Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Self-Learning Comic Lessons

I ordered a few books from recently. This is one of the most interesting ones I've looked into. The title Drawing Words & Writing Pictures is a great title for a book! It starts you thinking differently right from the beginning. The book is set up as a textbook with instructions for learning the comics trade.

I would love to go to comics university (Center for Cartoon Studies) in Vermont, but it really isn't in the cards for me at this time. The next best thing would be long-distance learning. Since that is too expensive for my tastes, and would require a huge block of time to accomplish at a university pace, I have decided to follow the instructions in the book and work through the lessons one-by-one. I'll be working at my own pace (ie: slow) so I can still fit in my full-time job, my weekly lessons in Biblical Hebrew, and have a bit of social time with family and friends. I am hoping to keep plugging along with work on my various websites, too.

I have it in my mind that I want to draw/write a graphic novel over the next couple years. I'll work on parts of it as I go through the instructions in the book - explore subject matter I'm thinking of including in the novel, etc. I don't have a solid idea of the storyline for the graphic novel, but I do have a general idea. That's fine for me at the moment. It will flesh out more as I get going.

So far I have just taken time to flip through and peruse a few chapters. It looks so interesting. I can't wait to get started on it. First off, though . . . I want to do a bit of re-ordering my drawing table and the tools I'll be using. I've kind of gotten started with that, but need to finalize it all.

Just for your info, there is a website that goes along with the info in the book. If you want to take a peek, go here: And of course, as I get going with this, I'll post photos or links to show you how I'm doing with this. It should be fun!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Inspirational Drawing Blogs

I spent time today exploring various sites on the internet. The main subject matter of my exploration had to do with scrappy quilting sites. I've picked up several good reference sites for some more quilts I want to make in the future - to help in using up my scrap fabric. While exploring I also came upon Andrea Joseph's blog. She is an illustrator who has got some very impressive work going on over there. Her skill with making finely detailed pen drawings is amazing. Just seeing her stuff inspires me to want to get out my pens and paper and start drawing again.

I signed up to participate in two mini zine swaps over on This will provide me with an excuse to do just that. The zines are simple little booklets made up from one standard sheet of copy paper. There are simple instructions to fold and snip the paper so it turns into a little booklet. You provide the drawings, or paste-up of copy how ever you want. Then you scan it and print out copies which are mailed out to the other swappers. For the one page zines one can find a whole bunch of tutorials on line about making them. The folding of the paper is easy. Here is one link ( ) that shows how to do it. This link is all about Science Zines. It is easy to find ideas and resources on any number to subjects to write your zine about. Here is another link that is kind of fun. The Crafty Chica uses these mini zines as a promotional tool to hand-out when she goes to conventions. She suggests you may want to use them for other functions as well (see below or click here to go to the Crafty Chica website). While looking around to find these video links I also came across this one at Roz Wound Up blog. Her format is different, but still makes an eight page zine - that is larger - from one sheet of paper. It involves more copy time because it uses both sides of the single sheet of paper. I would probably use my long-arm stapler to hold the pages together just because it would be quicker than the hand stitching she shows there in her video.

The Crafty Chica video:

My first mini zine swap is based on Mexican food. I have some recipes that I will write out and add some of my own hand-drawn illustrations to accompany them. This swap requirement is to use the eight page mini zine format like the Crafty Chica and the Science zines above.

The second mini zine does not have a theme assigned with it or a format requirement. I will do mine on something to do with sewing or quilting - or maybe even drawing. Haven't narrowed it down just yet. I think I may do my second zine in the style shown by the 'Roz Wound Up' blog . . . so one of each style just to see how they go. The larger page size would give room for more copy, and more drawings. Since I'll be copying them here at home I'm not really that concerned with extra cost and time to do both sides of the paper.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Zentangles and Doodling Around

I played around with another Zentangle type drawing near the end of February. These designs are strictly made up on my own. I have hopped around the web looking at other's drawings and admired many of them, but up to this point have not taken time to seriously study the tangle patterns and how they're made. I want to do that in the future as a fun pastime. Just haven't taken the time so far.

It was fun playing around with lines and shapes on this drawing. I was trying to get a mix of things going on, but wonder if it is too busy. I suppose that all depends upon one's perspective on any given day. In a way I like all the activity going on because there is a lot to look at and notice in the design. But then again, I wonder if it is a bit disjointed and erratic. Not so peaceful to look at. It does seem to have a lot of energy about it. Lots of activity going on there.

I read about some Zentangle swaps on and considered doing some. So far I haven't signed up for any of those. One swap that sounded interesting was to draw up a little mini book filled with a minimum of 15 tangle patterns. Now that would be a good exercise and help me in learning some of the established patterns. There are a whole lot of patterns out there. A quick peek at will lead you to lots more info about doing these little drawings. It really is a fun hobby to partake in.

Here's a link I found from the Zentangle Youtube channel: Go take a peek at their how-to video and I know you will have fun doodling and tangling as well.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pen & Ink - Patriotic

Recently I have been looking at black and white ink drawings on-line. Way back in my younger days, when I was in college taking visual art classes, we used to make these very detailed graphic drawings in black and white. Since that time I have been interested in the graphic quality of this type of art. This includes if it is reproduced on fabric as well as other materials via the printing process. That's one reason I was attracted to the black and white prints on the fabric when I was working on my Rattlesnake quilt. That's something I need to finish up this year . . . hmmm . . . UFOs are abundant around here.

Anyway, like I was saying, recently I have been noticing these black and white images on-line alot. There is a whole category of this type of art, created a specific way, known as Zentangle art. You can find more information specifically about this specific art form at the Zentangle website. There it is used as more than just a fun type of art, but more like a meditation to help one relax and direct one's attention in a particular way. I'm not into Zen or the meditative aspect of what they are teaching, but I would agree that repetitive drawing of patterns and designs does help one to focus at times: example when listening a radio or television program, or a professor in a college class. It is the same with doodling on your paper. You can achieve the same sort of thing. I've also heard similar things said about knitting or crochet, or hand quilting. It is an activity that is repetitive so you mind is not primarily focused on the activity, but on the auditory stimulation going on around you. In fact I had a professor who once told us he did not mind if we did other things in class (like knitting or doodling), just to refrain from talking with one another while he was talking. He kind of laughed when he said, "I know I've said something profound or significant when everyone puts down what they're doing and writes something in their notebook". It is kind of funny to experience that as a teacher; to have everyone, at the same time, begin to write something down. Of course you know when, as a teacher, you must be starting to get boring and lost their attention, when they don't write down the important things. I can remember occasionally saying, "You might want to write that down" only to have someone tell me, "Oh, I'll remember that part."

Perhaps the fact I like keeping my hands busy while watching TV and DVDs is based on this habit from years ago. I have to say, there are times with TV you might miss some of the visual clues in a show, but most of the time the background music is ratcheted up during those times as an auditory clue to an upcoming visual dynamic of the show. Most directors follow the same pattern with sound and audio using these things to pace the storyline of the show. And so much that's on TV is predictable, you don't miss much anyway when keeping busy with something else. I rented a DVD this weekend and was planning on watching it while doing some sewing. So far I've put off watching it because it has subtitles. I'll have to just sit and watch (and read) on that one. Didn't notice that when I rented it, hmmm. Was kind of disappointed about it the other day when I was in my studio. So I put on some that I have already watched, so I could get some sewing done. But I digress . . .

The image you see here is one I started working on last night. I cut a stack of some 100 lb. Bristol paper into 3 1/2" squares. I rounded the corners with my 1/4" corner rounder that I use for scrapbooking. I found it better to soften the edges of these "tiles", as they're called on the Zentangle site, with an emery block (used to smooth your nails when doing manicures). The paper was thick enough that upon cutting the squares, the edges seemed very sharp. I just wanted to sand them a bit to blunt the hard edge a bit. The Zentangle web site offers pre-cut tiles and other things if you want to do something like this, but don't want to take the time to do the prep yourself. Since I'm not really doing "zentangle" per se, I decided to just cut my own and use all the supplies I already have on hand. My huge stack of 3 1/2" rounded square tiles was only $7.59 for the pad of 20 sheets of Strathmore Bristol paper I picked up at my local Hobby Lobby . . . plus a bit of my time to prep it to size. And I probably bought the paper during one of their half price sales, too. I ended up getting six tiles per sheet - 120 tiles total. So these should last me for quite awhile. I don't recall if I saw the type of paper they're using at the Zentangle site, but read that it slightly debosses when drawing. The bristol paper does not do that. It is a hard, smooth surface that works wonderfully with mechanical pencils and pen & ink.

I decided to go with the 3 1/2" square size that was suggested. It seems like a nice, small size to work with. Square is nice to be able to rotate when drawing, so all sides are the same and the piece can be turned to look at it from different directions. I'd have to dig them out from their storage area to be sure, but as I recall, the ones we did in college were 6" square with square corners, not rounded. They obviously would take longer to fill with the inking. We had specific instructions on the size to cut the mats for those as well. I can remember during that class, we all brought our matted 6" pen & ink drawings in and lined them up along the chalkboard rails for "judging". Ha, ha - I say that in jest! It wasn't really "judging" exactly, but we did have to speak up and elaborate (defend?) what we chose to do and why we drew things in a particular way. Ha, ha . . . the instructor said that was supposed to help make us learn to talk about our work, learn how to speak about our ideas and help to establish us as artists. It's because artsists face rejection all the time when they go to submit their work to galleries and shows that are juried, and producing and speaking to the public at large when selling your work directly to someone else. You have to be able to promote it, and speak to others about it, and why they want to own it. Sales, sales, sales . . . it is just a part of life. We're always doing that!

Okay . . . I'm getting pretty lengthy here. Didn't know I had so much to say today. This drawing is not done yet, but I'll post another image of it when it is done. At this point I am thinking of calling it "Patriotic" because of the stars. And it all developed because I started wandering around the web looking at black and white graphic drawings. I found the star challenge at I am the Diva website. And get this . . . she's a certified Zentangle instructor. I smiled when I read they were certifying people to teach and sell their product. Yes, it's all about sale, sale, sale. Now, to just get thinking about how I might develop a product to sell . . . hmmm. {Smile!}

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Creative with a Cue (or Without a Clue?)

I had indicated early on in the year that I wanted to participate with Terry Stegmiller and the Three Creative Studios - Creatvie Cue project. Ha! Epic fail . . . here it is already into December and I only managed to complete the first two cue words! I did the first word: East and the second word: Heel. After that, I continued to go check out her site and the list of word cues, but . . . well . . . nothing. It's kind of pathetic, but I have followed the words and managed to log onto the forum fairly often to see what some of the others were doing with the words. But I have been a real putz about actually making any of the word prompts into drawings. Since I want to change some of my activities and become more involved with drawing again, I have decided to jump back into the Creative Cue pool and work on this week's word: Bell. How 'bout that!? Just jump from week 2 to week 48. Not exactly a triumph, but . . . oh well . . . life goes on; try again.

At one point (several months into the year) I thought to go back to the beginning of the list to catch up and make the words work as a story - a type of comic book story or graphic novel. I had some ideas rolling 'round in my head on how that might work. I may still work on that . . . make them into an on-going story. Creative Cue - The Graphic Novel. Ha, ha! How's that sound? Hey, it's something to try while I hone my skills at drawing again! Why not? Hmmmm . . . we'll see. Afterall, I've been tracking all the words, as you can see by these photos, and have the pages divied up - four words per page. I didn't think it worth the trouble to photograph each and every page, but believe me they're flagged with sticky notes on each page what the cue words are supposed to be, and in proper order. Some of the words seem they would flow together nicely into dialog in a story, but others are a bit erratic.

Erratic . . .

Like that would stop me . . .

It'd make for a good challenge . . .

Stay tuned . . .

In case you missed it, here are the drawings I did for the "East" and "Heel" Creative Cues at the beginning of the year:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Comics are Calling

It was years and years ago, during a family visit to the home of someone my parents knew, that I had my first memorable encounter with comic books. That evening we went to supper at their house. Later while our parents visited, we kids went upstairs to play. I was completely enchanted by the huge piles of comic books spread throughout one of the upstairs bedrooms. They were on the shelves, piled in the closet, a box under one of the beds and all over! I was stunned by the sheer numbers of them. We had children's books and maybe a few comic books at our house. I really don't remember how many, but nowhere near the volume their kids had.

I have always been drawn to art . . . and drawing pictures, coloring, painting, etc. And I have always loved reading - ever since I learned (with delight!) that I could decipher and read the words myself. I loved that I could read on my own and figure things out without having to wait for someone else to do it for me. It's only natural that combining these two 'loves' in the form of comic books would be the perfect mesh. And being told that night after supper than we kids should go run along and play . . . to walk into that room with all those comic books was like walking into Wonderland!

As the summer turned into fall this year I was feeling drawn back to comic books, and comic book art. These days it is referred to sequential visual art, graphic novels and other monikers. No matter the name, it still enchants me. Those little panels with the blending of drawn images and story telling seemed a sublime mix. What a wonderful way to communicate! It uses both one's visual acuity and verbal skills. I picked up a couple books with instruction on making comic books some time back: Making Comics - Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, and Understanding Comics - The Invisible Art. Both books are by Scott McCloud. He's got a website, too.

I am working my way through these and some other books on comics - all in the hopes of teaching myself how to make my own professional quality comics. This, my new blog, will be a place to share my comics as they materialize.