Drawings with Claire & Olive

Here's six new drawings from a spontaneous jam session between me, my partner Claire, and her 11-year old daughter, Olivia. We each started with a blank sheet of paper, made part of a drawing on it, and then passed it to the person on our right. After one round, we had three drawings, each with work by the three of us.

This is a very successful and fun rotation method I've used to create spontaneous comics and stories, as well as drawings. It's a creative conversation using different languages. It's also a great way to engage with your kids and your partner. In fact, my son Reid is often present at these jams, as well. In a future post, I'll share some of his amazing work.

For our first round, Olivia started a drawing with flying pies that she colored:



I then drew an observation platform with a funny little man on it. Claire finished up with the ethereal, angelic, and comically-sized flying pie catcher -- somehow the spirit of woman is tied to pie in this image. She added the dialogue, perhaps inspired by the page I started on this round, which was a comic strip. 


I drew the first panel, Claire (under some protest that she disliked closed spaces) drew the second panel ( a set up for Olivia, since she loves emus), and Olive drew the rest, except for the signs and last cat at the bottom, which I drew. By now, you get a sense of our different styles. I was very struck by Olivia's crossed eyes in her characters. She hasn't normally done this. Her cartoons are often versions of anime characters. However, this evening, I set a collection of Milt Gross' comics on the kitchen table in front of her and I think she immediately absorbed the screwball cartoon technique. Gross' comics are filled with cross-eyed characters (you can read a great Milt Gross Sunday comic at another of my blogs, here). She may also have been channeling my own thoughts. As I said, this rotation method is a conversation -- in this case, on paper.

It's fun to see how we all influence each other. Did you notice that Olivia carried over the bandaged cat tail to the emu? That's a joke I stole from the great screwball cartoonist Bill Holman's cartoon cat, Spooky



Also on round one, Claire started a drawing with a beautiful, empty bird cage.


Olivia added the soulful cat holding a feather, and then I drew the sad figure behind the cage. The whole drawing has a melancholy air. It also resembles some paintings by Claire. So in just one round, we made whimsical and wistful art and had a great conversation, showing each other's influence.

A little tired, but still inspired, we did a second round, producing another three drawings, for a total of six.


Claire was probably thinking of her spring garden when she drew the delightful happy tomaters on the left side of the above drawing. I added the water can, and made it cross-eye, inspired by Olive's great work. Olivia carried on the veggie theme with a terrific drawing of a happy sunflower.

For her start on round two, Olivia drew the dynamic cat close-up in the bottom right of the next drawing:



Claire added clouds and lightning. Drained, I added the second cat head because I couldn't think of anything else. 

For my starter, I didn't care for the first drawing I made, so I just drew a duck with a crown on it. I was thinking of King Duck, a character from a 1934 comic strip called Little Jimmie, by Jimmy Swinnerton. Olivia added a wonderful level of humor with the duck's wacky song, and the drawings of chip bags at the top. Claire then drew the perfect rendering of the elusive "food criminal."


All in all, a great session. Thanks, Claire and Olivia!

- Paul

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