Sunday, June 30, 2013

Daily double: now we're cooking

So, there's a new plan: out is Drawing Words & Writing Pictures; in is, who sends out a daily drawing prompt on Twitter. I'm going to draw the prompt every day, and post it along with something from the archives.

Today's prompt: Draw the Man of Steel.

Today's drawing: This is a crappy scan, but I like the sketch and may fix it up in Photoshop.

From the files: Not sure if this is better or worse.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013


So, one of my favorite webcomics is Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques. I started reading it almost from the beginning and have been able to watch Jeph's art develop as well as just enjoying the young-indie-scene soap opera. Here's one of the main characters, Faye, from her first speaking appearance, from midway through the run, and in her most recent appearance:

Jeph's art in the beginning was - and he'd be the first to say it - crude. The more he worked, however, the better he got. Somewhere a few years ago he hit his stride as a cartoonist and his stuff became so much more visually appealing. Since then, it has been a matter of refinement, and he's so good now that the punchline of a strip can be the raising of an eyebrow, the cocking of a head, or the tightening of a grip. He could illustrate one of the old Jack Benny shows and you wouldn't miss a nuance.

Danielle Corsetto's Girls With Slingshots is another great strip. Danielle's art developed a little differently that Jeph's. Here's the main character, Hazel, again from the first strip, the midpoint, and the most recent strip:

Danielle's early work is not crude, like Jeph's was; in fact, it seems to show more formal art influence: she's drawing instead of cartooning. Somewhere in the middle she learned to simplify and streamline and her work started taking on real life; now she has a distinct and minimalist style that is totally engaging, and she hasn't lost her artist's sense of perspective or anatomy: viz.

Now, here's my work from maybe twenty-five years ago and yesterday:

 As you can see, I have progressed.... well, not at all, really.

The difference is that between #1 and #3 for Jeph and Danielle, each one produced around two or three thousand strips or drawings. Between #1 and #2 for me, not so much.

This gets back to my questions here and here about the incremental nature of development in certain spheres, and my specific concern about art - my art. Jeph and Danielle were and are both young, vigorous, and committed to their work - they were trying to parlay their strips into a living, and both have been successful. I'm old, tired, and without any guarantee of talent - I'm not sure I can bring that fire to this.

On our walk today, the Spectacular Sissy wondered how many things I can take on at once and do well, and whether art is one that will fall by the wayside. That, of course, plants the seed of doubt.

Bu then I remember: someone (not Chesterton) said that the admonition "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" is one of the greatest unintentional evils. Because there are some things - such as playing the ukulele, skateboarding, and cartooning, for example - that are worth doing whether or not we ever do them well, worth doing just for the joy of it, worth doing for their own sake.

Yeah, I like that better. Here's to one thousand crappy drawings.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mind the gap

So, you find yourself starting out on a creative endeavor, let's say drawing for example. And your best work to date is this:

a sketch of mine from about 1988

It's hard enough to move forward when you know people, such as a former writing student of yours, who are capable of stuff like this:

 Art by Patrick Connors. Man, you need a website dude.

I mean, that bar looks pretty high already, right? But then you click on a link that takes you stuff like this...

 This is a pencil drawing. Check out other mind-blowing images here.

... and you might wonder why you should even start. Then you remember something that you heard on the radio:

It was Ira Glass from This American Life.

I guess when it comes to art, I have a long gap ahead of me. Let's hope this summer closes it a little bit.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


So, anyone who read/followed/stumbled across Reflections on the Ninth Art knows that I  attended the Graphic Novel Intensive (GNI) class at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon in the summer of 2009. But long before that, in 1987, I took a drawing and cartooning class from Nils Osmar at what was then called the University of Washington Experimental College. Aside from a drawing class taken as an elective for my associate's degree in the early seventies, that is the extent of my art education. Then why an art blog? Well, because I'm going to try again.

One of my current projects, now that I have returned to an instructor's schedule and essentially have the summer off, is to work through Matt Madden and Jessica Abel's course Drawing  Words and Writing Pictures. I am going to be what Matt and jessica call a Ronin - that's their term for a student who is following the coursework in the book independently, rather than as part of a class. The sequence of instruction is structured across fifteen weeks; I hope to use the eleven weeks of my summer break to take a big bite out of the course.

As I said in connection with the GNI course, my personal intent is to work more on my draftsmanship than my writing. I have been reading comics forever and comics criticism for a long time, and my professional field is rhetoric and writing: I feel comfortable with understanding the language of comics; what I need to do is work on getting better at actually illustrating them.

I guess I could have just found a regular drawing course to increase my skills, and in fact considered that. But I thought that working with what I know and love would give me a little more incentive to stick it through, more so than random still lives and landscapes might.

And as for the blog, well, nothing keeps you more honest than going public. I'll publish my activities and homework from the DW-WP course, finished pieces from the old cartooning class, and some random stuff from in between.

And in that spirit, let's get right to it. Here are my 'realistic' faces from 1987.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First post

A drawing I made a couple of years ago, after a photograph. The guy really was leaning.