Dabbling with Drawing

Thursday, February 10, 2022
Monday Marcia showed us all how she blacks out newspaper or magazine articles to create inspirational black out poems. Her post inspired me to write about my own recent inspiration which has has come in the form of drawing, and it all started with a WOW! Women on Writing Class. 

I’ve got a mostly finished graphic novel sitting in my file cabinet. I’m not going to admit how long is has been missing only a satisfying ending, but I’d really like to wrap it up and send it out. When I saw Melanie Faith’s graphic novel class I didn’t hesitate to sign up in spite of the fact that she expects us to draw. 

Really? How serious could she be? After all, we’re writers. 

And yet each week our assignments include a drawing component. I have no interest in illustrating my graphic novel but I do have an idea for a comic strip. With only three characters, it seemed do-able so I started drawing my cats. Fortunately they are both black which keeps the details to a minimum. 

Between Melanie and our text books, I’ve learned a few tricks including roughing out a drawing upside down. Work from a photo, rotate it 180 degrees and draw. Briefly, it works because you look more closely at the shapes instead of just drawing what you think you see. All I know is that my three best drawings were all roughed upside down. 

But our comics and graphic novels won’t be just our characters so we had to add things that would likely appear multiple times. Mine? My coffee cup. Seriously, I roughed the one on the right upside down and the one on the left right-side up. Why can I only draw upside down? 

In spite of this quirk, I’ve been sketching several days a week. I’m not a master and haven’t developed my own style yet, but I’m having fun and even managed to draw rightside up. I use prompts supplied by Bardot Brush. The chances that eithers cattle or ducks will make an appearance in my comic are virtually nil but inking up a barnyard full of beasts is a fun start to my day. 

Is this going to feed directly into my work as a writer? Maybe no, but maybe yes. I really like the idea for the comic that I’ve developed in the class. I feel confident that I can handle single panels even if I’m not capable of creating dozens of panels to illustrate my own graphic novel manuscript. 

And drawing is teaching me to look at more closely at the world around me. This will feed into better descriptions in my writing. Who knows? Maybe one day a cow will stroll into my story and, by my description, you’ll know if it is a Hereford, a longhorn, or a Highland cow. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 30 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on March 6, 2022).  Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins March 6, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins March 6, 2022). 


Angela Mackintosh said...

SueBE! Your drawings are delightful. That one of the cat walking away is excellent. You really captured the movement beautifully. I would get that tattooed! It's adorable. :)

You're onto something with drawing upside down. I don't remember that being an exercise in art school, but it's a smart idea because it tricks your mind to think less logically, more creatively, and focus on shape. I've seen graphic novels/memoir with all kinds of drawings in them, and you could totally illustrate your own graphic novel--your drawings are great!

I'll have to check out those prompts.

Marcia Peterson said...

I wish I could draw. Your art is very good (and fun)! That's a great tip you shared about rotating from a photo.

Keep sketching, Sue!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Angela,

Thank you! I'm having a lot of fun with it. I'm still not sure about attempting an entire manuscript. You'll have to keep nudging me.

Hi Marcia,

Thank you! I do try to focus on things that are a little silly.

The technique I saw today was to draw with your non-dominant hand for ten minutes. When you switch back to your dominant hand, your drawing will be looser. I'm afraid my dominant had would just have an attitude.

Renee Roberson said...

This post brought back memories of how I used to love to sketch as a kid. Somewhere along the way I stopped doing it because I felt like a talentless hack but I think it's a great way to keep our brains sharp! I'll have to try this upside down trick and see if I get anywhere with it. While there's no way I'll ever be able to illustrate a comic or graphic novel, it would be a fun creative outlet. Your drawings are great!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you! Honestly, I never felt like I had enough talent to bother. Teachers said my work was "too literal."

Now I'm going to want to see what you draw! Don't think I'll forget.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I seriously thought the cat walking away was like the pro drawing and the other two were your practice drawings. And then the drawings got even better!

I think this is brilliant, Sue, and can't wait to see your comic strip! A graphic novel called "Dots!" is more my speed. :-)

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