Art Break Wednesday – Drawing, Writing, and Blind Contours



Want to strengthen your drawing AND maybe your writing, too?  Try blind contours!

Want to strengthen your drawing AND maybe your writing, too? Try blind contours!


A couple of weeks ago, poet, author and writing teacher Amy Ludwig VanDerwater kindly came by to share her “Drawing into Poems” project.  I’ve been thinking about connections between drawing (slowing down to notice details) and writing (sharing details through words).  So for my monthly poetry column today over at Janice Hardy’s The Other Side of the Story, I talk about all this, with a mini blind contour drawing session to boot.

If any of that sounds interesting to you, I invite you to click on over and share your thoughts!  Happy Creating.

Art Break Wednesday: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Drawing Into Poems” project


Hope you are enjoying a Happy Poetry Month!

Today I have a special treat.  Children’s poet and author, sought-after writing teacher, and Poem Farm blog creator Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has embarked on a wonderful project this month that she graciously agreed to let me share here.

Amy LV

Amy LV

Each day in April, Amy has been “Drawing Into Poems” – her daily “drawing/seeing/writing study into poetry.”

“I chose this project because I have always wanted to learn to see better, to understand through seeing, to develop my own sensitivity,” she says in the introductory post here. Logo Amy LV

(Don’t miss the great books she’s listed as resources on that page.  I smiled at a couple of old favorites, THE ZEN OF SEEING by Frederick Franck  and DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN by Betty Edwards.  Others I’m putting on my to-read list.)


Here’s a taste of her project.

On April 4th, Amy shared this drawing of a bowl:

Bowl Good 2 Amy LV

On April 5th, she shared a poem inspired by that drawing exercise:

Cupped Hands 3

Don’t you love all those associations?  And such lovely imagery?

a dream / of old coyotes / a dream / of sun-warm deer” makes me swoon.

Another favorite of mine from this project is her cemetery sketch from this past Monday (April 15):

Cemetery Amy LV

I  LOVE the lively composition here – so much life for such a “grave” subject, no?  And what wonderful reflections, such as the winding thought penned above the arched tombstone, “Always… These tombstones remind me… not to worry…

I’m enjoying Amy’s reflections in her blog posts, too.  Here’s an excerpt from this same day:

What places make you feel grateful and reflective?  It is important for all of us to find places where we can find our quiet selves and just think. Cemeteries slow me down and help me remember what matters most to me.  I wish that I could talk with all of the people buried here, learn from them, hear their lessons.”

My mother instilled in me a love of walking through cemeteries, too – sketching, pondering.  Amy’s drawings and words help us appreciate such contemplative moments and places.

At just past the mid-way point of this project, I asked Amy what she’s learned so far.

“Halfway through my month of Drawing into Poems, I see that drawing and writing are even more alike than I had imagined,” she says. “There’s that initial flash of love, followed by circling around and around, trying to make clear outside what you see and deeply feel inside.  I’m studying shadows now, and roof lines, noticing the silhouette of a milk carton and the way our mother cat’s tail curls around her smallest kitten.  I am seeing more because I am looking differently; drawing has opened up another window for me.  I plan to keep drawing in my notebooks even after April is over so as not to lose these new eyes.”

Amy’s poetry appears in many publications and acclaimed anthologies.  Her first collection for children was released this spring by Clarion Books – FOREST HAS A SONG, illustrated by Robbin Gourley.  Led by a girl in spunky red boots, readers FOREST COVERexplore the woods in 26 poems.  From “Song”:

Under giant pines / I hear / a forest chorus / crisp and clear.

Singing its praises are the most respected names in the field of children’s poetry as well as teachers in the trenches.  You might also be interested in seeing the art for this book develop – Amy includes a page on her website which chronicles Robbin Gourley’s beautiful illustrations as they progressed.

Now, I know you want to click over to Amy’s blog and check out all the art and reflections thus far this month.  And aren’t you thankful we still have a couple more weeks to go in April? :0)

Gracious thanks to Amy for visiting today and sharing her inspiring work!

Art Break Wednesday: Woof!


My post this week for Art Break Wednesday is brief, as I’ve been covered up in dog issues among other things since last week.  So, we’ll take a peek at drawing dogs!

On the home front, we’ve been nursing an ill dog – one of our 13-year-old dachshund mixes (we have two males, littermates) is battling pancreatitis.  Back and forth to the vet, fluids at home, etc. etc.  He’s a trouper and we’re trying to get him over this episode and settled back into a routine.  Also, last Thursday night, I rescued a waif of a little creature from a very busy road in our town.  (Did not exercise the best judgment while driving to do it – thankful for those Thanksgiving guardian angels that must have been close by.)

She’s a little chihuahua.  Not even a real dog! ;0)  Actually, we’ve been unable to locate her owner and she has settled in just fine over here, charming everyone she meets.  Except one of the cats.  I look forward to having a few minutes one of these days to sit down and sketch her.

In the meantime, let me share a great little book I found a few years ago.  Our new diminutive doggie reminds me of some Disney character.  She could really be one.  While I’ll never be a Disney artist, I did grow up in the shadow of Disney World in Orlando and have always admired much of the art, especially in the classic movies.

DISNEY’S DOGS, concepted and designed by Ramara Khalaf and published by Disney editions, offers a great peek into famous and not-so-famous Disney canids throughout the decades.  The book appears to be out of print now, but you might find used copies online.

This book is part history, part art lesson, and a big part fun, with inspiring dog-related quotes sprinkled throughout.  The variety of art styles and personalities of the dogs themselves is a treat to peruse.

The anonymous quote in this spread of dalmatian pups reads, “A house is not a home without a dog in it.”

As an exercise, I have found myself sketching from Disney movies to explore the construction of those terrific, expressive animals.  (I still have my set of Disney album storybooks, which I “played” literally and figuratively, incessantly as a child.  Anyone else remember those?)

Many of our classic Disney movies are VHS tapes, since my kids came along in the 90s.  You can pop one in your VCR (assuming you still have one of those!) and stop the action at any point to do a quick sketch or two.

Some sketches scribbled while watching Disney’s BALTO

Or, sketch freely and quickly as the action unfolds, like a gesture drawing.






Do you have a favorite way to sketch animals?  Any favortie Disney dogs?  Thanks for coming by!