November 19th 2000
YouCanDraw.com's Insiders Communique
In this issue -
1) Jump-start your drawing practices
2) Technical changes
November 19th 2000
1) Jump-start Your Drawing Practice
Want to get a little extra juice into your drawing sessions without spending
any extra money? Using just the materials you already have? With just a
little extra space at home? Here's one answer. Build a home made cubby hole
for the sole purpose of psyching yourself up for drawing - specially built
for those days when you want to draw but just can't seem to get started.
Introducing Doug Hall: "Master Marketing Inventor"
How to do that? We're going to take a little tangent here. Doug Hall who
wrote the book "Jump Start Your Brain" might just have a method for you.
Doug Hall is the nations highest paid "Master Marketing Inventor" - he makes
on the order of 100 to 150 thousand dollars for 3 days worth of work. What's
he do? He invents new products, their packaging, and develops marketing
strategies for Fortune 500 companies. He's a "brainstorm consultant" (he
doesn't care for the word "creative"- he says that's just a little too
high-minded for the kind of work "making" things really is.) And what's
"making" things, or building things , or inventing things all about? To him
it's a "roll up your sleeves, jump in the water, suffer through it, get
down and dirty", affair. (Does that sound familiar? )
His forte though is coming up with new ideas. Great new ideas. In fact
there's an average of 18 products in EVERY North American household that
he's either invented or has had a hand in their invention. He's developed a
program that's predicated on making the process fun: groups having fun just
plain come up with the best ideas - on the order of 500 to 1000% more
"wicked good" ideas.
Mr. Hall has invented what he calls the "Eureka! Stimulus Response"
method. I know, kind of nerdy but still a likable name. But his method
works. How's it work?
In a nutshell you saturate yourself with images, ideas, sensations, words
and stories -after you purge yourself of any expectation, outside pressures.
Actually, the process of saturating yourself with "stimuli" obliterates the
"groan" factor of duty - the expectation that tags along with something you
just HAVE to do. This literally "jump-starts" your brain neurons.
Heres' the steps
First acknowledges the problem (or "challenge" as these corporate positive
thinkers like to "frame"it...I'd say it you're stuck, it's a problem.). No
running from it. Second, in brainstorming, the usual progression is to now
sit down and rack your brain, twist it, contort, yank on it, or bang it
against a wall. All the while you're locked away in a room with stale air,
no light or artificial light, and a heavy-handed deadline passed on down
from a hypertensive, over-pressed, over-stressed boss.
Of course, we're drawing here right and no one's pressuring us, right?
Wrong. Who do you think lays on the guilt when we don't do our daily
drawings? (Or every other day drawing sessions.) I know I give myself a
little smack on the back of the head every time I pass by the drawing room -
when I'm supposed to be drawing.
It's there - the pressure, the expectation. I impose it on myself and I'm
often not even entirely conscious of it. But it's tossed in there with the
pressure to pay the bills, do the wash, clean, tune up the car for winter,
blah, blah, blah. I don't know about you but some days all these demands can
drive me half bats.
Somehow, have some fun
Mr. Hall says you have to make things fun to make the task enjoyable - and
when you can do that "work" just got a whole lot easier. Easier said than
So rather than go the old "brain drain" route like the average corporate
brainstorm sessions, he goes about it like this: don't waste one second
forcing anything - that just raises resentment and anxiety.
Here's how he starts: after a short group introduction all participants are
given official permission to go nuts. Mr. Hall, the residing trickster,
unhoods a small mountain of nerf machine guns, and a nerf gun battle ensues
- complete with Zydeco band boinging along in the background, high pressure
squirt guns blasting , bubble machines - anything to break the corporate
heavy-handed spell. And that's after a red carpet welcome where literally a
red carpet's rolled out for the participants. No ties, no uniforms, loose
clothing only. Corporate rank is left at the office. This is the
decompression step. Let them have fun - that's what he's proven works 500
to 1000% better than the old whips and chains method. Now they're ready
Part two is the "Stimulus-response" session. If they're doing a corporate
New Product session one approach might be to look at every product that's
ever been made even loosely related to the one they're to. That's pretty
mundane, but it gets the "easy pickin's" out of the way. Then they pull a
card out of card file that lists 50 things that have nothing to do with the
product at hand. They look at products, they feel products,. they taste the
product, they free associate, they listen to a product, (even if it's
"chicken cacitorri"). If they're looking for a watch for blind people, you
know it's got to be one that tells you time by touch or sound....music is
blasting off the juke box now. Kind of like holding a meeting in a frat
party, Dr. Seuusian circus atmosphere.
When an idea is presented (which is like constantly) they're never
critiqued. They're fodder to spun off still more ideas. Ideas from totally
different areas are slammed together and a link - no matter how far-fetched
is found. What do Admiral Beard, M and M's candy, and a water bottle have
in common? "It's the long shots that spawn the best ideas" says Hall.
Music and Memory
Morning brainstorming sessions are timed every 4 or 5 songs on the juke box.
(Four songs in a row, like the Batman theme, Jeopardy, the Beverly
Hillbilly's theme, some plain old upbeat commercial hits, old motown - music
like this might back-up the first 6 rounds of brainstorming in the morning.
Music with lots of associations, lots of memories attached is the best fare.
Sessions are closed and the groups are re-organized before any sign of
They take lots of breaks and on those breaks it's another onslaught of just
plain fun things: canoe battles, team pinball, go-carting (they even have a
go-cart course in the huge backyard!). And they drink tons of coffee. All
to keep the brain from getting drained. And it eases tensions because
sometimes idea-spawning gets heated (especially when an employee further
down the totem pole has a better idea than his boss and the boss is an idea
"strangler" to begin with.) Conflict is met head on, resolved. Then back to
more idea-making. (Sounds pretty "lickety-split, doesn't it?)
Keep changing it up!
And they go on like this changing group sizes, group members. Incidentally
participants are tested before they ever get to the actual event to see if
they're "idea people", "order" people - as in "keeping the order" -
analytic people, intuitive etc. One interesting addition: each corporate
session is matched person for person with "trained brains" - outside people
with no affiliation to the company - who have a totally different
perspective and aren't influenced by the corporate politics. (There's a
comedian , a chemist, a local talk show host, several entrepreneurs, and -
even Tom Wilson - the guy who invented the cartoon "Ziggy" here on one
particular occasion. ) Hand picked for the special occasion out of a Rolodex
of 100 or more similarly qualified people. And that's all they do that
first of the three days: spew ideas by the hundreds. By the thousands.
During the entire session there's a constant stream of outside "stimuli"
(there's that laboratory word again.) like "boingy" music, basket of baskets
full of objects, products and toys with things that grab your imagination.
Even food - gourmet and exotic. Bottom line is this: with all this sensory
stimulation, the brain just has to respond and - as Mr. Hall demonstrates -
it does so effortlessly in the form of a never-ending stream of ideas, and
idea spin-offs. And they go on like that for 10, 12, 16 hours. (Of course
THEN the critiquing starts. You knew that eventually would come - the search
for 30 of the best, most marketable ideas begins.)
Where do we draw a connection?
So what the heck does this have to do with drawing? I know, I'm asking
myself the same thing. I was pretty impressed by the video these guys sent me (it looked like so much fun I wanted to sign up to be a trained brain - but they said they weren't looking right now).
So here's my take on all this.
Remember the time you went to the library or book store and just started
going through book after book and at some point something caught you, you
got "fired up" about the subject? You didn't have to work at it, it just
You've probably figured it you for yourself a hundred times: got a task?
Need ideas? Pick up a magazine, talk to friends, go to a book store or the
library for ideas - so much easier than squeezing your own brain like a dry
I remember going through watercolor books recently and getting absolutely
excited about drawing. In fact once the fire was lit, I spent the next hour
and 45 minutes going through book after book getting more and more "picture"
ideas as I went. Heart rate picked up, I became so immersed in the books I
forget about the music, other people, my sore feet, I was "seized". I
couldn't get home fast enough to try out the new technique or read about how
the artist did what he did. (And I inevitably ended up spending 30, 40, 50
dollars or more on another drawing or painting book(s) - and often times
because it one or two pictures I just fell in love with.)
Ever happened to you? C'mon admit it.
'Course somewhere between waiting in line to buy the book, getting caught in
LA traffic, and just plain old fatigue from a long day of work, I lost some
of the excitement. Got home, kicked back on the couch with the book and in
60 seconds I was asleep. Good intentions. No production. Of course other
times I just got drawing and once I actually got drawing the drawing
So here' the crux of this email: how do you get yourself fired up when
you're having trouble getting started? So how do you make your own "Eureka!
Stimulus Response lab" for drawing?
("He's finally getting to it".)
Here's a few suggestions:
Collect all your drawings. Keep or build a collection of clipped art - of
both caricatures, paintings or just plain old photos from newspapers. (Go
through that stack of "throw away" magazines, brochures and ads and clip the
pictures you like. Toss the rest.
Go to Target, or the local flea market and get a small bookshelf where you
keep nothing but your favorite art or drawing books (or the subjects YOU
like grouping together). Keep it separate from your other books - miles away
from any book or books that remind you of duty. You need a space that's your
sanctuary. If you collect things - pottery, model boats, beer cans,
guitars, dolls o it doesn't matter keep them close by too.
Build a collage. When I first started caricaturing I put tougher a collage
of 20 or 25 of my pictures. Every time I looked at it I felt this surge of
pride: "I did that".
Keep all your notebooks, loose drawings paper - whether you like what you've
drawn or not - get them in one space. Get a second small radio or CD player
for your room or space that you keep just for your drawing sessions. Get a
short low-to-the-ground comfortable chair: now you can camp-out in front of
Take the "collage building" to another level: take that collection of your
favorite clippings you've (the ones you've clipped from newspapers,
magazines), and paste them down to a big board of stiff drawing paper or
cardboard. Arrange them in any fashion that "feels right". Keep all this in
the same area as your bookshelf. (If you've never done this, start clipping
and collecting graphics or photos you like. (Again this is a great chance to
start sorting through that stack of magazines behind the kitchen table or on
a kitchen chair.)
The Pre-Drawing Session
Then give yourself 20 to 50 minutes where you just take it all in - plop
yourself in front of all this and have yourself a visual "binge". Look over
you own drawings, read through the books, review your caricature collection,
review your graphics arts collection. Flip through your art books. You want
an ongoing image stream. An "image stream" is just what it sounds like -
rather than drain your brain trying to muster your own excitement, this is
the outside help - right out of your own home made resource section.
Then, after a good warm-up you're sure to muster up to the actual drawing
paper and start making some marks - copy some one else's drawings. Usually,
once you get pencil to paper, you're over the barrier. (Of course I always
recommend a five minute "as bad as I can draw" drawing - take the pressure
off to do big ART, and just draw.)
Do I practice what I preach?
Have I tried this? Or am I just "laying this on 'ya"? I'm looking - as we
speak, er, type - at my own new bookshelf with all my favorite books and all
my drawings close by. All my drawings are right there, and I pull them out
from time to time and even when they looked bad at times, it's a whole body
of work - my inventions and that gets me going.
More to this than meets the eye
See, there's something much deeper going on here. When you've made your own
little resource center/museum/studio/playroom (even if it's just a corner of
a room), you're really looking at yourself. When you're surrounded by things
you have strong feelings for, things you love and inspire you, something
else inside you gets "called up". Your imagination gets rolling again. And
now your "pre-drawing session" can find a little bit of soul in it - it's
not just a "session" anymore, not just an assignment. And now maybe you can
come up with your own "wicked good ideas" and drawings.
2) I have to apologize for being a little late with the latest communique.
There's been so much going on around here! We've installed a whole new
high end, state of the art, multimedia computer workstation and we're trying
to get it networking correctly with the old machine. (Not always a smooth
transition.) This new computer is complete with Flash 5, After Effects,
digital sound and video editing - just to name a few.
Yes, the learning curve will be steep but we hope to start adding sound and
multi-dimensional drawing lessons in the not too distant future: all to
make these lessons the most understandable, highest impact, user-friendly
on the net - maybe anywhere - outside of a classroom with a really good
teacher. I really do want to see you learn how to draw.
For those in the States - have a Happy Thanksgiving and for those of you
outside the USA, have a great week and a safe and happy Holiday season.
(Can you believe it? It's started!)
Keep on drawing!
Kasbohm & Company's
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