Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sketchnoting and Comics Workshop with Big Read Educators

About two weeks ago, I had the wonderful good fortune to do a short workshop with local educators who are participating in the NEA Big Read Lakeshore program. 

The Big Read program coordinates one community reading one book at the same time.  The Lakeshore program includes all kinds of amazing programs, classes, speakers, opportunities as we read Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven.

I got to think with the educators about how to incorporate comics and sketchnotes in classrooms at all levels.

We had a lot of fun thinking about how combining the verbal and the visual aids learning, thinking, and communication.  It helps students pay attention, synthesize material, consider what they value, and think about the relation of things as they design a page.

In a few days I'm doing a public workshop on making comics! Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Covers and Title are So Hard for Me

Having finished the zine I share in the last post, I realized I needed to make a cover.

Covers are always hard for me.

Mostly because they involve titles, which I have been lousy at my whole life.

And then there's the inside of the front, and the inside of the back, and then the need to do something clever with the outside back cover.

I so admire the artists I've watch confidently doodle these lovely, inviting designs, with enticing typography, lines that move from front to back, from outside to inside, wrapping the content of the book itself in a separate, artistic blanket.

Me, not so much.

But I share here the cover I did come up with (because I was on a deadline and I needed something!).

Outside Front Cover

Inside Front Cover

Inside Back Cover
Outside Back Cover

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Go To Dinner, Get a Zine...

When I attended a low residency comics workshop earlier this month at SAW (the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, Florida), I got to go to dinner with Tom Hart, who runs SAW, my fellow comics memoirist, Jesse, and my spouse.

Shop talk ensued.   I told the others a story about something that had happened to me while researching my story.

At the end of the conversation, Tom said something to me like "THIS conversation, the way it just happened, should go in your comic."

I needed a topic for an 8-page mini-comic challenge that I and another artist had given to ourselves, so I grabbed at this.

For the next two days, I sketched, scripted, inked, colored, printed, folded, and stapled (all in between lectures and other workshop assignments).  I did all the work on my iPad Pro in Procreate.

The result held together very nicely, I think.

Not sure if it works entirely as a stand alone zine (since it offers no explanation of the blackout or of "finding the body"), but I really like it as a discreet episode!  It has potential to fit right into the longer work!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Seeing Your Thoughts in Your Surroundings

Earlier this month at the comics low residency workshop I took at SAW (the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, FL), one of the things I worked on was getting more visual metaphor into my memoir sketches.

Warning:  I'm working on a memoir that includes my finding a deceased person in the woods while walking my dogs one day. 

Anyhow, this sketch is one which resulted, and which I liked very much.  I think it will inspire some future work!

Loads of thought exists on the notion that we see in our environments that which we expect to see there.  How we, to an extent, create our own realities in this way.  If we are intent on all the evil that exists in our world for example, it can become all we can see.  We miss the good that also exists.

I know I'm guilty of this.  I"m not sure it's a good thing in real life.

But in art, I think using this to depict a character, that character's thoughts, that character's relationship with her reality, can really open up some interesting possibilities!  It's a little like finding shapes and objects in the clouds--only we also get to draw the clouds.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Sketchnotes as Speaker Notes

I've given loads of talks in my thirty years in higher education.  But only recently have I started to use sketchnotes as my speaker notes!  Doing so has changed not only how I prepare for my talks, but has given me a lot more freedom during my talks as well.

Here is an example of a sketchnote I used as part of a workshop I led earlier this week to a lively group of K-12 educators on using visual/verbal techniques (like sketchnotes and comics) in the classroom.

As a tool for notetaking, sketchnotes asks you to focus on the big picture.  This technique asks you to listen actively, to evaluate what you are hearing or reading as you encounter it.  After all, you can't sketchnote everything you hear!

So, when you sketchnote, you need to ask:  What seems most important to you?  How do the important pieces of information relate to each other?  What are the patterns in the information you hear?

This method helps learners really grasp the information more completely and clearly!  It is much more effective than a student simply struggling to write down everything they can from a speaker's talk or from a textbook chapter.

I'm discovering that creating sketchnotes to prepare to give a talk has all of the same benefits!  It helped me to sift through all of the information I had, identify what is most important, think about how it all fits together and relates to each other, and see if I could construct any patterns.

In creating sketchnotes for a talk, I find myself asking how I can speak in a way that would help my listeners make better, more clear sketchnotes of my talk!

And while I might have additional notes with me for quotations or dates or other specifics, I keep a one-page sketchnoted outline in front of me as I speak, to remind me of the big picture, and to help my learners see it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Low Residency Workshop at SAW

Last week I had the great good fortune to participate in a Low Residency Workshop at SAW--the Sequential Artists Workshop, in Gainesville, Florida.

Here, I sat around the table for a week with comics makers from Florida, Michigan, New York, New Orleans, Kuwait, Australia, North Carolina!  Everyone came with ideas.  Some came with projects in process.  We all brought the goodnesses of our creative spirits and wisdoms to share.

Here's a shot of me sharing the collage comic I'd just finished.  It involves Batman (which you might have guessed).

There is nothing more fun, I'm discovering, than a comics workshop.  Look at all the art on the table!!!  All the art supplies!  Look at all the comic books in the library behind us.

Interested in working in comics, but not sure how or where to start?  Check out SAW's online classes and resources.  Some are free.  Some are pay what you can.  Or consider the next in person weeklong workshop in March or May 2019. 

I'll post some shots of the work I created there when I get things scanned in properly.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Learning from Hatke

Now and then I sit and copy ideas from a graphic novel I admire.

And I really admire the work of Ben Hatke.  I recently read Mighty Jack and the Goblin King.    In the course of that story I noticed some images that could inspire some of my own drawings on the memoir I'm working on.

So I copied them, modifying them to look like me (and not so much like the character Jack). 

Continuing my work of copying and modifying... I used a car drawing from the book and transformed it to my station wagon.