Clay Sculpting in Plymouth

Take your kids someplace and make stuff.  They need to learn how to work with different materials.  They need to understand that reality is what happens between the planning and the making.  Flexibility means to work around the mistakes. Experimentation is what we call "work". Experience means you are better at working with your mistakes, and care less about them.  Art is a perfect medium to explore all of the above.  Creating something of emotional value is a skill we need to grow in our children.


      Our girl's end of year grade school project. To create and sell a "product" to her classmates. Natalie wanted to make "Schlubber" which, as she puts it, "Is a cross between flubber and slime."   

     What is the story?  It can be stretched and formed a little. It can't be eaten.  Its not playdough or silly putty. 

    We spent an evening talking and sketching ideas.  One idea was give Shlubber "personity".  Maybe it (he/she) had a face and a bit of a story?

 Shlubber needed to be saved.  Trapped somehow in this plastic bag hoping to be saved, to be loved.... 

Sketching out Ideas ....


Sketching ideas or the lack of... always leads to something...if nothing else, happy accidents


Just a quick sketch while the boy was busy with math homework.  Done in Magna studio on my tablet. l am considering a new Surface pro or Ipad Pro.  Took the Ipad out for a test drive with its new pencil. It was nice but without Manga studio to test I was a little skeptical.  Surface pro seemed better to me as the pencil had more of a textured drag or resistance on the screen.  The apple felt like drawing on slick glass instead of paper. 


This Topic is no good...

     Visiting my brother in MN for Christmas. (We had a great time!)  My nephew told me about his high school art project.   Create an image around the theme of "human reflex" meaning reflexes like sneezing, kicking, blinking and coughing. this topic. But at times a topic, no matter how broad, can seem confining.  There were comments about this being a difficult or limiting topic. I see this with my kids also.  

     I think some of the biggest issues with creativity come thinking to literal.  Art can teach abstract thinking that allows a loose interpretation of a task.  This may open up a new way to approach a problem.  Maybe a new way to define a question or task.  

What Is a Cough?

What feeling do you want your viewer to experience?

-Your image can be literal or symbolic...

-You can use different Materials or different Styles....

-Lastly your choice of Composition should work with your previous decisions

Ideation Thought Starters....Thumbnails

Who is coughing and what type of cough.....

Does it need to be a human?  or an object? or show the Environment that you cough in?

Maybe create a stylized expression of a cough....or just the an abstracted graphic representation.....

Materials and Color adds limitless possibilities to this equation 

Ready for Class Visit

On Tuesday I hope to be drawing Pirates with the kids at our local K-5 grade school.  I take the day off and make a day of it.  It is always fun, busy and entertaining.  My visits will include a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. (One class is a 3/4 split)  Each grade has a different interest and attention span to consider.  What do I bring?

-A large poster  (36" x 48")  to hang in the front of class for reference and to leave with the teacher for the day...

Next, I bring a small, 16 page, coloring and drawing workbook to hand out to the kids and teachers. With all the classes this week I have printed out about 100 books...stapled, trimmed and counted ready to go!

Finally, I will be bringing my tablet and a projector.  Sketching using Manga Studio 5 on the tablet with a few canned sketches. I will be sketching on the fly with suggestions thrown out from the class.  I usually prompt the kids for suggestions that lead the character development.

I usually focus on 3 main lessons...

1) Relax and draw from your shoulder.  I want to show them how to draw a clean simple bold line not chicken scratch.  I think confidence and control need attention. Often, the kids are still learning basic coordination skills with items like scissors or crayons. This lets them be a little more bold and less cautious.

2) Draw lightly first, darken up later. I want them to consider composition and variations before settling on their first thought.  Often I scribble all over the page lightly to show how I am just trying to figure out what to draw.  I ask them to hold the pencil at the very end as they draw to ensure they can't draw to dark. When I darken up the key lines the kids see how the under scribbles disappear and the bold lines stand out. 

3) No Erasers!  This is also about confidence. Often the kids seem to have, in their head, an idea of the "perfect" line they want to draw. This can spiral into a cycle of drawing then erasing over and over. I want them to understand that mistakes are a part of the process.  It is easier to just ask them not to use erasers than trying to limit their use. 

Above all, the message is to have fun.  I try to show them good examples but leave them to determine how much they want to try. My only "demand" is that they try sketching something, not just asking questions. I may go in with Pirates but if all the suggestions are to draw a pumpkins, then we draw pumpkins!  But, I may add an eye patch and a wicked sneer!

Keep Sketching!!!!


Pirate Day Oct.20

I almost have the final sketch/coloring books complete for Art Parent.  I have been reformatting and changing a few of the final sketches but I think it is almost done.  I have a projector on order for the day so I am hoping for a sketch video to go along with the handouts.  I have a few rooms to visit, so it should be a fairly busy day.  I hope the kids are up for it.  Here is a taste of a few of the pages, almost complete....

Homework Sketches...

Some Notes from my son's homework....

Halloween Pirate Book

Preparing for a hand out for a school visit.  Trying to break down, into small lessons, how to draw a Pirate!  The hand out is only 8 pages and it is roughly 4" x 5" so it will be small ...

I am looking at option 1 as it seems the most distinct.  Maybe just a single face or a simple scene.  Number 4 may be a little less playful but I like to the look of this also. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Next I will have a page on expressions : Eyes and Sneers and such,  showing how to draw the teeth and lips in a good Pirate SNARL!

Different Types of Hair will be next, from squiggles to furry to the pony tail and you have to have the twisted mustache!

The last few will be mostly scenes and different body types.  Tall and thin or short and Fat hopefully in some funny situations.

40 books


I go into 2nd grade tomorrow for a quick and final update on the project I introduced last October.  The book is done but still needs some revisions.  One issue was not having a clear enough voice for each character.  I now realize how much farther I could have taken the writing before the sketching....sounds obvious I suppose until you go throught the process for yourself.  Little things like different line weights and a more relaxed drawing style started to become more obvious on the later pages. Again something to watch for next time...wish me luck tomorrow...


Notes from the Trail: Food Fight

I need to be sleeping now. I need to be sleeping now! now!  Just can't get to sleep.  So I got up to work on page 23.  A few more left.  Had to rewatch Serenity and Firefly while drawing again tonight. The kids and Lorene are sound asleep, I am going to be dragging tomorrow but this was better than just sitting staring at the ceiling.  Using larger blacks and  going back with a little feathering with black and white pen. OK I am going to try to get some shut eye...


Inking last page


This is the final page for SUPERCOW 1 comic.  I hope to unleash on the 2nd graders as a coloring book edition. The editing process has been longer than expected but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a challenge to find quiet time that isn't at 1:30 am.  I am starting to get a better workflow with less backtracking on story or art style. I can see changes in inking styles over the 28 pages.  My roughs had much more energy then the finals so I started to use them more.  Text edits are next...


Super Cow Page 24

The point at which every villain must take their own medicine.  Just  a few more pages to ink, then I need to go back and look at darker blacks.  This comic will not be color, just black and white. I will be very happy if I can just finish it to that level.  Pages are coming a little faster I just hope my story is making sense.  You look at something for so long and it seems logical to you but when someone else sees it, out of context, all bets are off. I have been showing it to the kids and Lorene but not a very wide or critical audience yet. Not looking to win any prizes just hoping it is mildly entertaining.

Super Cow Page 23

With the Kids Read Comics June 21 date getting closer an closer, I need to get this moving.

I was able to finish a little more of the prelim inking so far. Here is a sneak at page 23 with prelim text.  I plan to do a quick and rough text to leave space for balloons and sound effects.  My biggest worry should be story but I am more focused on consistent character and facial expressions. I am getting more comfortable with my characters and am anticipating a number of page redos to match the feel of my later pages ...I really liked this page in that regard. KCR (Kids Read Comics) is getting closer...

Notes from the Trail — Trooper Treehouse

Here is another update on the Super Cow 28 page book.  Page 22 features the EVB (Evil Villain in Black) who is challenging our Hero to a food fight!  All dialog is still preliminary and working  out the page.  This is the only page I really changed the frame shape to something a little more dynamic. I have to play with this more in the future...keep moving forward...


Page 20 Update

Here is an update on page 20 light inking is done.  Still trying to stay on schedule for the June 21 show. Had a pretty productive couple days.  Fun showing the kids, they are really good at critiques. They come up with great ideas on how to tie the story back to school and happenings that are specific to their class.  This is so much more work than I thought. Every step seems to take longer than expected. I haven't even got to deep into the editing and rewriting yet.  I just want to get 28 pages complete to see the whole thing together. I am noticing that the line work done on the computer doesn't always print well. Because I can zoom in I am adding detail that does not translate when I print it out on test pages. Learn as I go.

Page 20 Prep for Kids Read Comics - June

I have to finish this comic for the local 2nd grade class and for the Kids Read Comics convention...

Here is a work in progress on page 20.  I am working in Manga Studio going panel by panel.  I threw in some of the dialog as placeholders as I refine and edit.  If I can finish the art by the end of May I should be in fair shape for revisions.  As I go the characters are getting more comfortable to draw.  I am finding that the more I relax my sketches the more expressive and dramatic the poses and expressions become.  The tighter the drawings the more life seems to drain from them. OK time for bed and getting a little sleep now.