Monday, September 26, 2011

Bushcraft: Shrinky Dinks!

Just like my comic alter ego, I love hanging out with my creative friends. And after having way too many conversations with people saying that "we should hang out and make stuff just for fun sometime," my friend Bishop and I decided to start a little monthly artsy gathering at his studio in Bushwick.
Hence the birth of...BUSHCRAFT!

For our kick-off adventure, we decided to make shrinky dinks. Because we're grown ups.
First we drew out/traced our images onto the shrinky dinks with markers and colored pencils...
Just to show you how small it gets, here's how big the shrinky dink was before...
...and how big it is after baking!
They curl up in the oven all crazy-like before flattening back out.
It's very suspenseful and exciting watching them in the oven. See? Just look at Alyson's face!
Here's most of the shrinky dinks we made as a group...And this is my favorite of the ones I made. I'm gonna make it into a necklace...
Oh, and we were also celebrating BIRTHDAYS! Kurt, Bishop, and myself all have birthdays this same week. Yay cupcakes!
Back at home...Rory wasn't sure about another ginger cat in the house, but he's adjusting!If you'd like to try this at home, I highly recommend it! You can buy refill packs online and it costs about $5 for a pack of 6 blank sheets.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Comics Quick Draw! @ Brooklyn Book Festival

Here's the recap from the Comics Quick Draw event
at the Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend!

I drew live on stage with the lovely comic creators Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy) and Raina Telgemeier (Smile). We were featured in the Publishers Weekly blog about Comics and Graphic Novels at the Brooklyn Book Festival, as well as a Publishers Weekly article Children’s Books at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival: A Photo-Essay. You can see all our individual drawings here on Pop Culture Spectrum!
We had a GREAT crowd who gave us bizarre and entertaining suggestions for things to draw.
We had just 3 minutes to draw each picture, and it went by fast! We had time to do 7 rounds...

We talked about the drawings after each round, and at the end we gave all the drawings away to the kids. Then we signed books!
Let's see, here's my giant powered donut being bombarded with sprinkles...
And here's is my version of an elastic man (I thought he should be playing basketball)...

Finally, here's a collaborative one we all did of a dragon and a hippo on a catwalk. (I drew the dragon, Dave the hippo, Raina the crowd)

Thanks everyone who came out! I hope everyone had as much fun as we did.

Currently Reading: Habibi by Craig Thompson (Birthday gift for myself! It's amazing....)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Drawing & 2nd Book Update

So what's the update on my 2nd graphic novel? Well, last week I finished the pitch and sent it along to the higher ups. Hooray! So we'll see what happens.

The working title is Will & Whit, and it revolves around the characters I introduced in my blog back in June. Here is the short summary...
"As lamp-building teen Willy wraps up another summer in her mountain town, she longs for unplugged adventures with her fellow creative friends Autumn, Noel, and Reese. Little does she know that she will get her wish in the form of a whimsical arts carnival and blackout thanks to a hurricane named Whitney, which forces Willy to face her fear of darkness and the living shadows that shed light on her true self."

With these new characters, I thought I'd start drawing some short little comics so I can get to know them better! (And play around with style) This one is called "Willy the Dude."
Here are the individual panels so it's easier to read!

Currently Reading: Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Monday, September 12, 2011

This weekend! Brooklyn Book Festival

THIS WEEKEND I will be at the Brooklyn Book Festival!

I'll be taking part in a DRAW-OFF with the amazing (and super-nice) Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, hosted by Calvin Reid from Publisher's Weekly Comics World. Since I've been working on Christmas windows so much lately rather than comics, I'm feeling a bit rusty with my drawing! So it'll definitely be interesting.

It's Sunday September 18th at 11:00am. It is FREE and will be at Brooklyn Borough Hall: 209 Joralemon Street. (Subways: ACF Jay Street, R Court Street, 2345 Borough Hall)

Currently Reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (audiobook)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Now available for SCHOOL VISITS

I am officially available for hire to give school presentations, lead creative workshops, and design/collaborate on murals!

You can see the specifics on my website, but here's the jist of it...

I open by playing the video trailer for Page by Paige, introducing myself, and introducing my graphic novel. I briefly run through my journey from nerdy student to teacher to artist, accompanied by embarrassing photos. I bring one of my sketchbooks, which were the core of my artistic development, to share in person. I run through my creative process of turning a raw emotion into a metaphorical drawing through visuals that show each step.

I discuss my unexpected discovery of graphic novels. I share my early attempts at sequential storytelling, show how my visual style evolved, and what I struggled with. (Like drawing hands!) I explain my intention in making Page by Paige, which was to share how creative expression can teach life lessons and encourage self discovery as it did for me.

Students receive artistic licenses and sign fun permission slips. Then a few student volunteers participate in a live reading of a excerpt from Page by Paige accompanied by the corresponding comic panels. I wrap up by answering questions from the students. In addition...
Students also get a Paige-inspired sketchbook activity guide, teachers will receive a Page by Paige discussion guide, I will create a Paige-inspired chalk drawing in front of the school during my visit, and a signed copy of Page by Paige will be donated to the school library.

With smaller groups I can do workshops rather than or in combination with a presentation. These are designed to promote introspection and reflection through creativity rather than technical production skills:
The Art of Sketchbooks: Students either learn how to make their own sketchbook or simply try one of my go-to sketchbook activities.
Mirror Self Portraits:
Students reveal who they really see when they look in the mirror by drawing on actual mirrors with wax pencils.
Reprogram Yourself Self Portraits:
Students work on changing one of their own perceptions of themselves by creating a drawing completely out of words.
How are You? Self Portraits:
Students will identify some of THEIR own personal symbols so they can draw a simple self portrait using their own metaphor.

I can draw a mural out for your school and paint it personally, or simply design it with the intention for the students to paint it collaboratively. Fee would depend on size, complexity, and time frame to execute. I have extensive experience doing large scale painting from working as a freelance muralist/scenic painter since 2004. (Portfolio here)

If you have any questions or if you are interested in bringing me to your school, please send me an email:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Discussion Guide

For all you educators and literary types out there...I've written a discussion guide for Page by Paige! Why? Because I want to help promote bringing graphic novels into the classroom as an emerging literary form. Because there are some really exciting similarities and differences between graphic novels and prose novels. So let's help teachers out with more educational tools!

Note: I'm trained as an art teacher, so I hope none of you legit language arts teachers out there take offense if I act like I'm the literary expert. Because I'm not! I just hope that this guide be helpful in starting conversations with students. If you don't like it, here's a silly photo of me in Ghana to make up for it!

Page by Paige
Discussion Guide

**Literary Analysis**

Graphic Novels as a Format:
Graphic novels continue to be a source of debate in language arts classrooms. Since Page by Paige relies heavily on illustrating Paige’s internal world, how would it have been a different reading experience if it was made as a prose novel instead? What makes visual storytelling different than prose storytelling? Some scenes don’t have any words and let the pictures do the talking, so is that still considered literature? You can discuss the format more at large by asking the question if reading comics and graphic novels develops literacy skills. This can also be a good topic for a class debate. Or you can use this as a segway to discuss other forms of visual storytelling, such as Trajan’s Column or German woodcut wordless books.

Page by Paige is simply swimming in metaphors, because it’s how Paige translates her experiences and processes feelings so she understands them. Select an example and have students describe the image visually, what they think is being expressed, and if it can be interpreted different ways. For example, an image of being submerged in water could be interpreted as calming or terrifying depending on the individual reader’s point of view. Did you notice any reoccurring motifs, and what do you think it symbolized? Students can also be invited to come up with their own examples of how Paige would illustrate a scene from their own life.

Some of the drawings in Page by Paige illustrate specific common expressions, making them more of a simile than a metaphor. For example, instead of writing that she feels so vulnerable it’s like she’s walking on a tightrope, Paige is actually walking on a tightrope. After analyzing examples in the book, invite students to illustrate a saying they use themselves. (Such as “walking on eggshells” or “being an open book.”)

Continuing on the theme of figurative language, you can also follow a similar process of analyzing personification in Page by Paige. Have students look for an example of when an object or abstract idea comes to life with human characteristics to interact with Paige. (Such as Paige’s heart or paintings at the museum that talk to her.) What do you think is the deeper meaning? What does the object in the scene symbolize for Paige?

**Visual Analysis**

Nonverbal Communication:
Since the characters are drawn, the reader can interpret a character’s thoughts and feelings through more visual cues. Select a scene from Page by Paige and discuss what you can learn about a character through their facial expressions and body language. (Such as when Jules confronts Paige about their friendship or whenever Paige interacts with her Mom.) Does this sometimes contradict with what the character is saying verbally?

Style Duality:
The look of Paige’s inner world and external world are drawn differently. Why do you think the artist drew it this way? Have students articulate the difference in their appearances such as the shading, imagery, tone, and composition. How does the layout/composition influence the pacing? How does the line quality and shading style create a tone? Ask students if they themselves sometimes retreat into their own head, and what their mental realm is like. Is it a loud, colorful, dark, quiet, cluttered, etc? Does this contradict how they act and/or their physical environment in the real world? Is it an escape or a prison?

Word Art:
Sometimes Paige uses words visually to express what she isn’t saying out loud. For example, when she begins her new school she imagines the signs with words of encouragement on them as a sort of pep talk. Is there anything that you tell yourself when things are rough, like a personal mantra? Then in other moments of Page by Paige, her imaginary words express her doubts and fears. They literally cloud her head. Are these things real issues or has she simply built them up in her head? Why does Paige doubt herself? What would your doubt clouds say?

Like many introverts, Paige has two sides: who she presents to the world and then who she is inside her head. She uses a creative outlet to merge the two more together. Do you feel like two different people sometimes? When you pour your heart into something private such as a journal, diary, instrument, or sketchbook is that a substitute for friendship? Is Paige’s sketchbook a character in the story?

**Other Themes for Discussion**

Parents...Paige censors herself in front of her mother and avoids sharing her sketchbook with her until the end of the story. Why does she distance herself? Do you think she is acting out of anger? Ask students if they do the same thing with their parents.
Friends...Paige’s friends all reflect back different qualities of herself. How does each friend help her? What traits, qualities, and skills do your friends bring out in you?

Throughout the story, Paige struggles to adjust to life in a big city and makes the city feel more like home by hanging up drawings of trees. Do you think she has evolved into a city girl or will she always be a country girl at heart? What are the benefits and drawbacks of living in the big city versus a small town? If you have moved to a new town yourself, what did you do to make it feel more like home?

Street Art:
Street art has grown to be more accepted by the art world, but still stirs up controversy. Would you consider wheatpastes like the ones hung by Paige to be vandalism or is it art? What’s the difference between Paige’s street art trees and graffiti tags? This can be a good opportunity to introduce students to other street artists such as Banksy and Swoon, or to perhaps have a class debate.

Online Criticism:
Paige struggles with criticism of her artwork when she posts it online, taking the comments very personally. Have you ever had a drawing criticized in an art class? How would that feel different than having your art criticized by a stranger online? Do you think it’s easier to be mean online since you don’t have to see the other person face to face?

Currently Listening: The Naked and Famous...Passive Me, Aggressive You