Drawing with Charley harper, a no screen day.

Today was a no screen day. I have nothing against computers obviously. Actually, I find that once the craziness removed , they are a very good parenting tool. But we have no screen days.

No screen days are easy days since my son  is able to read. A good book, a few legos, and here we are, quiet for hours. But at some point it gets old and we have to take care of the elephant in the room. It's old and grey and sluggish and it carries a big fat banner  saying " I'm bored!". I'll have to draw it one day, but every mother knows it, with it's tired eyes and stubborn face, refusing any cool usual activity, calling for the mother of invention and thrill and unexpected fun.

I got caught by surprise today, and I must admit I felt a bit sluggish myself, so instead of my usual bag of tricks ( Hi! I design activity books) , I went directly under the shelf. What?!! Said the elephant in the room. Under the shelf was a big treasure : Charley Harper: an Illustrated Life. It's a big, giant book about one of my favorite illustrator. 

We began to  watch the book , and I must say the elephant was still there. But then I talked of pixel art ( we are Terraria and Minecraft fans) , and how Charley Harper simplified geometry illustrations relied on the same process . And we looked for every details and began to watch closely because some illustrations are epic really. I like this book so much, it was not difficult to get very enthusiastic, look at the blue jay and lookout that Trex! bye bye, old grey thing, bye boredom, we were caught.

It would have been fine just like that. After all watching picture books was a kids pastime way before the invention of even the radio. But I noticed that some illustration were inspiring, and I decided to give my son an illustration lesson. See, drawings and illustrations don't come from the bottom of our brain and sparkle like little bubbles. It doesn't work like this. One has to learn from the masters to get inspired. So I explained how to look closely at a work of art, and understand the structure, and copy it, or in our case, try it our own way. 

We drew pages and pages and had fun. When we were not happy, we tried again. We had a lot of fun and when it was time to stop to start dinner, we were in a very good mood.


No screen day illustration lesson:

  1. Find a book with beautiful, simple illustrations ( Charley Harper, Alice and Martin Provensen, Mary Blair are your best bet)
  2.  Study the illustrations. Have fun. 
  3. Note the details you prefer. Look out for animals , objects , flowers. Don't try to copy a whole page. All you will learn is that being a master illustrator is a damn difficult job.
  4. Copy freely, get inspired. Do it too, with your children. You deserve some fun! Don't get frustrated. Try your own way. When you will look at the drawings you made in a few weeks, you will be amazed how cool they are, because you were inspired. I drew a very bad bird but trying again I began to do my own stuff from what I learned and really got caught up! 
  5. When I am stressed out I look for Alice and Martin Provensen hens and chicks  in my library,and spend hours drawing cool chicks.  I know. But it's fun!  

I am thinking of a no screen week. My son drew some really amazing things and I want to see more!