Author and illustrator Elaine Drew explains that successful cartooning is not necessarily about the ability to draw.
"The reason for a cartoon to be successful is the idea behind it," Drew said.
Cartooning depends on the idea more than on the drawing ability, she continued, saying, "There are few visual art forms that demand an idea. Others are interested in textures or the look of color on the page. But cartoonists have to have an idea."
Drew, who has developed many drawing styles of her own, is introducing artists and writers to the benefits -- and the fun -- of cartooning, at a Pleasanton Art League Zoom meeting at 7:30 p.m. April 12.
"We've all got a story to tell, whether we tell it with words or pictures or both," Drew said.
In a free talk called "Comics and Storyboards," she will introduce the many directions cartoons can take.
Drew has had a varied career, including as an artist and designer. She majored in English at Emory University and after graduation accepted a job in public relations that brought her to New York City. When she was about to be transferred to Schenectady, she decided to become an actress.
"I did get hired on my first audition but then it petered out," she recalled. "The odds are definitely not in your favor."
She found she enjoyed design more, studied at Fashion Institute of Technology, and become involved with the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 1970s.
"I worked in restoration and the mounting of exhibits and historic costumes," she said. "I worked on an exhibit of Russian historical costumes with Catherine the Great's wedding gown."
In New York she also studied drawing at the Art Students League, and especially remembers one teacher who thought of everything in terms of their basic shapes, analyzing them and laying them out in proportion to each other.
"I realized later that man had been a cartoonist," Drew said. "That's one of the things I am going to show in my talk."
She explained that early cartoons were drawings meant to illustrate stories, such as those widely used in frescoes in Italy. Figures were also put into large embroideries.
"One of the earliest was the Bayeux Tapestry," Drew said.
This embroidered cloth depicts events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, and is thought to date to the 11th century.
Drew's cartoons range from simple line drawings to intricate characters.
"The wonderful thing about cartooning is just about any style is acceptable," she noted. "When I got interested in storytelling, I already had an extensive art background and decided why not put them together."
Drew moved with her husband to Los Angeles and then to a village in England, and the family was living in North Carolina when he was transferred to Silicon Valley about 20 years ago.
"We began looking for homes and heard about Pleasanton on a fluke and loved it from the minute we saw it," she recalled. "BART had just come in, and I loved the accessibility to San Francisco, and the Oakland Museum is a favorite."
Drew is the author of the humorous romantic comedy "Courting Trouble," a novel set against the backdrop of an early medieval kingdom. The king and queen, having survived her first novel, solve the mystery of a "Nun Too Clever," soon to be released.
Her work has been exhibited in New York, California, Paris and England, and has been featured in many publications. She is currently working on an illustrated tale of a heroic knight who has a very bad day.
"The cartooning I'm doing now is personal for myself," Drew said. "If I feel like playing a little, I will develop the tale I want to illustrate. I am using some illustrations to be more like cartoons, with speech bubbles."
To download her free workbook and sign up for the Zoom presentation, go to www.pal-art.com.
"I am hoping people will get some fun out of it and hopefully some ideas about how to play with creativity," she said.
For more information about the artist, visit elainedrew.com.
Calling student artists
Pleasanton Art League is presenting "PAL's Pals 2021," an art competition open to all middle and high school students of work created between January 2020 and the present.
The first 200 submissions will be accepted and published in the PAL's Pals virtual art show on www.pal-art.com from May 1-31. The show will be judged, and there will be cash prizes and ribbons.
Submissions will be accepted from 8 a.m. April 19 to 11:59 p.m. April 21. Entry fee is $10. For more information, go to www.pal-art.com/exhibits-events/call-artists.