This fall, my brother-in-law, David Mizell, texted with an intriguing proposal:
“Every day for a month, I will draw a character and send it to you. With your help, I’ll make a story for it and then at the end, we can pick one to win it all. Are you in?”
I responded, “Yes, absolutely!”
As promised, every day he would sketch a character and text it to me. I’d reply with some initial thoughts and, together, we’d flesh out a story idea.
For example, here’s Day #13:
30 days later, we had 30 sketches and 30 starts for stories. We plan to identify our three favorite concepts when we see each other at Christmas.
I invited David to stop by the blog to talk about “Sketch and Text.”
Welcome, David! How did you happen upon this idea?
With the first character, the mouse. I sent Priscilla an illustration I did on a boring Sunday night. Really, she sparked the whole thing because she kept asking me questions about the character and I was like, this is super fun, I want to do this more often. Then it hit me like a can of Pepsi on fire . . . What if I do an illustration every day for a month and send them to Priscilla? So I asked that simple question and the magic began.
David texted this sketch with the caption: “He is just a mouse trying to make something of himself in this big world.” Of course, I had questions! I wanted to know his story.
What did you enjoy about this creative exercise?
The stories that came out of the pictures. Some days it was hard trying to come up with one, but usually by the end, I could really fall in love with each character. It was just so awesome to see them grow and evolve over a few text messages. Man, I miss doing it really.
What aspect of this exercise did you find most challenging?
Probably on like the 20th day when I saw the characters I had already drawn and I didn’t know where to go from there. I would try to find inspiration and if none came, I just put pencil to paper and hoped for the best.
I didn’t know about you letting the pencil on paper lead you!
Yeah, do you remember the pig? That was one of the times.
We did cheat on three days, though, and used some old illustrations, but came up with stories for them.
We did. But we also determined the rules in the first place. Even when we worked with what already existed, something new came together. I drew some inspiration myself from a picture book draft I had in a drawer. Your whistling plant sketch sparked that connection for me.
Not every day is going to be perfect. Some days are busy, but you just got to keep the creative juices flowing.
I think the key for us was doing something creative.
Yeah, and I think it is a good trick if you have writer’s block or illustration block.
Definitely. Which I actually had at the time! Since this exercise, I’ve spent more time with my novel-in-progress and created a new cut paper collage, too.
That’s awesome. It helped me find my love for illustration and inspired me to make all those Thanksgiving and Christmas cards for coworkers and family members and find my style.
Oh, I love your new style. The stark ink and bright watercolors are perfect for the paper you chose. Would you like to share a few of those illustrations here?
The musical mermaid is a personal favorite. Do you have any final thoughts to share?
Just do something different and creative that makes you think outside of your box and inspires you to do more. It doesn’t have to be this exercise, it can be anything. All you have to do is start.