When I read that Paul McCartney composes without ever having learned to read music, it surprises me.  Not because I don’t think it’s possible.  It just seems to me that a person who loves music might have found the time and the interest, in a fifty year period, to explore how fellow musicians have communicated their ideas through time and distance.

And yet, here I am, writing and illustrating books when my formal training is in fine arts: drawing and printmaking.  Related, but not identical.  There are plenty of times when I think I need to go back to school, to learn all that stuff I missed, the stuff everyone else in my field already knows.

So last November, when I came across a small book called Cartooning, Philosophy and Practice, by the cartoon artist Ivan Brunetti, I snapped it up.  It turned out to be a “classroom in a book,” a 15-week course in telling stories with pictures.

I calculated that I would work my way through the book and have lots of new skills by February 24.  Which is tomorrow.

So far, I have done 2 of the exercises.  I got distracted.  By good stuff: I am in the middle of writing 2 stories.  And those first exercises, which involve drawing a series of subjects in time periods from 3-4 minutes down to 5 seconds, and then a whole series of 5-10 second drawings, led indirectly to this blog, where I am going to try to regularly share drawings that I complete in 1-2 hours.  For me, that is superfast.  I think it will be challenging, stimulating and fun.

To quote Mr. Brunetti out of context, “. . . when we really have too little time to think about the drawing, we get closer to the ‘idea’ or essence of the thing being drawn.”

How the moon looked that night

Will I get back to the 15-week course?  I don’t know yet.  I kind of hope so.  Maybe it will be the diploma from the Wizard of Oz that I have been missing.