After my first book was published, I was surprised to find out that part of the job was going to schools and talking to large groups of children about being an author.  I did not actually think of myself as an author yet, and I definitely had no idea how to talk about it for an hour at a time to a lively, squirming audience.

At one point, a friendly local bookstore owner suggested that setting up an easel and drawing was a tried-and-true approach.

“Oh, I can’t do that,” I said.  “I’m way too slow.”

Which is generally true.  A drawing like this (my grandmother planting beans) can take me about an hour.

But I think speed isn’t really the issue.  A staple of figure-drawing classes is the “gesture drawing,” where students try to connect with the essence of a pose in as little as 5 seconds.  I always loved doing this.  I remember vaguely (and inaccurately?) hearing that a good draftsman can draw a man falling from a building before he hits the ground. And sometimes I find that a scribble I put down has a satisfying rightness to it.

I have watched Chris Raschka (recently announced winner of this year’s Caldecott Medal) draw for an audience. His drawings were quick, fluid and wonderful, and he was very funny, telling a story as he drew. I think this is a specific genre and skill: Performance Drawing. I think its opposite isn’t necessarily Slow Drawing, but instead, Exploratory Drawing. Which I’m sure Chris R. does plenty of, too.

I don’t have a desire to Performance Draw.

But I do think I could stand to shake myself up a little.  Which might mean picking up some speed.

More on this topic to come. . .