Brain, Meatballs, Subway sandwich, and Piano


Brain, Meatballs, Subway sandwich, and Piano

The four × four drawing exercise from Lynda Barry is a variation on an Ivan Brunetti exercise. It goes something like this:

  • Select four things from a daily diary entry. They need to be neither too simple nor too complicated to draw.

  • Use a non-photo blue pencil and draw the objects in the first column, 45 seconds per drawing.

  • Draw the objects again, this time in a different order and from different perspectives in the other three columns. 45 seconds per drawing.

  • Spend some time and draw a frame around each, ink them in and add colour.

Change Makers


Working in the studio
pen and watercolour

On Friday, I attended the last workout for the Change Makers program I’ve been fortunate to be part of (thank you, Wellington City Council).

As part of the day, the dozen participants each gave a five-minute presentation with the structure There - Here - There. The format involves looking back to where you were before the Change Makers course, looking at where you are now, and looking forward to where you want to be.

The drawing above is one of the two I made for the Here part of my talk. Despite experiencing a bit of wobbly leg syndrome while giving my talk, it went really well.

What a course, what a group of people, and what a day!



Colouring-in of a Ferris wheel.


When was the last time you earnestly used crayons and did some colouring-in?

Me, I must have been a kid.

While crayons require effort (smooth paper isn’t ideal for crayons - paper with a tooth is better), I’ve enjoyed colouring over the last week. Some colours go on easy; others offer a waxy transparent resistance. And there are the internal logic games at play; do I try to use every one of my 24 colours or limit myself to specific colours? It’s a fascinating process.

Different materials enable and require different solutions and ways of thinking. It’s easy to see how elements from these pictures could cross-pollinate other areas of my practice.

And yes, I’m pleased with the horizontal stripes in the background of the Ferris wheel – totally unexpected and somehow exciting.

Syllabus, sketchbooks and everything


Cafe cacophony

Drawings of two paracetamol and a list of colours.

Paracetamol and a list of colours

Drawings of a dog, a head with glasses, doodles, and small milk jug all interwoven.

Café drawings

Sketchbook drawings of simple figures in blue pencil.

Sketchbook drawings of simple figures.

“Bubblehead” drawings (figures in the style of Ivan Brunetti)

I’ve rediscovered my sketchbook after reading Lynda Barry and her book Syllabus.

As an experiment, I’m following some of the outlines for the classes she has taught over the year, including colouring using crayons and drawing figures based on Ivan Brunetti’s instructions on making a figure from simple shapes.

A significant part of her classes includes keeping a sketchbook. Barry has her students use a “composition book”. These books are cheap notebooks with equally cheap paper. Barry encourages her students to take them everywhere and add receipts, snippets of conversation, beer mats, doodles, to-do lists, notes, and anything and everything.

All the different aspects of a student’s world get captured, cross-pollinate, and well, that is when the unexpected starts to emerge…

What it is


Detail from What It Is by Lynda Barry.

Over the last week or so, I’ve enjoyed reading and doing the writing exercises in Lynda Barry’s book, “What It Is”.

In the exercises towards the end of the book, Barry takes the reader through a simple process of generating an image, orienting yourself within that image, and then writing from within the image in the present tense.

The exercise can easily be built upon and tweaked, for example: writing from someone else’s perspective from within your story rather than your own, writing in the 2nd person or 3rd person.

I’ve also made a word bag (which, as it sounds, is a bag of words). Random words from the bag are used as a catalyst in the writing exercises. At some point, I may create a bag of images. These, too, will be used to stimulate the writing process.

So far, I’m enjoying doing something creatively different, with some structure, and perhaps most importantly, doing something for no reason.