Thursday May 07, 2015

Cartoonist Lynda Barry dares you to draw like a kid

It doesn't matter what your grade school art teacher told you: you were meant to create. Award-winning cartoonist Lynda Barry says humans are simply hardwired for creative pursuits.

It doesn't matter what your grade school art teacher told you: you were meant to create. Award-winning cartoonist Lynda Barry says humans are simply hardwired for creative pursuits. (Stuart MacLean/CBC)

Listen 22:03

Forget what you know about "good art" and "bad art" and just create. That's the advice cartoonist and newly-minted professor Lynda Barry gives her students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Barry joins Friday guest host Tom Power to share what she's learned from years of exploring art with "non-artists", why too many adults resist their own creative impulses, and why it's a good thing if you still draw like a kid.

She also reflects on her own wild, non-conformist style, as showcased in her syndicated comic Ernie Pook's Comeek and graphic novels One! Hundred! Demons! and What It Is.  

Lynda Barry and Tom Power

Be like Tom Power and take Lynda Barry's writing challenge! (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)

WEB EXTRA | Take Lynda Barry's drawing challenge

Level one! Monster to-do list:

1. Take an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper. It's better if it's a piece of paper you were planning to throw away.
2. Fold it into four quarters, so it's divided into four chambers.
3. Take a pencil or a pen. On one chamber, make a squiggle.
4. On another chamber, make a closed shape, like a square or a rhombus.
5. On the third quarter, make another squiggle. 
6. Set a timer for two minutes, that's how much time you have to turn that first squiggle into a monster. You know, eyeballs, teeth, claws, etc. Repeat for all four chambers. 
7. Make a list of 10 things you have to do that you're not doing. (I have to do my laundry, go to the dentist, etc.) 
8. Look at that list, and figure out which monster has to do what. 
9. Write those tasks above those monsters. It's an instant comic and the results are often hilarious. 

Level two! Monster parenting

1. Fold another sheet of paper into quarters. 
2. Take any one of those monsters, and now draw that monster's parents.
3. Think about the task that monster has to do — like go to the dentist. Make one parent loves the monster "Honey those teeth aren't important, what's matter is you're happy." Make another parent hate you "Of course you're not going to the dentist." 
4. Just have them start talking about the problem. It's instant! And the most important thing is it makes you start laughing. 

Drawing challenge

Tom Power and Lynda Barry's quick, post-show sketches! A cowboy smoking a cigarette, and a monster inspired by a cowboy smoking a cigarette. (Tom Power/Lynda Barry)

q: Do you dare to take Lynda Barry's drawing challenge? Send your monsters to q@cbc.ca or tweet them @cbcradioq for a chance to win a q mug. 

Submit your entry by midnight on Sunday May 10th. We'll pick a level one and level two favourite on Monday. Remember: have fun!