Anatomy of an Artist, Illustrated
Get a load of those impressive annotations.
Hellooooo DrawTogether GUT family.
So happy you’re here.
First, a quick proud moment for us to celebrate: The Guardian named DrawTogether/The GUT one of the 33 Best Substack Newsletters!
The other 32 publications on this list are fantastic, including Story Club from forthcoming GUT Visiting Artist(!) so check them all out.
I’m super proud of what we’re creating at the DT Grown-Ups Table and look forward to all that’s ahead. And I hope you know: DrawTogether and the GUT literally does not exist without you. Thank you for being part of this adventure. If you want to help the GUT community keep going and growing, referring creative friends is an easy way to do that. (Also gets you a free subscription.) Everyone wins/draws/dances. TYSM.
Now let’s get on with the art jam.
Did you notice the last two weeks we’ve been focusing on image and text? It’s true.
First, we learned to pay attention to the natural world through Nature Journaling with Visiting Artist Jack Muir Laws. Specifically, we looked closely at two similar but different natural objects, and used drawing and writing to notice and appreciate similarities and differences. Then, last week, we explored our personal collections of meaningful objects by drawing something dear to us and writing the story behind it.
In both instances we were using drawing and writing (image and text) to pay close attention to something we often overlook. This week, we are going to continue this practice of using drawing and writing, but we are going to train that spotlight on something we see A LOT, but might not draw too often: ourselves.
Ever seen one of these?
It’s an anatomy chart. You probably grew up with them in your classroom and still catch glimpses of them in doctor’s offices deeply in need of new decor.
They are also a great example of a simple Visual Story that relies on both image and text. If you were to take away the image and you have a list of items that don’t make any sense. Take away the text and you have an interesting image, but it doesn’t really tell you anything. But together, the sum is greater than its parts. That’s a visual story.
Several artists and illustrators (myself very much included) have used the anatomy chart as a visual storytelling technique in their work. Here are a few fun examples”
The punstress Gemma Correll always makes me LOL with her pet obsession.
For folks who have been in San Francisco Bay Area a while, you may remember this drawing of “SF Hipsters” I made this drawing to accompany a piece by Stuart Weissman (known affectionally as BrokeAss Stuart) in 2011 (maybe 2010!?) It definitely tells a visual story of SF in that moment. Or maybe more accurately: how some people living there at the time saw themselves.
That drawing was included in my book Meanwhile in San Francisco, along with a chart of another important SF personality: The Burrito.
Here’s one more that my friend and a fave artist Laura Park recently made while traveling. Laura always keeps it real.
Also, do you remember the Gnomes book series? The books were published in the 70s and took their subject matter very, very seriously. And I absolutely loved them as a kid. Between us, these books are probably as big an influence on my work as any capital A artist. TELL NO ONE.
These charts are not serious business. They are a fun way to give a new look at a something we are used to seeing: a person, a burrito, a gnome. (What?) But again, they are also a great exercise in visual storytelling.
Moving into our drawing this week… here is a drawing I made THIS WEEKEND:
Backstory: I had a day totally to myself. I’d blocked off time to get a lot done. I had big dreams. Art! Exercise! Groceries! Laundry! Read! Spa day! Instead, I kind of ended up putzing around, re-arranging plants and pillows, and never left the house. I eventually cramming everything I actually needed to do into a couple hours and got nothing else done. Maybe you can relate.
Process: I used a timer on my phone to take a photo of myself. I used the photo as reference for the drawing, then painted it, then added the call outs. Last thing I did was give it a title. And the drop shadow. And add the Taylor Swift music notes. Simple process, super fun drawing to do. Learned something about myself in the process! It was kind of like nature journaling and I AM THE BEAST.
And that brings us to our new drawing Assignment. I invite you to grab your pen, paper, paints (or any colors you’d like to use)…
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