Ladies I Love: B is for Lynda Barry (who gave me permission to doodle during meetings at work)

Lynda Barry and Marci

Me and Lynda at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008!

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).

Lynda Barry

Two panels of a comic by Lynda Barry. Child-like and often semi-autobiographical, Lynda tells stories from all of our youth experiences.

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:

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28 thoughts on “Ladies I Love: B is for Lynda Barry (who gave me permission to doodle during meetings at work)

    • Thanks for stopping by! Cruddy is definitely a great read, but be prepared – it’s pretty dark. That’s kind of atypical of Lynda Barry’s work, so you should also check out some of her comics (which can also be dark, but also very funny and honest). I love you blog, btw – it’s on my 2014 A to Z Challenge Must-Read list! 😀

    • Hi Marie! Have you heard of Lynda Barry before? I’m surprised that there aren’t more people who are familiar with her, but when I meet someone who knows who she is, I know we’re kindred spirits. I love your blog – it’s on my 2014 A to Z Challenge Must-Read list (along with Sick B*tch, who wrote the comment above). Thanks for stopping by! 😀

  1. Madly jotting down “Lynda Barry”, “Cruddy”, “Picture This”, DOODLE!!! She sounds like great inspiration and what a darling picture of you two. I think you should frame your column of fruit doodles. It would make a beautiful vertical picture on your kitchen or dining wall.

    • Thanks so much, Sammy! It was definitely on my bucket list to meet Lynda Barry, and I’m so glad I got that opportunity. I don’t know if you can tell, but my shirt in that picture reads “Help me find Lynda Barry” – turns out I just randomly bumped into her booth! And thanks for the comment about my fruit doodles! I liked coloring them 😉 I’m off to visit your blog now!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jillian! Lynda Barry might also suggest that you should continue to doodle as an adult – some of her research involves why people stop drawing as they hit puberty. I’ve found that boring meetings are the perfect opportunity to practice my drawing skills! 😀

  2. Gorgeous, fun doodles, Marci. They’re lively and full of movement and humor. Lovin’ them!

    I’m a meeting doodler, myself. And as a teacher for a decade, I’d read some of the early brain research connected to doodling and processing. I always let me fourth graders doodle during any lectures I may have been teaching.

    Great post!!

    • Ah, yes, you understand, then! They really do help me concentrate. Otherwise, I find my mind wandering too much, then I stop paying attention and risk falling asleep altogether. Maybe I should just find more interesting meetings to go to? 😉

    • I do too! Most of the time I have to be super covert about my doodles, but if it’s a day-long meeting, it’s difficult to disguise the fact that I’m coloring my notebook with highlighters. Our office building is going to be repainted and I want one of my entire walls painted with white-board paint. Sadly, I think they are going to deny my request 😦 Oh well – it never hurts to ask! 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Love this! I used to doodle all the time… stupid computer… Thanks for reminding me to actually pick up a pen and paper once in a while!!!

    • Yes! Writing on the computer is so different from writing by hand, which Lynda Barry has talked about quite a lot, coincidentally. But taking time to doodle can be really rewarding – if nothing else, you’ll have something more interesting to look at than plain old boring meeting notes! 😀

    • Ha! Those were just a few of my favorite ones…there are plenty of doodles I’ve done that I wouldn’t necessarily call “art”! Thanks so much for stopping by! 😀

  4. I LOVE Lynda Barry!!!!! And I’m loving your blog! Thanks for stopping by mine…because I’m not sure I would’ve found yours otherwise. (I think I made out better in this trade! 🙂 )

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