Draw Along with Beloved Cartoonist & Educator Lynda Barry: Free Drawing Exercises Online

How do you res­cue a day that’s gone pear shaped?

Stop­ping to drink a glass of water is one of our long­time go tos.

If there’s a box of match­es handy, we might per­form Yoko Ono’s Light­ning Piece.

Most recent­ly, we’ve tak­en to grab­bing some paper and a trusty black felt tip to spend a few min­utes doing one of beloved car­toon­ist and edu­ca­tor Lyn­da Bar­ry’s all-ages draw-alongs.

Bar­ry began upload­ing these videos ear­ly in the pan­dem­ic, for “friends at home who are about to turn four or five or six or sev­en or any age real­ly.”

Each demon­stra­tion begins with an oval. There’s no pro­logue. Just dive on in and copy the motions of Barry’s slow mov­ing, refresh­ing­ly unman­i­cured hands, cap­tured in a DIY god shot.

Less than four min­utes lat­er, voila! A smil­ing croc­o­dile! (It’s mag­i­cal how a facial expres­sion can be changed with one sim­ple line.)

The sound­tracks to these lit­tle nar­ra­tion-free exer­cis­es are an extra treat. We’ve always admired Barry’s musi­cal taste. It’s a real mood boost­er to cov­er a chee­tah in spots to the tune of a marim­ba orches­tra.

Barry’s also a big cumbia fan, con­jur­ing a kit­ty to Lito Bar­ri­en­tos’ Cumbia En Do Menor, a lion to Los Mir­los’ Cumbia de los Pajar­i­tos, and a Stegosaurus to Romu­lo Caicedo’s Cumbia Cavela.

Now that you’ve got a chee­tah under your belt, you’re ready to progress to a Scor­pi­onLeop­ard, one of Draw Along with Lyn­da B’s “strange ani­mals.”

Bar­ry does offer some com­men­tary as these cryp­tids take shape.

We sus­pect her pio­neer­ing work with a group of four-year-olds in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wisconsin’s Draw Bridge pro­gram leads her to antic­i­pate the sorts of burn­ing ques­tions a pre-school­er might have with regard to these beasts. Her class­room expe­ri­ence is evi­dent. Where­as oth­ers might think a steady stream of bright chat­ter is nec­es­sary to keep very young par­tic­i­pants engaged, Bar­ry’s thought­ful words devel­op in real time along with her draw­ing:

This is a tough ani­mal. It has a big stinger on the back. This is a rough ani­mal… angry.  Put the eye­brows like this. It makes them look angry. What kind of teeth do you think this ani­mal has? I don’t think they have lit­tle bit­ty teeth. I think they have big fangs.

Oth­ers in the “strange ani­mal” fam­i­ly: a Cat­DogSeal­Fish, an octo­phant, and a cat­ter­fly (fea­tur­ing a cameo by Barry’s inquis­i­tive pooch’s snout.)

Draw along with Lyn­da Bar­ry on this YouTube playlist.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Lyn­da Bar­ry on How the Smart­phone Is Endan­ger­ing Three Ingre­di­ents of Cre­ativ­i­ty: Lone­li­ness, Uncer­tain­ty & Bore­dom

Watch Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Barry’s Two-Hour Draw­ing Work­shop

Lyn­da Barry’s Won­der­ful­ly Illus­trat­ed Syl­labus & Home­work Assign­ments from Her UW-Madi­son Class, “The Unthink­able Mind”

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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