Timed drawings

Just started on a 15-week program of creative exercises, taken from a book about cartooning. They range from spontaneous drawing to multi-page comic spreads. This week, I’ve been using a timer.

The book, by the way, is called “Cartooning: Philosophy and practice” by Ivan Brunetti. I picked up a copy last year after seeing it mentioned in Lynda Barry’s “Syllabus”.

Exercise 1.1 is simple enough: draw some cars, cats, castles, telephones and self-portraits. The kicker is that you’re on a timer set for 4 minutes, then 2, then 1 – then 30, 15 and 5 seconds.

Left: 4 minute car. Right: 5 second car.

Seeing the difference is fun, but it’s not like the drawings automatically get worse as they’re drawn faster. Inversely, they gain a something the “prettier” drawings don’t always have. My personal favorites all came from the 1-minute and 30-second sessions.

Note also as the simplest doodle emerges, when we really have too little time to think about the drawing, we get closer to the “idea” or essence of the thing being drawn. Here we begin to see the universal, latent, symbolic, visual mnemonic language that is comics. You will probably surprise yourself as you spontaneously create these simple icons (pictograms, really) that can still convey all the essential information about something.

Ivan Brunetti, “Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice” (2011)