Up next in the A to Z Challenge is the letter B! And since my theme is Ladies I Love, I will tell you about one of my all-time favorite artists, Lynda Barry. I read her first book, Girls and Boys (1981), before I was ten years old and it left an immediate impression on me. I had never read comic strips quite like hers – funky people, honest stories, smart humor and a fearlessness and vulnerability that I had never seen anywhere else. While my earlier exposure to Lynda Barry’s work came in the form of comics and drawings, Lynda has diversified her art and interests as her career progresses. She wrote a couple of novels (Cruddy is one of my favorite works of hers), and more recently, a pair of drawing and writing books called “Picture This” and “What It Is“. Her research asks “what is an image?” and examines the connection between drawing and writing with brain function and the resulting physiological responses of doing art. She has done a number of interviews (a couple of good ones are here and here) describing this line of research. Currently, Lynda teaches classes about drawing and writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; you can follow along with her lessons through her tumblr (which I am obsessed with).
I love Lynda Barry. She has been a creative influence on me since I was a young kid. I tried to emulate her spirit in my own cartoons. I met her at Comic-Con. I’ve bought a couple of her paintings. I WISH I could take one of her courses. But because I am not a total stalker, I will, for now, have to settle for taking some of her advice about doodling to a practical level. Doodling, according to Lynda, can increase concentration and rescue us from tedium. This advice has resulted in, for you, a small collection of some of my favorite doodles that I’ve done during meetings at work. You can click on the images to make them bigger, and for a short description of the meetings during which they were yaawwwwnnn…oops…I mean drawn.
There is a kind of monkeying around with our hands that changes our sense of time in a tiny way that can make a big difference. Like doodling in the margins during a very boring meeting. It can make time feel like less of a cheese grater and more like sandpaper. That’s a small but critical difference. People employ doodling all the time, even those who are certain they never draw will make a complicated pattern of marks with their thumbnail on a Styrofoam cup when someone very boring is speaking at length. Nearly everyone does this. — Lynda Barry
Lynda Barry-inspired work doodles drawn by me: