Monday, June 28, 2010

Lynda Barry's "What it is"

I spent a healthy amount of time at the library today, and found Lynda Barry's Graphic Novel/sketchbook diary titled "What it is." It is a lovely compilation of self-directed visual exercises into an exploration of images, making things, creating, and attempting to explain some of the reason behind art as a stream of consciousness. Lynda Barry is a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator and teacher, known for various comic book series, books, and particularly her comic strip “Ernie Pook's Comeek.” Her book reminds me just a little of the recently published Kal Barteski book, "Love Life." Lynda says that much of what is in the book are exercises she uses with her students to get ideas flowing and the mind engaged in making something it doesn't have to think about. Based heavily in a combination of drawings, writing, and collage each page is full of something-sometimes silly images, sometimes ominous, sometimes endearing, and sometimes with dream-like qualities.
Drawn and Quarterly, the publisher of the book, describes it as follows:

"What It Is” is based on “Writing the Unthinkable” which is based on a tried-and-true creative method that is playful, powerful, and accessible to anyone with an inquisitive wish to write or remember. Lynda explores the depths of the inner and outer realms of creation and imagination, where play can be serious, monsters have purpose, and not knowing is an answer unto itself."

Mixed in between the pages of artistic Inquisitions are pages devoted to telling Lynda Barry's story of what art means to her. She tells her own story of growing up, creating, and what it meant for her to create and how that changed as she got older. These sections are told in graphic novel form, but less confined than most, with more of a sketchbook feel to them.
Most pages have yellow legal loose leaf hidden in the background, and I would have loved to have seen the original pages-would love to touch them, and feel the textures of the papers and fabrics that had been glued down to complete each collage page.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes to create, and who sometimes feels stuck, because this book will help to inspire you a little(at least it did for me). Or, even if you don't feel stuck, check it out anyways. I find myself not satisfied with only viewing it at the library, and may have to order it for myself.

Here is an amazon link to it:

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