You ever buy something not really knowing why or when you will use it, but you buy it just because it’s too great to leave behind?
That would explain this purchase:
I found this a few years back at the Multnomah County Library’s annual used book sale. I suppose I loved it because it reminded me of my childhood. Ed Emberley’s books were hot in the 70s when I was a kid.
But it was more than that. I’ve always longed to be able to draw things, and I’ve never known how. The promise of this book is that if you can draw simple lines and shapes, you can draw the whole world.
But like so many things that speak to some long-buried creative longing, I bought this book and put it on the shelf and forgot about it. In fact, it wasn’t until I was purging my books right after the new year that I rediscovered it. This weekend, thinking about how to create this year’s Valentine card for Cane, I brought it out again.
Wouldn’t you know it, Emberley had just what I needed: A scooter. And mountains and trees. Which is how I was able to create this:
I began with the idea that whatever I created, it was all just an exercise. I ended up with a page full of exercises, some taken directly from Emberely, and others that I came up with as I gave myself permission to branch off from his:
To draw the scooter I needed to look at a photo. I did a Google image search for “scooter back view” and found several that helped me. The Emberley exercises helped me see the scooter as a set of shapes; now I’m seeing everything I look at that way.
Will I use any of this directly in my Valentine? I don’t know. What I do know is that I learned some lessons from this exercise that I will carry into whatever the Valentine becomes–and into other creative projects:
1. Most complex things can be broken down into simple component parts.
2. Hard things can become easy when we’re able to break them down into small, simple parts.
3. It helps to think in layers–to ask, What needs to come first?
4. Small tasks (drawing only a scooter) are good for learning brand-new skills. You get to start over (and over and over) right away.
5. Working on only one small part at a time is good for developing a design. You get to start over (and over and over) right away.
6. Starting over (and over and over) frequently allows you to see progress quickly, so that you don’t get discouraged.
7. A total fail needs to be kept in proper perspective. I had only one total fail in 8 exercises. That’s an 88% success rate!
Just as important as learning some things about creative process, I also had a ton of fun. There’s just something about a handful of colorful markers that makes me feel good.
No better way to spend a sunny Sunday twilight than sitting at the kitchen table with some paper, some markers, a cup of tea, and my favorite guy.
How about you?
Any other Emberley fans out there? Any other good resources for learning how to draw? Great ideas for how I can turn this into my Valentine? Just want to chat a bit, share an exercise/experience of your own? I always love hearing from others.