Plotting Scenes In Living Lines

Stories have the power to transport readers into another world, but books aren't written by magic. Lines crafted by hands, head, and heart are at the core of the spell. 

Neil Gaiman
A quote I like to share with students I talk to about the Fairday Morrow series is from one of my favorite authors, Neil GaimanHe says, "Whatever you do, make good art." 

This resonates with me, because as creators making art is our main business. Everything is art, and it's subjective, so all art is good. 

Enjoying the process of your work is the key to connecting with the world around you. 

The most important step in being creative is to square off a space in your life to do it. It sounds easy, but it's not. Every single thing will try to stop you. But, if you want to take your project seriously, you must toss aside external distractions and sink into your work.
Me drawing myself drawing myself.

Brilliant Artists

If your goal is to be a professional illustrator, then it's important to follow the guidelines of industry leaders who have a solid understanding of the techniques and tools used to develop visual images. In this case, you'll need to listen and learn to pursue your passion and build a portfolio for your artwork.

Illustrators who inspire me

Image from Disrespectful Summons

Edward Gorey
Edward Gorey House


Illustration from STARDUST by Neil Gaiman

Charles Vess

David SanAngelo

What Is Meditative Drawing?

I am not an illustrator by any means. I have no professional training and I don't know much about the ins and outs of the art business. Being on the other side as an author, I know it's a challenging career choice, and I'm inspired by illustrators with the tenacity to work in this field. I also feel they don't get enough credit for their contribution to story magic. It's tough to get lines perfect with words, but really tricky with pencils and paint brushes.

In meditative drawing there are no rules, and nothing you need to learn. It's about being you. I have my own weird rituals that go along with my practice, and if you plan to try this, you should make some up too. Once you're in your quiet spot, take a deep breath, let go, and tune into your internal vibes.

I'll light a few tea lights, set up my crystals for good vibes, and fire up the sage. These things play a part in my drawing sessions. They help me relax and focus on drawing.

lol, I am old timey. :)

Tool kit for Meditative Drawing
1. Fresh Ticonderoga #2 pencils
2. Drawing board & paper
3. Awesome pencil sharpener
4. Good vibes and headphones
5. Wild imagination

There are two types of drawing techniques I use. The first is what I call a disciplined drawing. This art is thought out and planned to visualize a scene in a story I'm writing. With this approach, I am trying to make my lines neat, without too much erasing. Though, as I develop my personal style, I have been incorporating more of the second technique I use, which involves the eraser on a higher level. I'll get into that mysterious part later.
The Morrow family moves into the Begonia House.
When Stephanie and I discuss a new chapter in the Fairday Morrow series, I'll take ideas from our conversation and patch them together to create a scene on paper. I'm only drawing for myself and Stephanie, so there's no pressure. Once you stop being concerned about whether or not someone likes your work, it only matters if you're satisfied with it, and that's why meditative drawing is freeing.

Ruby Begonia sees what the high-heeled sneakers can do.
Nooks and crannies of the story are revealed when I sketch out our ideas. The drawing may even change the structure of a chapter, depending on who or what pops into the picture.

Mysterious box of things in the secret third floor room.
We use talking about our ideas, and then looking at the drawings as a way to visualize stories we write together. I ended up illustrating every chapter in The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow and most for Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library

Lizzy arrives at the Begonia House in style.
The Fairday Morrow books have amazing professional illustrators, but my artwork was a unique part of our journey. I enjoy the process, and I'll continue to illustrate the next books in the series.

We made vanity copies of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow with my drawings. It was fun, and it's cool to have one of these very limited editions, though I would NOT want anyone to read it now. Words wrangled in line by professional editors are an important element in casting story spells. 

Fairday Morrow Books
The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow illustrator, Roman Muradov
Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library illustrator, David SanAngelo

The second drawing technique I use is undisciplined and more about erasing. This style came about when I was in elementary school. The art teacher critiqued a drawing I was working on in class. 

He came up behind me, leaned over my artwork, and said, "A real artist never erases."

These words had a huge impact on me. What could that mean? First, why would there be erasers on the end of pencils if you weren't supposed to use them. And, second, who was he to define a real artist?

I started using the eraser to reveal the picture. With this type of illustration, it's the opposite of thinking about scenes in a story and drawing them. Instead, the story develops through the space where I erase the lines. I never have a clue what will emerge on the paper, and sometimes a new idea is born. 

I have many stories that have evolved from this method. Projects I pick away at. Here's a journey into a long time WIP. The characters and setting are complex and continue to expand. Different elements come about in every illustration. I do think the characters are excited to come to life through the blank page. Time is of no essence in meditative drawing. It's true! You should try it. 😀

Night Garden
Cottage #5
Sisters Eye Spell 

Layers of Living Lines- See Shores of Seamessica

~ Go with the Flow ~
Stephanie and Jess teach a writing workshop on using visualization as a tool to inspire stories, as well as incorporate this aspect of their experience into a presentation about crafting a mystery. If you're interested in booking an event with the authors, visit: 
Stephanie Robinson & Jessica Haight 
Here's the Sketchy Scoop on Pencils

Jess's Drawings