious thought that are usually hidden or below the surface.
One way of accessing these thoughts is through the act of drawing without thinking, or trying to tune out the critical or calculating voice and letting your hand guide you.
This type of drawing forms an important part of the idea generation stage of my process. It's something I often use as a warm-up, generating loose swirls and shapes that then make up motifs in other pieces.
Hilma Af Klint was an artist in the early 20th century whose work incorporated automatic drawing and abstraction. A spiritualist, Af Klint used automatic drawing as a means of expressing metaphysical concepts and, as she believed, communing with other worlds. She wrote extensively about her practice. This quote from her notebook sums up some of the ideas behind automatic drawing:
" I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke."
The Guggenheim Museum has further information and resources on Hilma Af Klint and her work:
My mindfulness practice informs some of my automatic drawing. In researching mindfulness for an infographic, I practised techniques for becoming aware of the body, and drawing abstract visualisations of this on paper.
When I do automatic drawing, I'm not seeking any outcome other than the process itself. It isn't a project in itself, but a way for stimulating ideas and as a creative warm-up