Thursday, November 25, 2010

Picture This HC

Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry's follow-up to her book dedicated to the creative process, What It Is, focuses more on art than creation in general.  There are still some things in here for writers to use to get their creative juices flowing, but it's mostly for those who draw or paint, offering advice on how to prevent "writer's block," and keep being creative, with some inspiring words of wisdom and fun exercises.  Introduced in this book is The Near-Sighted Monkey, a kind of mascot for the book, but of course characters like Marlys are featured heavily throughout as well.  Lynda Barry once again does a great job of being able to identify and articulate what it is that gets in her way of being creative, and offers solutions to get past it.  Along with doodling and drawing for drawing's sake, there are exercises in coloring, tracing and some more crafty stuff to keep people inspired with art lessons.

As more of a writer than an artist, I found that the focus shifting away from the creative process in general didn't speak to me as much as her previous book What It Is, but then again, it was more specialized this time around.  But with that specialization, I felt like Picture This wasn't as dense and satisfying either.  A lot of the pages were merely paintings, which is fine, as it's always nice to see Lynda Barry work her magic (with watercoloring done by Kevin Kawula), but gone were more of the elaborate, lovingly complex collages that I came to admire from What It Is, more straight-forward works taking their place (although perhaps some of her best work yet - I love the seasonal pictures that open each section).  I still felt like I took things away from Picture This, and maybe it was because What It Is came first, and as I've said, is more broad in scope, but I did find myself disappointed by Picture This, perhaps just because I enjoyed her previous work so much, and my expectations were ridiculously high going into her latest venture.  Still, the autobiographical parts in this book are wonderful, and Barry poses some interesting philosophical questions about growing up that are hard to brush off.

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