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Art comics Commonplace Book Design Drawings Thinkers

Cartoonists and Copywork

Ivan Brunetti offers up the cartoonist’s version of copywork in his masterclass book – Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice

Homework Assignment 8 reads:

To the absolute best of your ability, create an exact replica of your favorite page. Do not trace. Any deviation from the original should be unintentional on you part; ineptitude and sloppiness are charmless when deliberate.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti then urges his students to pay close attention to each element of their comics page:

Pay close attention to what you are copying. Think about the artist’s decisions regarding page layout, panel compositions, design, characterization, dialogue, gesture, captions, balloons, word placement, sound effects, line, shape, texture, etc. Hopefully you will gain some appreciation of their working and thinking process… and the difficulty of creating a comics page.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti practiced this version of copywork in his own career.

He took on the Nancy strip for a time. The pressure from the syndicate to copy Ernie Bushmiller‘s style precisely, further developed his cartooning technique.

I can tell exactly the time period in my work when I was doing these-the syndicate were such nitpickers about me copying Bushmiller’s style exactly that my approach to cartooning got much more precise as a result. I went from doing strips just to amuse myself, without a grand plan, to focusing on formal aspects of cartooning much more: where to place a word balloon, the composition of every panel, and the flow of panels.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Brunetti enjoyed the project while in the learning phase, but admitted it was an unpleasant way to work:

When you’re copying someone else’s style exactly, you can theorize about it, and actually break it down into a set of rules. So they way I was working by imitating him had almost nothing to do with the way he was working…I also realized that working this way was totally unpleasant, because there are very strict parameters you have to follow, rather than discovering the rules that work. The project was fun while I was discovering all of the rules; I would notice that he would never put certain kind of marks next to one another because they’d look wrong. I became very aware of every penstroke, where he used a ruler, where it was freehand. He had an intuitive sense of what looked good, so for me it was trying to codify this into a set of rules, which made me realize the importance of the consistency of your cartooning vocabulary.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Could Brunetti’s copywork exercise translate into other disciplines as well?

If you’re an aspiring graphic designer you could recreate your favorite logos, stroke by stroke, in illustrator?

Or if you’re a programmer, instead of cutting and pasting, you typed out lines of code, line by line, character by character?

With thought and imagination, copywork exercises can be applied to every discipline.

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amreading Basketball writer's inspiration

Coach Morgan Wooten’s Summer Basketball Workout Sheet (an excerpt)

Source: Where’d You Get Those? New York City’s Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987

By: Bobbito Garcia

We’ve spoken about practice here before.

I love how Bobbito not only kept his off season workout sheet (written by coaching legend Morgan Wooten) into adulthood, but also published it in his book – Where’d You’d Get Those?

Coach Wooten’s off-season workout regimen is a reminder of the importance of practice. Remove the word “basketball” if needed and replace it with painting, forklifting, clarineting, YouTubing…

Whatever skill or hobby you’re wanting to improve at, creating a specific practice routine will help accelerate your progress.

Basketball is a game in which you either get better or you get worse. It has become so highly competitive that in order to perform to the best of your ability at all times, you must work to improve constantly. The summer is the time when a player can work on individual fundamentals that make him a better player.

Coach Morgan Wooten
1. BALL HANDLING (15 minutes)
   A. Pound the ball both hands
   B. Finger tip drills
   C. Pass ball around your mid section
   D. Single leg circle - both legs
   E. Around legs and body both ways
   F. Figure 8 both ways
   G. Figure 8 and drop both ways
   H. Crab run both ways
   I. Side catch
   J. Front catch
   K. Spin ball on finger

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amreading Poems writer's inspiration

He could not stop writing poems


But no matter how many babies he delivered,

no matter how many sick people he cured,

Willie could not stop writing poems.


A River of Words is a short, illustrated book about the life of Dr. William Carlos Williams.

His life, as both doctor and poet is inspirational.

I keep this book close by.

You should too.

From: A River of Words

Written by: Jen Bryant

Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet

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amreading Poems writer's inspiration

Poet Donald Hall in one question


INTERVIEWER

I would like to begin by asking how you started. How did you become a writer? What was the first thing that you ever wrote and when?

DONALD HALL

Everything important always begins from something trivial. When I was about twelve I loved horror movies. I used to go down to New Haven from my suburb and watch films like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Wolf Man Meets Abbott and Costello. So the boy next door said, Well, if you like that stuff, you’ve got to read Edgar Allan Poe. I had never heard of Edgar Allan Poe, but when I read him I fell in love. I wanted to grow up and be Edgar Allan Poe. The first poem that I wrote doesn’t really sound like Poe, but it’s morbid enough. Of course I have friends who say it’s the best thing I ever did: “Have you ever thought / Of the nearness of death to you? / It reeks through each corner, / It shrieks through the night, / It follows you through the day / Until that moment when, / In monotones loud, / Death calls your name. / Then, then, comes the end of all.” The end of Hall, maybe. That started me writing poems and stories. For a couple of years I wrote them in a desultory fashion because I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a great actor or a great poet.

Then when I was fourteen I had a conversation at a Boy Scout meeting with a fellow who seemed ancient to me; he was sixteen. I was bragging and told him that I had written a poem during study hall at high school that day. He asked—I can see him standing there—You write poems? and I said, Yes, do you? and he said, in the most solemn voice imaginable, It is my profession. He had just quit high school to devote himself to writing poetry full time! I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. It was like that scene in Bonnie and Clyde where Clyde says, We rob banks. Poetry is like robbing banks. It turned out that my friend knew some eighteen-year-old Yale freshmen, sophisticated about literature, and so at the age of fourteen I hung around Yale students who talked about T. S. Eliot. I saved up my allowance and bought the little blue, cloth-covered collected Eliot for two dollars and fifty cents and I was off. I decided that I would be a poet for the rest of my life and started by working at poems for an hour or two every day after school. I never stopped.

One question in and I already have to recommend the rest of this interview.

From: The Paris Review Issue 120, Fall 1991

Interview by: Peter A. Stitt

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amreading Football/Soccer writer's inspiration

Soccer in Random Places: The Dangerous Book for Boys and the joy of practice


With libraries and bookstores closed I’ve returned to my own shelves. During a session of pull-any-book-off-the-shelf and read game, I stumbled on this excerpt from The Dangerous Book for Boys.

Titled: The Rules of Soccer, it reminded me of the joys of practice.



Soccer is the example, but the idea of practice, daily practice, applies to any discipline:

It’s an old, old phrase, but “practice makes perfect” is as true today as it was hundreds of years ago. Natural-born skill is all very well, but it will only take you so far against someone who has practiced every day at something he loves.


Further reading:

How I practice at what I do – by Tyler Cowen

People who have not yet succeeded but maybe they will – by henryeoliver

Learn Like an Athlete – by David Perell

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Art Drawings

Drawing Assignment, Cours de dessin: Eyelids

Inspired by a Van Gogh Museum tweet, I picked up this Cours de dessin book and took off.

I mean, if it worked for Van Gogh…


Me

I’m amazed how a few curved and diagonal lines can render such an intricate part of the human face.

Cours
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amreading Art Commonplace Book

Notes from The Natural Way to Draw pt.2 : The Way to Learn to Draw

The way to learn to draw is by drawing. People who make art must not merely know about it. For an artist, the important thing is not how much he knows, but how much he can do. A scientist may know all about aeronautics without being able to handle an airplane. It is only by flying that he can develop the senses for flying. If I were asked what one thing more than any other would teach a student how to draw, I should answer, ‘Drawing – incessantly, furiously, painstakingly drawing.’

The Natural Way to Draw, Nicolaïdes, Kimon

An artist must have skin in the game.

The work, the practice of drawing everyday, is the path to improvement.

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Poems

1,000 Jump Shots

Knees bent. Shoulders squared.

Gooseneck up. Snap your wrist. Fly.

Chasing perfection.