Stretch your wings

In my opinion, one of the best things creative people can do is partake in creative work outside their chosen field. Because art sings to art.

For me, that usually means practicing photography, going to an art exhibit, or even just watching a great TV show. (Battlestar Galactica, anyone?) But this month, it mean drawing bugs.

Yeah, bugs.

Friend, fellow writer, and all-around-awesome-dude Dustin Hansen decided to start this thing called #MayAlphaZoo — a daily “sketch” exercise, guided by the alphabet. For a couple days it was just me and him, but quickly enough, other artists of all kinds were joining the ranks.

Designer Loel Phelps works with rich colors and textures. Children’s illustrator Amanda Erb draws critters that kill me with their cute. Musician/sound editor Jason Robison is composing short original scores to accompany Dustin’s animals, while Alternative9 Comics is “robotizing” them. Ben Brooks is making a codex of all the creatures in his Middle Grade fantasy work-in-progress. And like I said, I’m doing bugs. The ants and bees were a coincidence at first, but everyone encouraged me to keep with the theme. What can I say? I bowed to the (positive) peer pressure.

What I love about the #MayAlphaZoo project is how I’ve fallen in with this group of amazingly talented artists that I normally wouldn’t have reason to work with. I’m pushing myself to draw better and stay committed every day. And I’m purposely limiting myself to the Paper by 53 app on my iPad mini, because it’s efficient, because I’ve had the app forever and never use it, and because my design classes taught me that constraints boost creativity.

Maybe none of this will directly impact my writing, but I think it’s improving me — as a problem-solver, as an artist, as a person — and I have to believe that trickles through.

Anyway, here are a few examples of what each of us is doing. Hope you enjoy! And if you want to join in, just tweet your work and hashtag it #MayAlphaZoo. The more, the merrier!

11 responses to “Stretch your wings”

  1. Juliann Avatar

    I can relate to what you said about art singing to art. Drawing has never given me any particular pleasure, but I have found that when I’m feeling most creative with my writing, I also get out my flute. It doesn’t happen nearly enough, but when I’m feeling a creative high, it doesn’t want to be contained. My go-to after writing is music.

    1. Kristan Avatar

      You play the flute? That is so cool! (And doh, you’re reminding me that I really need to make better use of my piano…)

  2. Alice (Krispy) Avatar

    I’ve loved seeing your daily doodles and Dustin’s too! So cool! Totally hear you about different forms of art being mutually inspiring. You’re making me miss drawing!

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Aw, thanks! Dustin’s binturong is my fave so far. <3 You should totally join in on the fun! Even if not every day.

  3. linda Avatar

    Wow, I adore your sketches! And I also have Paper by 53 on my iPad mini. Which I never use. LOL. This is a really cool project. Guess I have to get back on Twitter so I can see all your artwork! :)

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Thanks! And yes, sketches or not, you are totally missed in Twitter-land.

  4. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    Great project! I didn’t realise the Fossa was a real animal after watching Madagascar, oops.

  5. beckywallace Avatar

    How is it fair that you are so multi-talented? IT’S NOT. You are too cool, Kristan.

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Aww thank you! You’re pretty rad yourself. ;)

  6. Meghan Ward Avatar

    That’s so awesome! I can’t draw AT ALL, but you’re good at it! I love photography but have no time for it. I guess my creative outlets are little things here and there – making Halloween costumes for my kids, painting pottery with my kids…my latest creative outlet is practicing the piano. I don’t do it often, but someday I want to start taking lessons and get better than I was when I was 9 (which wasn’t very good.) I’d love to practice every day, but there just isn’t enough time! We miss you over at Writerland, by the way :)

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Sounds like you do quite a bit! And those creative outlets seem so fun. I’d love to take up pottery someday. :)