Sketching: Body Gesture

In my newfound goal to start drawing again, I’ve been drawing faces and figures. This is all with the lofty, high-art aim of wanting to draw cartoon caricatures of myself. But, I’m out of practice, and really, I wasn’t that great to begin with, so my bodies look weird and disproportional. So, I’ve been looking for drawing books.

The first one I found is, quite luckily, a library e-book that I can look at on my computer, The Energetic Line in Figure Drawing by Alon Bemet. I don’t have experience in these things, so I don’t know if it’s the best book in the world for this, but so far the book teaches to draw the gesture (I’ve had to learn about gesture in my writing, might as well learn it in drawing, too). I’ve only gotten through bodies from the side and arms, but so far I’ve had some fun results.

My inability to draw fingers is revealed once again.


My favorite. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
More dancing people. No explanation on the weird face.

Maybe I’ll keep with this book. At least through how to draw a three-quarter turned figure. Or maybe I’ll just keep drawing different faces.

Oh man and clothes…I don’t know how to draw clothes…

What It Is: How Drawing “Helped Me to Stay”


“[Drawing] was a form of transportation. I did it because it helped me to stay by giving me somewhere else to go.” — Lynda Barry, What It Is

In high school my notebooks and paper bag-covered textbooks were a mess of my graffiti. I spent every non note- or test-taking moment drawing my personal doodles of frogs and bees, and creating never-ending, constantly dividing tendrils, using my collection of gel ens to draw them and then fill them with the vibrant, shiny color.

Focusing his never been my strong point; I have a mind that tends towards wandering. If I don’t want to lose track of where I am, something needs to anchor me. Writing I can focus on, but only that. For something like Biology class, I needed something to take up the part of my brain that tried to slip away. Drawing—sketching—doodling—that was perfect.

Sometimes, my reasonings for this were not understood, and I was called out on it. Once, in Math, I set to drawing an Orca on the front cover while some classmates spoke at the front of the room. My mistake was shading; the teacher heard the scuff of my pencil, and chastised me for being so rude and not paying attention. I put my pencil away, and had to focus on my classmates without looking at paper or moving my hands. She never did confirm whether I’d really been not listening.

Then, other times, it didn’t bother the teacher at all. I doodled on my folder while the Health teacher explained alcohol poisoning. Suddenly he turned to me and asked if I was listening. “Yes,” I said, without looking up, and repeated what he’d told us. “All right!” he responded, and continued on.

Recently I read Lynda Barry’s What It Is, part graphic novel, part collage, part memoir, part writing guide. The above quote gut-punched me as so weirdly but completely true. Drawing gives you somewhere to go—letting my mind wander, as it will—and helping me stay, letting me pay attention to everything going on around me. I was taken right back to high school, when I did the most drawing, now having words to describe something I always knew was true. I drew then to keep myself in that fantastic in-between place. I want to draw more now, so that I can find it again.

What’s Cluttering My Desk? Fairy Tales and Doodles

A look at my desk when I’m in the middle of things (especially when I’m not preparing for other humans to come and visit and see my mess) is a good way to get a sense of what I’m working on, and potentially my emotional state.


With the overall look of it, I seem to be in a pretty good place! I have some notebook stacks, and I still haven’t found a home for the new pack of multi-colored Sharpies I bought, but the only coffee mug in view is the one I’m currently drinking out of, and there is a minimum of crumpled up used tissues.

Desk booksI have a couple other books that are just out of the frame in the first photo, but these are the ones I’ve been flipping through while sitting in my chair. Show Your Work! is another Austin Kleon book that I find helpful, with advice on how to share the things I do and connect with people online. I actually read this one before Steal Like an Artist, but that was from the library, so this one is still waiting for me to completely deface it with those brand new Sharpies.

I’ve also been flipping through my copy of The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I’m working on another story idea, and I’ve been borrowing some elements from fairy tales. How do I help myself with that? By reading more fairy tales. (Really, I should always read more fairy tales…)

Notebooks and DoodlesThis pile of notebooks represents Becky, which is currently getting critiqued, and my new middle grade fantasy, which I’m calling The Witch’s Woods for right now. I don’t want to say too much about the plot or the characters, but I’ve been gathering the pieces of it for a couple of months, and now I believe I finally have the clumpy, pudding-like consistency of an actual plot, so I’ve begun writing it. I’m excited for this one — I hope I don’t hate it in a week.

I’ve also got out my notebook where I’ve been drawing and doodling while I try to come up with ideas or wait for my slow computer to load webcomics, and I’m remembering that satisfying feeling of when a drawing comes out sort of right. I’m going to keep at it, and who knows, maybe I’ll start posting a weekly doodle.

And of course, over everything, Sadness watches.

That’s my work space, and (sort of) what I’m working on! How does your desk look right now? Does it become an awful mess when you’re in the midst of a project, or do you manage to keep everything organized and neat?