Friday, February 1, 2019

Friday Feature: Sketchnoting

When I was a little girl, I used to try to draw Winky. In case you're too young to remember Winky, she was the deer who graced matchbooks and the inside back cover of the TV Guide in advertisements that dangled the offer of cash prizes and art scholarships. I remember sitting in my grandmother's living room, trying to recreate the drawing that looked oh-so-simple.

That was when I first became convinced I had no artistic talent.

When I worked at East York Elementary, a man named Bruce Van Patter came to our school as a visiting author. Bruce could most definitely draw Winky. He'd written some books, but what fascinated me about Bruce was his ability to draw on the fly. As he nudged the kids to create a story of their own, he sketched away with a Sharpie marker, creating wonderful blackline illustrations that he left behind to line the putty-colored hallways.

Bruce and I connected as fellow authors, but the stronger connection was geographical. Bruce lived in the town where I'd gone to college, and today, years after his visit to East York, we remain connected via social media.

It was through Bruce, indirectly, that I stumbled across sketchnoting. Enamored of Bruce's live scribing work, I became fascinated by a simpler version that could be used in the classroom by visual thinkers. I sought out sources, looking first for information to share with my students, but the more I learned, the more interested I became. I bookmarked Doug Neill's Verbal to Visual site and put The Sketchnote Handbook and brush markers on my Christmas list; last Monday, I added sketchnoting to my list of 19 Things for 2019 (#14).

I'm not sure that this qualifies as what I'm reading -- which is what I usually post in my Friday Features -- but The Sketchnote Handbook is most definitely a book, one I pulled out last night to play with while I watched my favorite Thursday night television shows.

I'm still not sure if I can draw Winky (and I'm definitely not quitting my day job), but I look forward to doing a little more experimenting with this combination of words and pictures on the page. It's relaxing and appeals to my creative side in a low-pressure kind of way.

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