In the fall, I took visual notes alongside my regular notes while watching General Conference. It was fun to try something new, and I liked looking back on them later in the year. It made it easier to find a specific talk if I could only remember part of the talk and couldn’t remember the speaker.
And so, I took regular and visual notes again while watching conference this spring.
Some sessions went better than others. I’m sure I left things out. Once again, it was fun, and I think it helped me pay better attention to the talks. I will share my notes with you here. I would welcome any suggestions!
If you took creative notes of General Conference or something else, I’d love to see them! Please post a link in the comments if you have them posted somewhere, or send it through the tab labeled “contact” at the top of the page.
To see the details, use the full screen icon [⤧] at the bottom right of the images.
Who do I need to talk to to get a few extra days before Christmas?
My Guide to Last-Minute Holiday Planning: 🎄
➀ Prioritize: Write down what you most want to do. Can you leave anything out? Write out the steps. Can you skip any? For example, presents under a poinsettia instead of a decorated tree or only sending a few Christmas cards. 🎁
➁ Lists: Group tasks by location–phone, computer, outside errands, etc. Schedule them into your week. 📱
➂ Ask for help: Invite friends and family to join you in you holiday activities. You’ll get more done and have more fun!
➃ Never again: Resolve to plan ahead next year so that the holidays are less overwhelming. 🌞
Last week it was story ideas, so this week I decided to share some drawing prompts that sound fun. Many of them would work for any medium. (I shared some more general art prompts in my post “Art Is Zero-Calorie Stress Relief.” )
Ask someone to hold a 15 second pose and do a quick sketch.
Go to a public place to draw people. Don’t be afraid to draw people in motion. Your picture may not look great. That’s okay.
Set up a still life and put a bright light behind it. Move the light until the shadows look interesting. Draw the shadows.
Draw something that makes you happy. Draw something that makes you sad.
Draw something from a dream. Daydreams count.
Draw something with an interesting texture. Focus on capturing the essence of the texture. Can you make your drawing look furry or smooth or scaly?
Draw a cartoon.
Illustrate a knock-knock joke or your favorite dad joke.
Make a paper doll or a maze or a crossword puzzle or a word search and incorporate it into a larger picture.
Draw a scene from your favorite story with characters from a different story.
Pause a movie or tv show and draw what’s on the screen.
Illustrate a question that you have.
Draw your problems as a monster and then make the monster look silly.
Draw your menu for the day. Post it on the fridge.
Illustrate a family recipe.
Illustrate a letter and send it to a friend or family member.
Listen to music and draw your impressions.
Close your eyes and draw a self portrait. Open your eyes and draw a portrait with your other hand. Now draw one with your feet.
Draw pictures of what you see in the clouds.
Draw something that you hope will happen someday.
Do you have any ideas to add? Have you
tried any of these prompts? Did you have fun?
Sometimes, I can just sit down and write, draw, or paint. However, sometimes art takes preparation. I suppose practice itself is a form of prep work. What other preparation do I need?
With writing, I keep a notebook of writing ideas. Once I’ve chosen an idea, I sit and think about it. I like to at least have a beginning and an ending and some scenes in the middle planned before I start writing. If it’s a complex or longer story, I like to have an outline to follow. It’s usually not especially detailed, but it gives me some direction.
A page of one of my story ideas notebooks.
I still get surprises as I write, and sometimes I have to change my plans or do some rewriting when the story veers off course. Having a plan keeps me from having that awful moment where I realize that I have no idea where I’m going with this. It also makes it easier to just keep writing. It works for me.
In Toastmasters, we practice planned and impromptu speeches, because life has both types. In my drawing, I practice drawing the picture in pencil, making sure to get all the proportions right, and then drawing over it in ink with more detail or looser lines. I also practice sketching in ink without any prep work. I think both help train my hand and eye in different things.
Painting requires the prep work of a mise en place just like when cooking. In addition to gathering and placing tools and fresh water and paint, the painting surface also must be prepared. For example, watercolor paper needs to be taped or stapled to a board.
Then you can draw an outline of the image you want to paint in pencil, or project it from underneath using a light desk, or project it onto the surface with a projector. Many believe a device similar to the projector, the camera obscura, was used historically by painters such as Vermeer. It’s really helpful to have a guide to follow so that you get all the proportions and distances correct. It’s horribly discouraging to spend hours on something and then realize that because you were working as you go, a small error led to everything looking wrong in the end.
I love recreating the illustrations John Tenniel drew for “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice through the Looking Glass.”
In a watercolor class I took last spring, the teacher talked about this kind of prep work, and said that she often has students who get really upset when they hear about it. They say that it destroys their view of art and artists to learn that they might use projected images or other kinds of painting aids. I wonder how they feel about outlines for writing or recipes or sheet music?
For my graphic novel pages, I draw a thumbnail sketch. It’s small so that I don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of time on it or work out all the little details. It’s for planning out the flow of the panels and their content. The pages themselves are drawn in pencil, then inked, then erased, then scanned and colored digitally.
In some ways, the pages I’m posting to my website are prep work. If I prepare them for publication at some point, I will redo them using the pages I have now as prep work for more polished, better done pages.
Planning ahead usually produces a better end result. It’s true when packing for a trip, or buying groceries for the week, or teaching a lesson at church. It’s also true in art. Knowing that I’m prepared also helps me feel calmer and more confident as I work. I like the times I just sit down and draw or paint, too. Sometimes the results can be surprisingly good. Unfortunately, they can also be surprisingly terrible. Preparation gives me more consistent results.
What kind of preparation do you do for your art? Do you always prepare in the same way? Do you sometimes skip the prep work? How do the results compare?
Where do ideas come from? Everywhere. I just choose something and try to think of how to change it into something new. How could it be part of a funny story? A scary story? A happy story? Who would the story be about? How would different perspectives change the story?
Combining two unlike ideas always fascinated me. What would happen if the story of little red riding hood took place under the sea? What if the three little pigs story and the three bears story were combined?
From time to time, I’ll spend a few months generating twenty story ideas a day. I try not to be critical of the ideas, and usually the last few are the best ones, or at least the strangest. It gives me material to work from for a long time.
Is it the same process for writing comics? Pretty much. It’s just about picking an object or a situation and wondering how it would be funny.
For example, here’s my thought process for the cartoon I drew for this week. I began with asking what is funny about carrots? What do I know about carrots? Fact-checking comes later.
Bunnies eat them. They’re good for eyesight. They’re often sold in packages of mixed vegetables. Are bunnies funny? Are peas and beans and lima beans funny? What do I know about them? What if bunnies preferred peas? Or left all the peas on their plates after eating the carrots? Maybe they should stop buying mixed vegetables. Why did they buy them in the first place? What a waste. Maybe they need a pet that eats peas. What eats peas? Maybe they could turn them into some sort of pea soup fog. That sounds like a story idea. Hmmm.
I think I’ll go back to the mixed vegetable idea. I can see the vague outlines of a cartoon idea for that. I’ll sketch it out and see how it looks on paper.
Once done, I need to ask my husband what he thinks. Unfortunately, my sense of humor isn’t universal. Yay! He laughed. Now I can spend more time on it.
“I quit,” Henry said. “You can’t quit,” Tom said. “You’re the boss.” “Well I quit web design. Let’s build our own website instead. No more clients constantly complaining or changing their minds over and over,” Henry said. “What do you think, Tracy?” “I think that we should continue designing websites