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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