How do you save a day that has taken the shape of a pear?
Stopping for a drink of water is one of our long-standing habits.
If there is a box of matches handy, we could perform Piece of Yoko Ono’s Lightning.
More recently we have taken paper and a faithful black felt pen spend a few minutes making one of beloved cartoonist and educator Lynda Barry’s all-ages cartoons.
Barry started uploading these videos early in the pandemic, for “friends back home who are about to turn four or five or six or seven or whatever age really.”
Each demonstration begins with an oval. There is no prologue. Just dive in and copy Barry’s slow, refreshing hand movements, captured in a DIY God shot.
Less than four minutes later, voila! A smiling crocodile! (It’s magical how a facial expression can be changed with a single line.)
The soundtracks of these small exercises without narration are an additional treat. We have always admired Barry’s musical taste. It’s a real mood booster to cover a cheetah in spots to the sound of a marimba orchestra.
Barry is also a great cumbia fan, evoking a kitten in Lito Barrientos Cumbia In Do Menora lion to Cumbia de los Pajaritos de Los Mirlosand one stegosaurus for Cumbia Cavela by Romulo Caicedo.
Now that you have a Cheetah under your belt, you’re ready to upgrade to a ScorpionLeopard, one of Draw with Lynda B‘s “strange animals”.
Barry offers some commentary as these cryptids take shape.
We suspect her pioneering work with a group of four-year-olds in the drawbridge at the University of Wisconsin program leads him to anticipate the kind of burning questions a preschooler might have about these beasts. His experience in the classroom is evident. While others might think a steady stream of brilliant chatter is necessary to keep very young attendees engaged, Barry’s thoughtful words develop in real time with his drawing:
It’s a tough animal. He has a big stinger on his back. He’s a tough…angry animal. Put the eyebrows like this. It makes them look angry. What kind of teeth do you think this animal has? I don’t think they have small teeth. I think they have big fangs.
Others in the “strange animals” family: a CatDogSealFisha octophantand one cat fly (with a cameo through the muzzle of Barry’s curious pooch.)
Draw with Lynda Barry on this YouTube Playlistst.
Watch cartoonist Lynda Barry’s two-hour drawing workshop
– Ayun Halliday is the chief primatologist of East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Little Potato Manifesto. Am here @AyunHalliday.