Monday, March 3, 2014

Instadoodles - by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

What I'm finding: the more I draw for work, the more important it is to carve regular time to doodle purely for the fun of it. When I don't, my work stagnates and I don't experiment nearly as much.

Sometimes I doodle on my own, but I also love community doodling. Today, I posted the following:


 I'm taking a break right now from work to check what people have posted, and I LOVE the doodles so far! You can see what people have doodled today by checking #inkydare on Twitter and #inkydare on Facebook (for the latter, you'll only be able to see public posts or posts by people on your FB Friends list).

I love the different interpretations of the prompt, wide range of illustration styles and especially love the found object art doodles. :-)

 I'll be posting more Inkydare doodle challenges in the future via @inkyelbows on Twitter.

 And here's my "Morning" doodle:


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Encouraging Young Artists (Blog Post Series): An Introduction, and Drawing For The Joy Of It

PigtailGirlWriting 600

I've recently become more interested in resources for young artists, so will be posting more in Sketcharound on this topic. I've been having more conversations with other adults about artistic talent and creativity, and whether grown-ups who claim not to be able to draw can learn to draw for fun again.

My mom
But this got me thinking: when we are very young children, we draw with joy and without self-consciousness. Then...we grow up.

We all start out drawing random (random to adult eyes, anyway) scribbles. Some of us get better at it while others give up. While so-called innate talent may exist, I am convinced that a major factor is encouragement or discouragement from grown-ups at home and at school.

My mom liked to draw, and was my earliest artistic influence. She was a housewife and devoted to her children, but I'm positive that she could have been a successful illustrator in another life. She used to spend hours drawing with Ruth, Jim and me.

In the beginning, I remember mostly wanting her to draw princesses: anime-eyed beautiful creatures with sumptuous dresses and fancy shoes. Later on, she would draw part of the princess and ask me to finish the dress.

She'd also do a lot of sketching while we drew our own pictures: mostly sketches of us, which fascinated us. I drew more and more. I NEVER remember her pointing out any inaccuracy, or advising me to fix anything. I just remember the joy of drawing.

Comic I did when I was 16
Fast-forward years later: my sister Ruth went to art school and has now illustrated over 50 books (some of which she has also written). Over the years, I did comics and webcomics for fun as well as posting my doodles online. Then came the summer of 2010, when my friend Beckett (the same Beckett who co-writes this blog!) convinced me to enter the SCBWI Illustration Showcase in LA…and I ended up with a book contract.

There are many who think I just stumbled into children's book illustration out of nowhere. I have no formal art training, after all, and have been focusing on writing. But the fact is that I've been drawing all my life, and mostly just for the fun of it.

From now on, my Sketcharound posts are going to focus on drawing for joy as well as advice and resources for adults who want to encourage young artists. And if you're a grown-up who thinks they can't draw but want to draw: STOP WITH THE NEGATIVITY. Start drawing. You don't have to show anyone. Get a sketchbook and start doodling as often as you can, just for your own enjoyment. I'll write more on this in a future post.

-- Debbie

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creativity and Deadlines

My friend Rob found this video and it so perfectly expresses the problems we have as creative people with externally imposed, arbitrary deadlines. Tight, pressure filled deadlines produce mediocre work because there's no room for creativity.

It's true that many jobs really aren't concerned with getting really creative answers; they frequently just want the job done on time and within budget. Our culture makes it really hard to be creative, honestly; there's a very strong tendency to try to make kids fit their ideas within small pre-defined parameters that fit a standard imposed from some outside source. There's a lot of pressure to conform, to not be weird and unusual and odd. But really, creativity usually involves thinking outside the box, outside the cultural norms, outside the accepted set of answers.

It's really hard to make a living in this culture if you're stubbornly creative, stubbornly original and weird and don't fit into the norms. And that's really sad. Just think of all that we're missing out on. Clocks in your hand. Clocks within a cat. Time caught in a flower. Draw a clock. What does it look like to you?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite! | Video on

This is for Debbie and me and everyone else who shakes their head when someone asks to see what you're drawing and dismisses it with a 'it's just a doodle'. Heh. Turns out it's an innate way of thinking and an important way to process information. Well worth watching. :) And maybe we can all just have more fun with our doodles. Thanks to Karen McVey for pointing this one out to me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Non-Digital Sketch

Inspired by the Illustrator Intensive at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA, I've been experimenting with non-digital (*gasp*) sketching. Paints are a very small/portable Windsor & Newton travel watercolor paint kit that Jeff bought me. The line work was done with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, which was recommended by David Small during the Intensive.

Apologies for the slightly blurry photo -- I was experimenting with the Squarespace app on my iPhone, and I think I jiggled the phone a bit when taking the picture. The monster water container in the back is a handmade pottery piece created by my friend Luisa and painted by me. I have a bunch more one-of-a-kind pottery pieces that we made to put on Etsy; it's just a matter of finding the time.

Anyway, I had fun with this quickie sketch! I'm still way more comfortable with digital but figure it's good to always be learning new skills.

- Debbie

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Everything On It

There's a new book coming out of poems by Shel Silverstein, for anyone who hasn't heard about it yet. NPR books has an article about how it came about.

His family gathered together once a month for quite a while and read poems out loud to each other to winnow the 1500+ poems down to a manageable number to put into this new book. It's being lovingly designed to follow in the look and feel of previous books.
And it will include gems like this one, which you need to read out loud to get the best effect, just like all of his poems:

Italian Food
Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just 'cause how good it tastes
But 'cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Ravioli, mostaccioli,
Mozzarella, tagliatelle,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Tortellini, Tetrazzini,
Oops—I think I split my jeani.

 My guys have grown up on Shel Silverstein, so they're going to love this one. But they still think Shel was a little scary-looking in his pictures. I told them I saw a picture of him laughing once and he had a great grin.
You are missed, Mr. Silverstein. I'm glad we get to have another book of your poems.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creativity - a Ted talk by Ken Robinson

So this Ted Talk is moving, funny and really very important. Sir Ken Robinson talks about schools and what we value and how we teach our children to be afraid to make mistakes and how we kill their creativity. It's moving and powerful and even if you don't have kids I'm betting we all can relate to what he's talking about. Have a look, it's really worth it.


How do you encourage creativity?
Listening to kids and encouraging their interests, of course. Counteracting at least some of the messages they carry home about what's cool and what's a success and failure from school is also important, I think. Parents now were kids who went through the same system of squashing original, troublesome thought, though, and it's hard to break out of one's own programming to encourage wild creativity in your kids, especially when it gets you calls from the principal's office because your kid just has to get up and dance around the room when she's thinking, or draws wickedly rude, funny caricatures of his teacher or corrects the teacher's bad spelling in front of the class or yells at a mean kid who won't stop bullying a friend or bursts spontaneously into a loud song about Mr. Data's cat Spot during quiet time or writes a story about pioneers and kills off the main character at the end and makes the teacher and principal worried about why he didn't write a happy ending and he tells them it just had to end that way because the characters demanded it or...

So what is a solution for kids?

Well, I had a long rant about the school system here and the horrible budget cuts and the under-appreciated teachers and how parents are expected to make up the budget shortfall and what about the promise of free quality public education in this country of opportunity and all that. It's a fact that kids from lower economic levels get fewer opportunities than rich kids. It'd be so great if their schools could have the resources to encourage them, even if their parents don't have the means to pay for music or dance lessons and sports and all that. It's really crazy-making for a parent with limited resources, and when it comes right down to it, there are more and more of us in that boat than before.

But. Ranting here won't change it, won't fix it. Listening to the kids, encouraging them in whatever excites them and grabs their interest, that helps no matter what their circumstances may be. And it may not be much, it may not be enough, but it's better than nothing.