And here’s what it looks like in my diary, without any cleanup:
The Iphone continues to inspire me with possibilities. Ideas spread to a thousand people…instantly.
The best part of all? It can be quick and dirty. People forgive quality. Heck, they’re probably watching the thing on their phone…so why not shoot it on your phone?
After years of working at a newspaper, my uncle Jeff quit his job to follow his true passion: preaching. My aunt Connie commissioned me to draw him an image of a tree with strong roots for his 50th birthday.
This kind of assignment is rough for me, because I’m not a fine artist. For the kind of drawing and cartooning I practice, drawing isn’t just a drawing, it’s more like picture-writing. It’s about writing with symbols…either conveying some kind of information or telling a story.
The biggest problem was that I was trying to be clever by using a cross for the tree trunk:
I almost drove myself crazy trying to get it to look recognizable.
And so, after endless drafts, I learned a valuable lesson:
Don’t try to be clever. Just draw.
As Faulkner put it, “Kill your darlings.”
I threw the cross idea out the window, and went with what I love to do: tell a story in a series of simple pictures.
The bonus of all this was that the tree I drew as the “final” in the series turned out to be the best one I came up with:
So Meg and I headed off and got a three-panel frame:
Voila! A tree triptych.
A couple of days later, I learned another valuable lesson: Do some research.
A tree is a slow explosion of a seed….When drawing a tree, always remember that every branch is more slender than the one that came before. Also note that the trunk splits into two branches, then those branches split in two, then those in two, and so on, and so on, until you have a full tree, be it straight, squiggly, curved up, curved down, or bent sideways by the wind.
You draw, you learn.
Walter Isaacson has written a front-page article for Time Magazine entitled “How To Save Your Newspaper.” The Oklahoman is taking their own approach to getting you to buy that Sunday paper:
Think a newspaper is good only for reading, recycling or wrapping dead fish?
Think again. Think … poetry.
Newspaper Blackout Poetry is the creation of poet Austin Kleon and only requires three things: a newspaper, a black marker and your creativity. We know you’ve got it, Oklahoma, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is.
Grab a copy of this Sunday’s The Oklahoman at CVS and other locations and pick any story from that paper. Take a marker and black out lines from the story, leaving only the words you want to remain visible. Those words become your poetry.
Your poem can rhyme, or not. It can be a haiku. It could be a limerick (keep it clean), it could be free-form. Kleon will help us pick the winner.
So many artists are secretive about their process of making art. As if the magician revealed his tricks the magic would be lost.
Thanks to my wife, I’ve recently become inspired by the crafting community (see my posts on D.I.Y. and Maker Faire.) These folks not only peddle their art, they show you how they made it, and invite you to make along with them.
I’m working on a “how-to” section for my book so that people can try our their own poems. I’ve been pillaging my own favorite how-to books for inspiration. Books that don’t just show you how to make art, they’re works of art in themselves. These books have a spirit of generosity and inclusiveness. They believe that anyone can make art. They invite you to play and make along. Here are four of my favorites:
* * *
One! Hundred! Demons!
by Lynda Barry
Barry begins her book with a comic strip about how she discovered the japanese sumi-e brush and ink, and how it opened up a whole new world of creativity for her. She says she “hopes you will dig these demons and then pick up a paintbrush and paint your own! Sincerely! Pass it on! I had so much fun!”
And after 200 pages of her “autobifictionalographic” comics, she has a 10-page section in the back detailing what type of brush, ink, and inkstone you’ll need to try your own. “Come on! Don’t you want to try it??”
* * *
What It Is
by Lynda Barry
Barry’s next book follows roughly the same structure: half the book is a crazy collage/comic memoir, and the other half is a “how-to” writing workbook based on her Writing The Unthinkable! workshops.
* * *
Whatcha Mean, What’s A Zine?
by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson
Rad book about making mini-comics and zines. As Mark and Esther say in the introduction, “We wanted to make a book that we would have loved to have found when we first started our mini-comics.” It includes sections by comics superstars like Ron Rege, John Porcellino, Anders Nilsen, and Dan Zettwoch.
* * *
Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make A World
by Ed Emberley
This is a book from the late 70s I’ve only recently stumbled upon. Ed Emberley shows you how to “make a world” with just a few simple shapes, step-by-step. I love the emphasis on simplicity: if you can draw a triangle, a square, a circle, and a line, you’re good to go.
* * *
What are your favorite “how-to” books?
a big / wide-open space / and a cowboy hat / but / what matters most is / the swagger
Speaking of cowboy hats: this morning at a construction site, Meg spotted a cowboy hard hat:
Also, scanned this out of an old scrapbook:
And, to finish off the theme, let’s not forget one of my first blackout poems:
I’m not so much a fan of the hats, but I definitely need some boots.
another poem about making poems. yikes.
see also: “How To Be An Artist“