A Messy Conversation

Today I had the great pleasure of being interviewed for Get Messy Art Journal by one of my favourite Messy Artists, the fabulous Misty Granade.

We talked about my creative story so far, the things that inspire me to create, how there’s no such thing as a beginner, and a whole lot more.

Here is the replay of the interview for you to enjoy!

Autumn Days

Brandi Kincaid, guest artist for the Season of Connection at Get Messy, gave us an inspiring tutorial on creating small books to record our everyday moments. And so I decided to make my own little book and document something each day this past week.

I was eager to experiment with the task of keeping a daily art diary after reading Julia Cusworth‘s article, ‘How I started an art diary and why you should too’, in the wonderful new Brush Magazine. And I’ve been itching to make a mini-sized art journal ever since coming across Torrie Lynn’s incredible series of tiny art journals.

From the first day, I found myself relying heavily on my Tombow dual brush pens. They are so quick and easy to use and create amazing results. I came cross these pens during Julia Cusworth’s Pen + Ink class, and discovered yet more of their amazing capabilities while Painting Galaxies with Katie Smith. I’m certain that if I join the #mydayarted daily art movement for 2018 (and I plan to!) I will be using these pens A LOT.

And now, without further ado, here’s a glimpse into the last 7 days:

It was wonderful to celebrate each day by bringing some moment from my experience into my little book. And what a sense of accomplishment to complete an art journal in the space of a week!

The self-portraits of ‘Igor Stravinsky’

Self portrait July 25Self portrait July 26

It’s been two weeks since ‘Writing the Unthinkable’ with Lynda Barry. And what an incredible experience it was: 5 days in a room with the rockstar hero of my creative world! Writing, drawing, looking, listening, laughing, crying, and doing it all over again.

Self portrait July 27On the train ride back down the Hudson the day the workshop ended, I felt I was returning home with a sack full of treasure I would be enjoying for a long time to come. Since then, I’ve been wondering how to begin unpacking this treasure.

Like all good stories, why not start at the beginning…

One of the first things we did each day was to ‘take attendance’. We took a blank index card and drew a frame. At the top of the card we wrote our camp name (more on this in a moment!) and the date. We then had 2 minutes to draw a self-portrait, making sure to include the whole body.

Self portrait July 28This was a wonderful start to the day. Before we knew it, our hands were in motion and we were already making contact with ‘the back of the mind’ where all the good stuff is!

The first morning, Lynda invited us to choose a camp name for the duration of the workshop. During lunch I considered all sorts of names, but none of them seemed to fit.

Then I remembered a movie I had seen the week before about Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky and I started to laugh out loud in the dining hall. Yes! Igor Stravinsky! That was it! The name was alive. And I felt alive just thinking about it.

At the center of everything we call ‘the arts,’ and children call ‘play,’ is something which seems somehow alive.
― Lynda Barry, What It Is

Self portrait July 29This was one of many such moments during the week when a drawing or a story or a character made me want to laugh or dance or cry with recognition.

Having a camp name was very freeing. It gave me the feeling I could step outside what I normally think I can and can’t do, can and can’t be.

To add to this sense of expanding possibilities, we drew ourselves as fruits and vegetables, royalty, and monsters. We drew ourselves deep beneath the sea, up in outer space, and dancing our asses off at a disco.

We hung our attendance cards on the walls of the workshop room. Pretty soon, the wall was covered with hundreds and hundreds of drawings. The space felt rich and alive and full of energy. Did we really produce all this work? Walking around the space, looking at our gallery of self-portraits, it was incredible to see how the drawings grew even more alive as the week progressed.


Lynda dared us to find a ‘bad drawing’ among the lot. It wasn’t possible! And during the week we got to see that there’s no such thing as a bad drawing. Here’s a page from Lynda Barry’s Syllabus that asks, ‘What is a bad drawing?’:

what is a bad drawing?

Syllabus is an incredible resource, filled with course notes from years of Lynda Barry’s classes and workshops. Many of the exercises we did during ‘Writing the Unthinkable’ are in there!

Drawing a self-portrait on an index card is a great thing to do before starting any creative work. In fact, its probably a great thing to do before starting anything at all. Why not give it a go?

A little goes a long way

4 daily diary pics

The day has been filled with moments far more interesting than I first imagined…

With a house move and renovation on the go, it has seemed lately like there is little time for creativity. Then I remembered the magic that is Lynda Barry’s 4-minute diary. I spent some time over the winter practicing this every day and it has felt so good to return to it.

Tea with an old friend

There’s nothing like sharing a cup of tea with an old friend.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Spend 2 minutes listing what you did during the day.
  • Spend 2 minutes listing what you saw during the day.
  • Write down something you overheard. 
  • Do a quick drawing. (The 4-minute version includes a 30 second drawing. This time around, I took a little longer for this part.)

These few minutes have the effect of turning the whole day into a space of creative possibility.

Often, when I sit down to write about the day, it seems as though nothing “special” has happened. By the time I have made my two lists of the things I did and saw, there is always something I feel excited to draw. Making pictures of these moments, I am able to enjoy them in a new way. And I realise that the day has been filled with moments far more interesting than I first imagined.

Here’s a video of Lynda Barry talking through a timed version of the 4-minute diary. Why not give it a go?

Sometimes a little bit of creativity goes a long way!


The Creative Harlot

For the last few months I have been falling into love with comics. Yet when April comes around I’ll be dancing my way through a month of poetry. What can I say? I’m a creative harlot! This comic explores the anxiety that can arise when shifting from one artistic form to the next.

creative harlot 1

Continue reading

The perfect day: time and memory in comics

'The Perfect Day'

A single day. A single hour. A single second. This week, in Comics: Art in Relationship, our task was to explore the ways in which the same six panels could portray different stretches of time. For such an exploration, memories of summer holidays at my grandparents’ house in Dublin seemed like the perfect subject matter. Continue reading

Tea with a good friend

Diary 3 tumblr

This week, in Comics: Art in Relationship, we’ve been adding an interesting element to the daily diary. Each day, Matt Silady, our inspiring course tutor, has encouraged us to explore relationships both between the images in each panel and between text and image within each panel. Continue reading

Learning online and in real life

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This week, I started a new online comics course with Matt Silady, called Comics: Art in Relationship. This was great timing as I have been missing the Writing and Drawing Comics class I finished recently with Summer Pierre. I have been missing my wonderful classmates and that sense of being part of a group, watching each other take creative leaps. Continue reading

My day as a monster

My day as a monster B:W

Yesterday was one of those days.

When I came to draw my daily diary comic, I thought: ‘If I can draw myself going through my day as batman, why not draw myself as a monster?’ It was so much closer to how I had been feeling. I was reminded how therapeutic making comics can be. Just the thought of it made me smile. Rarrrrrr!

Falling into love with comics

Falling into love II - final

Alas, this is the final week of Writing and Drawing Comics with Summer Pierre! It’s been one helluva journey – both eye-opening and enjoyable. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned over the past 5 weeks: Continue reading

Tony the taxidermist

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Tony is one of many wild and whacky characters that popped up during this week’s Writing and Drawing Comics class with Summer Pierre. I say “popped up” because we had only 60 seconds to draw each character! Continue reading

The joy of lists

9 TV Shows

This week I started the Writing and Drawing Comics E-Course with Summer Pierre. I have never taken an online course before, so I have been amazed at how lively and fun the whole experience has been. Continue reading

Batman and me

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Batman watches telly!

Keeping a daily diary in the form of a comic strip has been a lot of fun. Sometimes, however, there are only so many ways to depict yourself eating cereal or doing the laundry. It was time for a new spin on things. Continue reading

No words allowed!

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Rain on the beach

Recently, I’ve been keeping a daily diary inspired by exercises in Lynda Barry’s Syllabus. One variation on the diary is a 4-panel silent comic showing yourself in scenes from the day. Continue reading