Imaginative Drawing is a beginning-level drawing class. It is one of my favorite classes to teach, and I’ll teach it again this winter at the Lawrence Arts Center. This class begins on Monday, January 9, 2023, and meets each Monday evening for eight weeks, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
The class is based on drawing prompts and exercises that we do together each week in our own sketchbook-journals. By the end of the eight-week session, we’ll use what we’ve learned to begin creating a drawing-related work of art in any medium we choose, as a finished piece.
For the first few weeks of class, we’ll explore drawing as making expressive marks on a page using all kinds of pens, pencils, and other mark-makers. We’ll make comic-style “timed” drawings as a way to doodle, and we’ll also doodle by building up a series of spontaneous lines that eventually turn into pictures and patterns. We’ll “noodle” our doodles, using a controlled hand to create a finished look by adding color, texture, and shading. We’ll make drawings that are based on observation, drawing the objects and people that we see, as we see them. We’ll consider how observational-drawing informs imaginative-drawing, and vice-versa.
Sometimes we’ll draw at drawing “stations” where we choose from a menu of exercise options, staying for as little or as long as we want to at a station. These sorts of exercises will focus on stretching, distorting, or abstracting images that we’ll draw from observation. On a different station-day we’ll explore the use of “randomness” as the basis for making something new: random squiggles on a page, random cracks in the sidewalk, or random shapes of clouds can provide the building blocks for making faces, creatures, or monsters. Each week we learn something new about the creative process. Along the way we’ll ask the question, Where do creative ideas come from? We’ll engage exercises that seem to get to the heart of creativity, bringing disparate ideas together in ways that are new. We’ll also learn about how to keep a sketchbook-journal, using artist Corita Kent’s focus on the journal as a “sense diary,” and cartoonist Lynda Barry’s “daily diary” formats to bring words and images together. Towards the end of the eight-week session, we’ll discuss composition, that is, how to arrange the elements in our drawings with attention to the drawing as a whole. We’ll then imagine a drawing that we would like to make, plan it, and make it.
A writer-friend who took Imaginative Drawing several years ago recently said about this class on Facebook: “Take this class! About two hours ago, I pulled out my sketchbook from the class. It is part brain health, part creativity, part stress relief.” And I would contend that the class is also a way for students to build confidence in their drawing abilities and to learn imaginative drawing skills to be used in art forms as different as comics and quilting.
I strive to create a warm atmosphere where students will feel encouraged and comfortable drawing in ways that are new. While I encourage students to share their work with others in class, because there is so much to learn from each other’s experiments, I also make it clear that no one is ever required to share; “passing” is always an option. And homework is optional, too.
Winter classes begin during the first full week in January. Register now for Winter session. Senior discounts and financial aid are available. Register either on-line or at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, KS, phone 785.843.2787. To register for “Imaginative Drawing” on-line, visit http://enroll.lawrenceartscenter.org/adult-visual-arts/paintng-drawing/event/8342
I really enjoyed facilitating my class called Drawing Stories, an introduction to drawing comics, this past Fall at the Lawrence Arts Center. I say “facilitated” instead of “taught” because the real teachers of my class are the comic artists whose drawing exercises we use, artists who have written interesting and influential books on creating comics, among them Lynda Barry, Scott McCloud, Ivan Brunetti, and Jessica Abel and Matt Madden.
I squeeze a lot into the eight two-hour sessions, so much so that I will probably make this a twelve-week class in the future. In Drawing Stories, we learn by doing. We keep a sketchbook-journal with drawing exercises and experiments in it. Then we share our work and learn from each other, supporting each other as we go. And yet no one is ever required to share their work, because we all have different comfort levels with that.
In the first class, we experiment with doodling and drawing, playing around with different pens and pencils, and finding a simple visual vocabulary for communicating our first ideas. We draw stories without words at first, then bring words into the mix, considering the unique ways that words and pictures work together. By week four, we’re thinking about characters and how to draw them, how each character’s expressions, gestures, clothes, and environment reflect who they are and what they’re up to. In other sessions we focus on the varying grid formats available for a single page comic, how the eye flows from one panel to the next, and how one might visually transition from scene to scene in a story. We practice techniques, too, such as penciling, inking, lettering, and making titles and word bubbles.
The most fun we have, though, are the times when we make collaborative comics — a “comic jam.” We use plain old copier paper for this, dividing each piece of paper into a grid of nine panels. Everyone has a grid-page in front of them with an attached “parameter,” a theme or principle that each artist must follow to guide the learning process as well as the form or content of each one-page comic. Each student draws the first panel on their comic-page and then hands it over to someone else in a willy-nilly fashion, until everyone has drawn at least one panel of each comic before we trade and draw some more, until all nine panels are filled. Some examples of the kinds of parameters we’ve used include: “no words,” “dialogue only,” “start at the end and draw the panel before the last one,” and “write a caption for the next panel.” But these are just a few examples, the possibilities are endless, and the laughs are, too.
Note: Individual student comics are shared with permission from each student. Click on each to enlarge for better viewing. Artists are, from top to bottom: Michael Galvin, Grace Wise, Class Comic Jam, James Adaryukov, Casey Carlile, and Jill Rohde.
I made this piece for the recent online exhibit, Just Imagine, that Cooperation Humboldt’s Arts and Cultural team (based in California) debuted during the Arts Dismantling Capitalism Symposium, “to bring together our local community and beyond to collectively create a more just, regenerative economy and society.” Â
I am excited to offer a new drawing class this Fall called Drawing in Black and White — a class that I hope will be both interesting and fun. This introductory-level class is intended to introduce students to drawing techniques using ballpoint pen, ink pens, cut paper, and scratchboard. We’ll draw from observation and imagination, build confidence in our skills, and discover the expressive power of making art in black and white.
During class we’ll doodle and practice with all manner of pens. We’ll draw from observation and “map” areas of light and dark on the page to create the illusion of space. We’ll consider the unique qualities of our various media by practicing techniques specific to each. We’ll practice shading using a ballpoint pen, similar to sketching with a pencil. We’ll create areas of dark and light in a
different way using pen and ink, layering lines and strokes to create different tones. We’ll cut black and white paper into shapes to explore the interaction between positive and negative space, exploring the black-white design principle calledÂ Notan. We’ll discover how different it feels to draw with a white pen on a black background, and we’ll use that knowledge to “cut” a drawing using an old illustrator’s media called scratchboard. All the while we’ll summon the creative process to help us investigate our world through drawing.
The arts center will provide each student with a sketchbook to use in and outside of class and a variety of pens and paper to use during class. I strive to create a supportive environment each session, and this class is appropriate for beginners and anyone else who wants to try something new.Â Contact the Arts Center front desk with questions about senior discounts and financial aid.
Fall registration is going on now. This class will meet on Wednesday evenings for 12 weeks, beginning on September 11, 6:30-8:30pm. Register in person at the Lawrence Arts Center (940 New Hampshire St.,Â Lawrence, KS) or on-line at this link.Â Iâ€™m looking forward to this new class, an introduction to techniques for making expressive drawings in black and white.â€“Lora Jost
I am pleased to have this illustration in Lawrence Magazine for a story about the Douglas County Corrections Facility’s writing program, in its current issue (Winter 2016). Tonight, December 5, 2016, there will be a related poetry reading and exhibit at the Lawrence Public Library, 7pm.
Here is a link to Lawrence Magazine on line.Â Find the story “Taking On Life” on p. 73, an artist profile of me on p. 33, and my illustration on pp. 76-77.