Tuesday, July 15, 2014

June Journal Pages

Here are my pages for Journal52 - I'm trying to keep up with July's and forgot to post June's!

Week 22 - Traveling

This is my favorite way to travel... by book. But that might just be because I have never gone first class. Next time I go to Egypt, I would love to see it from the luxury-travel point of view. I've been-there-done-that as "family trip," "archaeology student," and "tourists packed into a motorcoach." Maybe it's a bit shallow of me, but I want to know my salad hasn't been served to someone before me, and my mattress is 100% synthetic - not one bit of camel hair included! ;-) I don't mind get dusty and sweaty climbing through tombs and pyramids, but at the end of the day, I want a clean shower in a safe hotel.

This drawing was done with a UniPin pen, Tombow and Koi markers, and a waterbrush.

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Week 23 - Passion

Passion... I am actually struggling with this very thing right now. I know when I am excited about something, but I can't seem to make a list of passions to help me decide what to focus on... So I did a journal page more on the topic of what "Passion" feels like to me. Parts are a bit muddy, but this is not meant to be negative - there's a lot of cool colors and patterns in there.

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew
 I used Tombow markers to draw the word "Passion," then coated it with a Gelly Glaze pen and drew all the designs with the Glaze pen too. Then I poured acrylic inks over it. Let it dry, drew more with the Glaze pen, added more ink. Finally, I drew the other words, and outlined "Passion" with a white Souffle pen. Seemed kind of symbolic since it started out nice and clean and pretty - and ended up looking like a mess. But that is what I had intended.

Week 24 - Courage 

I saw this prompt one morning as I was panic-ing about an upcoming meeting. I was trying to distract myself by scanning email and was drawn to this quote in a post from the FoodBabe: 

"First they ignore you, 
then they laugh at you, 
then they fight you, 
then you win." 
- Mahatma Gandhi 

And I realized that was the path of my entire marriage. And my divorce. Except for the actual legal part of the proceedings... we didn't "fight". And that's where I lost. I knew what was right, what I "should" do, but I lost my courage. 

I'm not sure why this popped into my head as a "comic" - maybe the irony? 
It's drawn with a UniPin pen and colored with Tombow markers.

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew
Week 25  - Nature Inspired

I guess life inspires art.
I wasn't picturing anything for this prompt except pretty landscapes, etc. But I don't DO pretty landscapes. So I was stuck.

Then one day, I had just returned home from an awful meeting and was trying to decide if I should just sit in my carport and cry? I didn't want to bring all my yuck-brain into my house. 

As I sat,  I realized I was watching a very pretty spider wrap a much larger, very ugly spider, in her web. I was fascinated, and strangely encouraged. "If she can do it - I can do it." Plus... the image would work for this week's journal homework. Yeah!

The whole piece is done in watercolors. I was going to say "No spiders were harmed in the making of this piece..." but, well... that's just not true. 
© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Week 26 - Under the Sea

Materials: crayons and small children
I spent the day at a Garden Party. I felt out of place among the big people (I never know what to talk about!) Then, I saw two small tables with tiny chairs and crayons and piles of white paper and tiny people...OMG... my tribe! Along with my daughter, my nieces, and some other random little boys - we drew lots of horses, unicorns, seahorses, unicorn-seahorses... and mermaids. This one was my favorite! (I'm completely in love with my daughter's seahorses!) 

When I saw this week's prompt, I was SO excited! 
I've GOT this!! Yeah!

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Since I had quite a bit of...assistance... with this piece, I thought I should include a piece I did on my own as well. The day after the Mermaid fiesta, I drew this one with a Papermate ballpoint pen while my daughter tried, unsuccessfully, to displace all the water from the hotel pool!

© Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Wow - we are halfway through the year - how crazy is that? I'm hoping I can keep motivating myself to make these journal pages!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blip, Bleep! >Sigh< - Comic Camp

The >Sigh< is because today was the last day of my comic adventure. But it was a great way to end it. Marek Bennett spoke for most of the day with a presentation after lunch by Cara Bean. Marek had been tutoring my son in Spanish for years so I know how multi-talented he is... languages, musician, world-traveler... cartoonist. He also travels to Nicaragua and draws with the younger kids who aren't out working on the coffee production.

He led us in some exercises that would work great in a classroom. But they would also work well with reluctant adults!

One of my favorites was to start by folding a paper into 8 sections. Each person makes a random doodle shape in one box, then passes the paper to the person on their left. Everyone makes another shape in a box and passes it to their left. This continues until all boxes have some kind of mark/shape in them. The papers are passed one more time. Then each person looks at the shapes on their page until they start to see some kind of image emerging. We added Faces, Action, Text, and Settings (F.A.T.S.) to change the doodle shapes into tiny comics or characters.

Then we created a three panel page. We could choose to do it with the big box on the top... with a large Setting to begin, then an Action, then a Result in the last box. Or flipped over, these with two Detail shots and then a Result shot in the big box. I chose the second one.

I took the birds from the first two boxes of the first exercise (did you notice that all my doodles turned into birds of some kind?) and the action from the 6th box. In this new page, the birds are attracted to each other - one is stunned, the other, a bit shy. But, together, they are unstoppable on the dance floor!

We also created a little strip to show what we would like to do with comics. In my case, I'd like to work with younger kids to write and illustrate their stories and turn them into little comics. Marek showed us how to make very cute, very simple, teeny comic books out of one sheet of paper. Here's a link to a site that is a great resource if you are interested in one sheet comic books.

My favorite take-away from Cara Bean's presentation was that it is very important for the teachers to practice cartooning - not just the students. It changes your outlook on life... not only can you communicate information with your students, but really crazy days and incidents become fodder for your own comics! Her blog is Bad Gigi and she started an illustration class and comic book art club at her school in Lexington, MA. The students became so passionate about comics, they started their own convention, called "Lexicon" (held in May each year) and they have some big names in the industry join them for the two days.

And speaking of kids... here's a picture of my Lilah showing her own comics to Marek. He's seen her work before (when he was tutoring my son), but Lilah has learned a lot this week about comics. Although she wasn't officially IN the camp, she spent a lot of time hearing about projects and exercises (and trying them out), using a dip pen to ink her comics, and lots of time in the comic library. She is working on a comic about a girl from India, who goes to Germany and then takes a boat to the US. Her drawings of the Statue of Liberty are adorable. Her character has very sweet braids and the details in her scenes are mind-blowing. She has a scene of a decrepit playground and all the rungs on the ladders (monkey bars and slides) are split in two and pointing every which way.

She wants to do some more work on it, but when it is finished we'll scan it and put it on her blog. She wants to make some mini-comics of it too.

 Looks like I achieved more than my own goals this week! I wanted to get inspired, get back to pursuing my love of comics and sequential art, get a taste of what going to this school would be like, and learn how to get kids motivated to write and draw using comics. I'd say I could definitely check off the entire list!

If you get the chance to attend a program or workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies, go for it. You won't regret it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Zip! Squeeee! - Comic Camp

We finally got to hold our comics in our hot little hands! To recap - yesterday, we had two hours to draw our page and ink it. We went from brainstorming the story, characters, etc. right through to silkscreening and assemble... in one day. Phew. Today we did a critique of the pages.

Here's the front and back covers:

Here's a collage of some parts of interior pages by various classmates:

And here is mine, page 16, the FINAL page:

 And a couple close-ups:

The evil doctor, Snackenstein, gets pulled up into the disco ball by the ghost of Lord Clefer. It snaps shut behind them. In the next scene Miss Terry, the sleuth, is back on the train, having solved the problem of the Zombie food and the grateful Danceylvanians are dancing her off at the station. Frankfort, the dog, has eaten way too much de-zombie-fied food. Yes. It IS a very strange story!

 Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I did illustrate my notes this week:

After the critique, we had a great presentation from Steve Bissette about producing, distributing and marketing our comics. He gave us all copies of his comic, Tyrant, and I got mine signed.

 Although he draws mostly monsters, he draws them SO well. And I grew up reading Swamp Thing and seeing his name on the covers. It is just so cool to have had two classes with him this week. (He also did the post-apocalyptic movie night). It was sad to have the camp end. :-( And most are headed back to their regular lives. A few of us are continuing with the Symposium.

During lunch - I FINALLY got to walk around the corner and visit Vermont Salvage. Amazing place filled with reclaimed clawfoot tubs, doors, weird furniture, doorknobs.... I saw so many things I wanted to photograph and sketch. And a few things I wanted to own!

The antique train is parked at the train station. It provides an incredible contrast to the Amtrak trains screeching by and the train that pulls the huge packs from the paper mill.

Then, it was time for Part Two of the comic adventure. This one is more theory, not drawing. The Symposium for Applied Cartooning is geared toward teachers and librarians and how to use comics and cartooning in the classroom. I am really intrigued by "Applied" cartooning and want to learn more about it.

As an aside, two asides... 1. My Zentangle for Kids! book is now part of the Schulz Library collection! Woohoo! and 2. Although I have no need for another tote bag, these we pretty cute. Linus is on the other side. Someday, I might write a comic book about all the retreats and conventions I've been too, called "Yet Another Tote Bag."

The keynote was by James Sturm who founded the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2005. He did an interesting lecture on the history of Haiti (none of which I knew) and then told a story about a Haitian hobo and his monkey in White River Junction, fruit from Haiti that came through on the train, voodoo curses, lost comic artwork, and bizarre serendipitous events. All to illustrate how a good story can pique the listener's interest, make them care about something (like the history of Haiti) and intrigue them enough to do more research to learn what is fact or fiction.

We had some discussions, varying opinions, about how to plan a curriculum and the validity of using fiction with kids who are increasingly susceptible to believing everything they hear and see (I don't believe that) and how to get people to draw comic images, even if they don't believe they can draw. Ed Emberley was mentioned because he uses shapes and icons to represent characters and objects and anyone can draw his shapes. Comics are about telling a story, not just illustrating a picture, so the quality and detail of the images are not as important as getting the story across.

 Later, for her birthday dinner, we took my mom out to Elixir's, an upscale restaurant, with no childrens' menu, but farm to table food. I can't even describe how delicious the food was, but Lilah gobbled down everything in front of her (as did mom and I!). I'm sure you are very curious to see what our deserts looked like? They were so pretty we had to take pictures before we would dare to eat them. Lilah noticed that each was served on a different shaped plate!

Bananas Foster cake with toasted cinnamon ice cream and caramel-something sauce, on a square plate...

 So good!

 Chocolate-almond-something cake ice cream sandwich on a rectangular plate...

Yes. So, SO good!

 And mom had strawberry-pineapple (?) sorbet on a triangular plate...

Even the ice cream was made at Elixir's.
I think we all felt like the dog in the last panel of the comic book! (see above).
But very happy. :-)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ka-zaAM! - Comic Camp

If there were an AP test for Comic Book Design... today would have been that exam.

We spent the morning learning the Old School (photocopies) and the New School (InDesign and Photoshop) methods of creating the actual, printed and bound, comic books.

Then, after lunch, we got really serious!

We learned about World designing. We created the history, economy, fashion, language, flora and fauna for a town known as "Danceylvania" (rhymes with "Transylvania"). Everything had a dance theme or pun and a touch of the sinister.

Next, we were given some characters, the main one being Miss Terry, a young sleuth, as well as the villain, some Zombie food invading the Danceylvania town, and the title... "Miss Terry and the Midnight Snack". And then we were each assigned a page number (I was 16 - that's the last page of the comic!) We ALL brainstormed and worked our way through each page determining where each page began and ended in the plotline. The best part happened when the teachers all "performed" the story back to us. It was so funny - I wish it had been videotaped.

And then...

Our teacher yelled "Go!"

We had from 2:30 to 4:30pm to layout, sketch, ink and clean up our entire page!  By 4:00, my hands were shaking so much my lines got wiggly, and I had to pee something fierce.

At 4:30pm they yelled "Pens down!" And we all ran for the bathroom and then trudged off to dinner.

When we returned, it was to learn about silkscreening the covers. They had been photocopied onto purple paper and then we screen-printed the white letters and details on top. The white glows in the dark!!! How cool is that?

After our assembly line... assembling the comics... we gawked at our masterpieces laid out on the ping-pong table. So beautiful.... sigh. BUT we were NOT allowed to take a copy. No, no. Tomorrow we would get them. I think it's to ensure that everyone shows up for the last class! Good thinking.
Shown above are our teachers, John Chad, in orange shirt, and, in purple, Beth Hetland (who teaches at the Art Institute in Chicago).

Isn't it just SO beautiful!?

Tune in tomorrow to see scandalous interior shots!
And learn the secrets revealed during the critique. Oooo, tremble. ;-)

Splotch! Ploop! - Comic Camp

After hours and hours of drills and practice, I can now honestly say that I am definitely a brush person, and NOT a nib person.  More on that in a bit...

First, I want to show you the bathroom. I was really surprised that the walls of this school are so clean. And white. My own home and studio have murals everywhere. I was sure there would be cartoons scrawled all over. Today I heard about this room and two other ladies and I ventured down into the basement classroom to find it. (Because girls ALWAYS go to the bathroom in groups, right?) It had an out of order sign on the door and, inside, it looked like a crazy cartoonist had been locked in there for years! Wowza. And this is just one wall in the photo! The drawings covered every surface.


 See... our classroom is pristine. And our bathrooms are unblemished. It's 9:30pm and I am heading back to my room. But that's why the windows are dark and there is no one here. Actually, I think most of the students are at Game Night next door.

Earlier that day...

We did some more anxiety laden, time-restricted games. This one incorporating a lot of rules, like "Pay It Forward" - in which you draw the first panel of the comic and then write the dialog for the second panel, then pass it on... yep, in just one minute. Sheesh. Other rules were "Snowball" - where every image in the panel needs to be included in the next panel, plus one. That worked fine for the first few panels, but there is no way you can draw all the elements by the sixth panel... in one minute. "Zoom In" was one of the most fun. The first person draws something kind of far away, like a city skyline. Next person zooms in a little to show the top of a building with silhouettes of Ninjas running. Next, zoom in more to show one dangerous Ninja, then zoom more to show his face... etc. And there has to be a story and text as well. In one minute.

We learned about the origins of the graphic novel. In Japan, of course. In the 12th century, a form of visual and oral storytelling was developed using picture scrolls in a little theater (like a mini puppet theater). So our next challenge was to form into teams and divvy up a strange Japanese story, design comic stills, assign roles, rehearse, then perform... no, not in a minute, but felt like it. We had under an hour.

Here's what our panels looked like. Each is something like 11x16 or some-such.

The story was really weird! Man walking in forest runs into a wealthy lady in a kimono who is weeping. He tries to console her, and when she turns toward him, she lowers her arm and her face is missing! He runs off screaming into the forest until he sees a light. It is a noodle vendor (seriously?!) who asks what he is so afraid of. The man says he met a woman and it was such a horror he can't describe it. The noodle vendor says "Was it like... THIS?" and he steps into the light revealing - he has no face. AAAAAAAH! Scary Japanese ghost story that makes no sense. (It's not the "no-face" part I can't believe, but the noodle-vendor in the middle of a dark forest.)

But it was fun to illustrate. I did the lady revealing her face by making a flap of her kimono-ed arm...

Eeeek! No Face!

Most of the day, we worked on INKING. We practiced with a brush, then with a dip pen. The pen made beautiful, detailed tiny... straight lines (see middle page in photo below). It needed to be filled often and cleaned after every third dip. Ergh. Fagettaboutit. I went back to the brush. I loved the expressive quality of the brush lines and it didn't feel so foreign or high maintenance to me.

 Then we spent the rest of the day inking our comic strip from the other day. Here is my character, Amret, flying into school and speaking her mind (it was an assignment, kind of Mad Libs-ish - not my personal opinion!) I did the entire thing with a regular little brush dipped into ink.

I went back after dinner and inked the Lilah Bean adventure...

I did this one with a Japanese brush marker (which I ADORE). I have no idea what it is called since all the writing is in Japanese, but I do know it is made by Tombow. One end is black and the other is gray. The paper in all these pictures is actually bright white, but the classroom lights have a yellowy glow. So it is hard to see the gray marker shading and the pink cheeks on the Lilah Beans.

In case you are scratching your head - this comic was the one based on the Mad Libs story. Lilah Bean is laughing in a cave, but laughing in a cave is illegal. She is almost caught, but a happy cat rescues her from the cave. "Woohoooooooo..." is the flight path out of the cave.

Fine. But it makes more sense than the Japanese stories!

It took me ages to figure out how to draw Lilah Bean climbing on to the cat! Lilah Beans are only every seen from the front. Momentous event here!
I took my cue from the Pillsbury Doughboy to give her some movable stumps instead of simple flippers.

Tune in tomorrow when we... OMG... do an entire comic book from very beginning to very late night production and printing! Should be fun. :-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pop-Pop-BLAM! - Comic Camp

The teachers here are either wind-up toys or highly caffeinated! They have so much energy and enthusiasm, even at 9:30 in the morning! Me, I'm exhausted just typing the exclamation marks! ;-)

Seriously, they are great. Very dramatic and funny... hmmmm... just like cartoon characters?

Today we started off with a very hyper, nerve-wracking, exercise. Kind of like a cartoon version of a cross between the game "Telephone" and "Exquisite Corpse". If you aren't familiar with them, you will have to look them up. It's almost midnight and I'm anxious to get some sleep so I can go back to class tomorrow morning. (My mom is probably reading this thinking "Wait! Excited for school?! Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?!") Tomorrow we are learning INKING! And that's, like, you know, with a brush and pen nibs, and... INK! Terrifying for sure. But we have been doing so much "penciling" the sides of our hands are all smudgey and gray and there are streaks across our faces. We are ready for some new marks on our bodies. And I'm hoping the photos will look more exciting - or at least show up better than the pencil.

Ah, back to the Exercise.... The first person was given a phrase and they drew a picture of it in the first box, folded over the phrase, so it couldn't be seen, and passed it on. The second person looked at the picture and had to write a phrase describing it. Then they folded over the picture so the third person only saw the new phrase - and they had to draw a picture of it. Repeat.

It's a lot harder than it sounds. But, in case it doesn't sound hard, each person only had a minute. The second time we played, we had 45 seconds, then 20... by the time we ended, there was barely enough time to pass the paper! Eeeek! Nevertheless, we were WIDE awake by 10am!!

Here are a few examples. Some were hysterically funny.

In the afternoon, we played another game. That one was like Pictionary on speed!

We also learned about gestures, layout, pacing, expressions, all kinds of serious stuff.

Here's my unreadable photo of some of what I worked on today.

I particularly love lettering. No surprise there. It was fascinating to see how much can be told about the character and story just through the way the letters of the dialog - and the speech balloons - are rendered. We also penciled another comic page (the pale sheet in the background) that will be inked tomorrow. My story is about a Lilah Bean who almost gets arrested for laughing in a cave, but is saved by a happy cat.... oh, did I not mention we also played Mad Libs and used them to design a comic page? There's another great idea if you have trouble with "what should I draw?"

This evening we had a lecture by Steve Bissette, who is wicked famous. He is even on Wikipedia! Alright, who am I kidding, "lecture" isn't the right word. We laughed hysterically while watching nuclear bomb propaganda films and an episode of Ultraman. (Who also has his own Wikipedia page, but is not nearly as clever as Steve Bissette).

Steve told us the history of post-apocalyptic film, illustrated with previews from the films he mentioned. Then we ate popcorn and watched "The Road Warrior" - also, unofficially known as "Mad Max 2" which changed the world (of sci-fi) forever. This was before movie ratings, so there are some really gross, though engrossing, yicky bits. And - women are treated... badly, and the bad guys look like they belong in a porn flick. Or maybe "50 Shades of Mad Max." But it actually has a great plot. Who knew? Then you can move on to Thunderdome. There was another movie shown after, but I could no longer feel my lower half so I headed out.

Mad Max also has great learning experiences for cartoonists - like character development. And I learned a rule I had not known, yet had actually recognized from years of reading X-Men - once a character has been tagged in some recognizable way, they must not EVER change their clothes. That works well in Mad Max. Where would they get clean clothes anyway? And some of those guys... well, I'm sure they lost the instruction manual for their harnesses years ago.

Tune in tomorrow to learn the secrets to quick and easy, do-it-yourself INKING!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pow! Zing! Comic Camp!

My hotel room smells like feet.
So does the hallway. And the lobby...
This place - the Hotel Coolidge in White River Junction, Vermont - is an intriguing mix of blast from the past, mysterious - and "well, that's what you get for the price."
I have definitely stayed in much worse conditions. And there are some things here that are better than some of the expensive suite hotels I've stayed in too.

For one, I actually have TWO rooms. Granted, they are divided by the bathroom...

...and I have a fridge so I don't have to eat at a restaurant three meals a day...

The hallways are literally endless! And they are wider than the actual rooms.
There's free internet and the latest of other technological advances...

And there are some really lovely Zentangle worthy tangles - like this hall rug...

...such lovely depth, don't you think? And this Crescent Moon relative on the curtain...

The whole town feels like it is trapped in time. It's actually rather creepy. There are all sorts of interesting shops and restaurants and theater and paint-your-own-pottery - but there's no one here and everything feels closed. Or rather, like the people have just stepped away...

And every once in a while a train whistle blows as it pulls into the station across the street.

Meanwhile, 7 miles up the street, there is a big crack in the earth and it is hopping with people! Quechee Gorge is mobbed with tourists, hikers, and shoppers. Go figure.

I got really queasy looking over the railing - and every time a car passed behind me on the bridge, the whole thing bounced. blurgh. There are nice hiking trails that go along the side of the gorge and UNDER the bridge.

From under here, there is a creepy, cracking sound when the cars pass over. But I think I prefer having my feet on the solid ground!

• • • • •

I'm only in White River Junction for the week, but already I have asked myself a thousand times - "Could I survive here for a whole year? Maybe two?" I really love the idea of getting my Masters in Cartooning. How cool would that be?! Yes, there are plenty of obstacles to that goal, but for now, I should just enjoy this one week.

Poster in the window of the school.

I am here at the Center for Cartoon Studies for Create Comics - or as I call it - "Cartoon Camp." We have an eclectic mix of people over forty (a couple "way" over 40), a couple of teenagers, and a big group of 20-somethings. I can't say that I feel like I fit in, but then I think that every one here is a bit of a... misfit. ;-)

Sign from the original occupant of the school's building.

In keeping with my "I just can't escape from work" plight... remember last summer where I ran away from my over-scheduled illustration classes, to an art camp on a remote island in the middle of a lake, in the middle of nowhere - and my cabin-mate was the very teacher from that illustration class!?... this is not quite so bad, but I had kind of been hoping to pretend to just be like everyone else and focus on comics. I wanted to think like a beginner and see it all anew. Get rejuvenated.

I wasn't in the classroom for more than 10 minutes before a man turned around and introduced himself saying that we had met at CZT training number 12 and he was so excited that I was here! He has my books and my App. My cover is blown. But, actually, it was kind of a relief. I'm no good at small talk with strangers and talking about Zentangle made us instant friends. I am curious to see his abstract cartoons tomorrow. He also has a web comic with a penguin.

Tomorrow, I have a "portfolio review" during lunch. Of course, I haven't had a "portfolio" since I graduated from art school. And, yes, I am weirdly nervous!

Today was a blast! We learned about character design, environments, thumbnails... and we drew... FAST! (I always draw slow!) I was remembering how my son's summer studies teacher said the kids would learn as much Arabic, in five weeks, as college kids learn in TWO YEARS. Whoa. Now I see how that is possible. When you are packing in just one subject - and your teacher talks really fast and times you - you get a lot done! I love seeing how "WTF!?" (when the challenge is given) can turn into "Maybe if I..." (when you are forced to draw something. Anything. NOW!) then turns into "Hmmm... best idea ever!"

My character, Amret, started out as a slightly evil dog type creature, but then changed into a slightly mischievous little sister. Then she grew batwings. Then a black dress with a skull... and poofy sleeves...

... and pink lace...

...and she lives in a cave. And likes to draw...

Tune in tomorrow, when Amret will learn to make bold gestures!


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