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Monthly Archives: May 2017

Word Balloons As Art

This piece of cartoon art is how people talk to each in comics: the balloon simply points to its speaker. But as we all know, we are capable of much more complicated emotions than those that result in words. That is, how can we represent three different feelings (say, fatigue, hunger, and anger) all in the same balloon? Answer: you make a complicated design in the word balloon that represents that complicated feeling.

Why should these bloated shapes that represent speech be limited to just containing words? Think out of the box (or out of the balloon, so to speak) and treat the word balloon as the frame of an illustration. Word balloons can be totally whimsical: just enjoy the process of drawing.

The Surrealists called it “Automatic Drawing”. Automatic Drawing is actually with doodling is: it’s drawing with the mind turned off. That is, the aim is the draw freely, in a way that doesn’t allow the conscious mind to censor or edit the work. Once you feel relaxed enough, and you’re able to persuade yourself that you drawing is just a sketch, the it’s okay to “make a mistake”: that’s when your artwork will look the best!

But remember, we’re not just drawing anything: we’re drawing something very specific! So draw a word balloon–go ahead! But then go back into it and doodle all over it; through it, in it, around it…have fun with it! As you go back into your drawing, scribbling and doodling, you’ll notice that your drawing will start to remind of things: mine reminded me of a turkey with its tail feathers sticking up.

Get Out of an Art Slump

1. Just play. Do not set out to create a masterpiece. Play with your colours and shapes and ideas. Play a lot. If you are creating and enjoying, that is a reward in itself. Inspiration comes from there. Setting out to make a masterpiece is the fastest way that I know of to fail.

2. Doodle. Take a pen and paper and go sit somewhere where you can doodle without an audience. Start with a word drawn on the paper. Fiddle with it. Join bits. Add twiddles. Illustrate it. Relax and let the doodle happen. If you stretch your creative mind every day, inspiration will be plentiful. Colouring in a mandala is one of my favourite versions of this, obviously.

3. Complicate things. Choose two random concepts and find ways that they are similar. How is a banana like an airplane? How is a cat like a harvesting machine? How are you like a light bulb? Now illustrate that in a way that makes you smile.

4. Limit yourself. Tell yourself that for this creation, you can only use one colour or you can only use a toothbrush to paint with or you can only use images of cats to create the image of a dog. There are an endless number of variations on this theme. It makes your brain leap sideways a little to make it happen.

5. Say something. Find a very meaningful statistic and find a way to illustrate it so that people can “get it”. For example, the USA uses about 60 million plastic straws every day – how can you make that number into a picture people might understand and then take action on?

Artful Colored Pencils


Maybe you’ve spent some time drawing–nothing much: caricatures, Disney characters, doodles, etc. Perhaps you’ve even gone so far as investing in a drawing pencil. If you did, you found out that a drawing pencil is quite different from a regular pencil. Its lead is soft and creates dark blacks, solid medium grays and ethereal light grays.

Maybe then you began to think of color, wishing your drawing pencil could be colorful as well. It can be! Out there on the market today are good quality colored pencils that respond well to shading, layering of several colors, blocking in solid colors and making sinuous, expressive lines.

The added attraction of colored pencils, beyond their soft, heavily pigmented leads and willing response to the paper, is their price. A tin of twelve, good quality colored pencils and a good quality 9″ x 12″ sketchpad will be well under twenty dollars. And you are on your way to producing beautiful, brilliant, rich colored drawings that will retain their permanency and color integrity for decades.


Now you have sharpened your colored pencils and you have your sketchpad. What’s next? Start with a doodle. On a new sketchbook page, take one color–it doesn’t matter which one) and draw swirls, lines, dots, dashes, whatever comes to mind. Cover the whole sketch book page. Just take a minute to do it.

Now look closely at the doodle you have done. See what you can find. Trees? Birds? Faces? Whatever you find, delineate the image by going over the image lines by making them darker. Good! Now choose another colored pencil color to fill in the image(s). Now think of the surrounding area of the doodle as the background or environment for your images.

You must choose certain areas to fill in with various colors. For example, if you found, in your doodle, a shape that looks like a fish, color the fish in, than color the area surrounding the fish with various colors. Keep in mind that you want to emphasize the image. How can you do this?


To emphasize the doodle image you can do several things. You can make the image very dark and then fill in the surrounding area with light colors. Or you can make the image very light and fill in the surrounding areas with dark colors. Or you can use contrasting colors, for example, red-image, blue-background–look closely to see that the image is standing out from the background. I recommend that you choose the option that will be most fun for you to do!


So you’ve done the doodles and are beginning to learn what your colored pencils can do. If you didn’t experiment with making certain areas solid colors or play around with shading several colors together, now is your chance!

With any colored pencil (color of your choice) draw a circle on a new sketchbook page. You can use a compass or a small plate or other circular object as a template to make the circle. Now imagine that light is coming down on the page from the upper right hand corner. You will want to start shading the circle with a dark color (blue, violet, brown, black) where the light isn’t–that is the left side of the circle. Start slowly, filling in along the left line of the circle. Remember that as you are shading and moving towards the source of illumination (upper right hand corner) your shading will become less. Why? Because your shading, in drawing terms, represents shadow and the white of the sketch book page represent the light.

Arts and Craft Toys

Drawing time

You can supply your child with color pencils, crayons, and washable markers to draw with. There are plenty of options as far as paper goes as well. Give them construction paper, a doodle or scribble pad, white paper from the printer, or stuffing paper from a bag purchase.

Drawing time can be themed. For example, have your child draw family or friends. You can encourage them to draw their favorite animals, or make a picture of what they want to be when they grow up. They can draw a picture of their favorite memory, or try to make an image of an item you place in front of them, like a chair or a fruit basket.

Painting time

There are two options with the kind of paint. You can buy finger paint, so they can use their hands only, or you can get paint that they need a brush for. Getting different sized brushes is a good idea. Thick paper is best for this activity. A large canvas can be exciting for a little one, if you have the space. It is also a good idea for your child to wear old clothes, or a smock so that they don’t ruin their nice things.

Let the children use the imagination. They can paint an abstract artistic piece that may not represent anything particular. They will enjoy playing with the colors and just expressing themselves. This can also be a color lesson. You can show them how to mix colors to make new ones; for example, mixing blue and yellow creates green.