Starting With An Image

I remember reading a comic in the studio of cartoonist Brian Sendelbach. He had tons of his comics, unpublished pages and paintings lying around. He was always busy, always creating. He had a recent comic that made me laugh, with a fellow in a top hat and a cigar acting like a rock star. I asked him how he came up with this character. At the time I was still new at this and his answer surprised me: “Oh he just appeared in my sketchbook one day.”

“He just appeared? Like, by accident?” Until then I thought sketchbooks were places to consciously experiment, but not places to daydream. Brian treated his sketchbooks like a place to let his mind wander, or like a wild field where wind-blown spores and seeds were sometimes sown and harvested.

We have to allow ourselves to daydream. What we do as artists is HONOR those subterranean images that have sprung from somewhere and grabbed our attention. We need to treat these images like seeds and water them, using work and attention to grow them.

Here’s a doodle, an image from my notes for Ali’s House. It’s not wild or interesting- it’s a guy with his hands in a bucket or pot. But it moved me, so I stay with it. I hang on to it, move it around in my imagination. I hold it.


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