A Little Queasy

Yesterday was a rollercoaster day that started at 9 am and ended close to midnight with me curled up, in tears, wondering "what have I done!?"

Don't check email... don't check email... agh. I checked. Continuances on continuances on pre-trials for trials on petitions for... good grief. It reminds me of that ancient song by Alan Sherman "...a genuine copy of a fake Dior..." After enough time passes, it's hard to remember what the original intent was. But the result of looking at this particular email was that I felt "old" and separate from my classmates. I don't think any of them are married, have children or have Exes.

So I walked into Day Three feeling lonely and wondering how everyone else had all seemed to bond overnight!?

Cartoon Studio with Jason Lutes started out with a great exercise that helped me feel more a part of the group. The intent was to help us understand the importance of Clarity and Simplification to get the point of an image across.

We divided up into teams (thank you!) and were given a slip of paper - one of ours read : "An astronaut and an Eskimo aboard a Viking ship about to go over a waterfall." We then had 2 minutes to discuss, as a team, exactly what elements should be drawn. Then 30 seconds... 30 SECONDS!!!... for one of us (me) to draw them.

The images were shown on the projector and the other teams yelled out what they were seeing. We got points for how much of the original phrase we could convey. Kind of like Pictionary on speed. It was really fun and very stressful. Good for team spirit - at least in our case - we won!

I ran back to the apartment for about 15 minutes of lunch break. Dang, checked the email... but this time it was mom saying she'd bring Lilah up for a quick visit and dinner - between classes. OK. I was going to take a nap, but I was really missing my kid, so - I can do this, right?

Back at class, we had Steve Bissette again for part two of Cartooning Studio. He told us some great stories from his comic life and walked us through a few horror stories he'd drawn. In detail. We learned a lot about pacing and doling out clues to the reader and how comics are basically diagrams, directing the reader where to go, what to look at and how to see the images. Then he completely blew our minds showing us how to use brush and ink to make realistic forest scenes, trees, ferns... and said we should go observe and draw some trees. Right.

Mind blown, introversion completely expended, in need of a nap and food... and maybe a long weekend by myself... I went to meet Mom and Lilah at the apartment.

Wednesdays have never been the greatest days for Lilah. We call them "transition" days. Transformation Days might be more accurate. Whenever she moves between households, she is just a little "off." But it was nice to hang out with her and we had delicious Turkish food at Tuckerbox. Everyone was tired as we walked back under a huge threatening rain cloud. They took off to try and outrun the rain and I fell over onto the couch for half an hour or so.

By 8pm, I was back in the classroom - which now had all the second years too, popcorn smells, freezing cold AC and what turned out to be a three hour silent movie called "Way Down East". It was from 1921 and starred a very young Lillian Gish and was filmed here in White River Junction. It was sexist, racist, completely implausible, and at times, very funny. But I found myself praying that it would end soon... then the screen flashed "part II" and I thought I would SCREAM!! No, I couldn't just sneak out. Yes, I did seriously consider it.

When it finally ended, I fled. That's how I ended up wondering what I had gotten myself into? How I was going to do this every day? There's no time to recharge my introvert batteries. I think I have made a terrible mistake!

But this morning I woke up with the guilty thought - I don't have to go to Movie Nights. Yes, they teach us about storyline and how to "direct" our comics. I do love movies. But I kind of hate old movies. Now I hate them more. And the next few weeks are focused on Horror Movies. Which I truly dislike. I will try to give myself permission to pass on them for the time being so that I don't implode in the other classes.

The Universe chose to reinforce my decision to back off a little by sending me an early Birthday present. Actually, it was my sister, Jenny, who sent it, but the big box outside my door re-ground-ed me.

Yes - my sister knows me well! She sent me the Egyptian Scooby-Doo Lego set (brand new - I still need the other sets... hint, hint) and a GIANT Lego head! I know! Everyone needs one of these, right?! It actually is a Lego brick sorter, but I just love it as an art object and a thing of beauty. Sigh.

"OK, today is going to be just fine."

I spent three hours drawing a very nice, very flexible, naked lady. Learned about gesture and grounding - not through use of Lego - but with plumb bobs and charcoal. I also learned that, although it's been more than 20 years since I studied life drawing, I do better (mentally) in class when I can draw and move, than sitting in a lecture. Duh. No real surprise there. I knew I couldn't sit still - I'd just forgotten what Hell it could be to sit for 3-6 hours on end.

We aren't allowed to take any photos (naked model, privacy, and all that), but you can see one done by the teacher, Bill Scavone, on his website, Kestrel Studio. He's a medical illustrator. (A really good example of Applied Cartooning!)

Phew. I imagine you are all exhausted too, right? But there's still one more class in the afternoon...

Our first Visiting Artist was David Sipress, a very funny cartoonist for The New Yorker.

In the picture above, David Sipress is on the far left. And the celebrity on the right, is Ed Koren, an even MORE famous New Yorker cartoonist! I sat behind him!

Actually, there were quite a few cartoonists who came to the Visiting Artist Seminar. The place was packed. David Sipress' presentation was quite a joy - it was like stand-up comedy, with pictures. It felt really good to laugh that hard.


One of the best bits of advice he gave - after being asked where he gets his ideas from - was to use your anxiety and obsessions. The things you worry about and think about late at night instead of sleeping. Those things are really funny - or at least they make great gags.

This is one of my favorites - and very appropriate to the situation:

cartoon from the New Yorker, ┬ęDavid Sipress

One more workshop this week - all about using Strathmore Papers (I hear there will be free samples - yum!) Then I flee back to Warner where I hope to get ALL my homework done, sleep for hours, do my laundry and raid my art supplies.