Graphic Nostalgia Reflection

For this specific project the process of filtering out how my view on my literacy narrative has evolved remains more complicated than one might initially suspect. I went through two initial drafts of part one for this literacy narrative. The second draft presented a more condensed and shifted topic matter than the first, however, it still dealt with abstract feelings of nostalgia and a wistfulness for my childhood. This intangible aspect was the hardest part to interpret into a visual comic, and after grappling with the concept for several hours I shifted away from the idea of nostalgia in favor of my passion for drawing and painting. At the time of crafting the comic I did not think much of this shift that came from my visual thinking. I thought my passion for drawing was merely a representation of my feeling of nostalgia for those lost worlds I created in the past. However, when I then took the step to recondense the graphic novel into a third version of the literary work, I discovered a deeper aspect to the more visual shift.

In order to redraft my visual work into text I was forced to look at how the piece as a whole had shifted from its literal origins. The ending was the most obvious place, as in the original I had ended on a philosophical discussion of the idolization of my childhood whereas in the comic I had condensed the end into a portrait of different ages of me reading or drawing and discussed how reading reconnected me to that artistic side of me. In translating this back to a literal narrative my message changed even more. When I began thinking about how exactly reading connected me to visuals I remembered how when I was little I would use tracing paper and trace old graphic books such as Calvin and Hobbes, Bone, etc. Then I remembered how in my Junior year of high school –as I rediscovered those old childhood books– I also began to paint and draw again to relieve stress. On a more meta level I also recognized how the entire process of creating this graphic novel about reading was another example of how reading has pushed me back into visual art. These connections all came into place which completely shifted my narrative away from some wistful nostalgia of the past to an exploration of how novels –specifically the graphic ones– allowed me to reconnect to my younger self through art. The last part of the literacy narrative does introduce a quick break down of my childhood books into visual ones versus literal ones and how they operate differently when it comes to nostalgia –which to be honest I think comes off very rushed and is not explained very well– but overall the point still differs greatly from my original piece.

I am really happy with how it turned out, and although I do think the ending could use another draft I’m unfortunately not sure if I will get to it with all of my other finals to work on. This entire process has really emphasized to me how writing is a process. Each redraft adds and takes away concepts from the initial piece. I have never experienced such an intensive topic shift in my work before, and I think that is due to the shifting medium I worked in. As I reflect upon earlier, the entire process of rediscovering art from reading happened to me as I was crafting the comic, which in turn influenced the narrative shift in my “final” redraft. If that’s not a better example of rhetorical composition then I don’t know what is.

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Graphic Nostalgia (Literacy Narrative Part 3)

The first significant memory I have of reading comes from the story of the children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon. I don’t directly remember reading the book when I was little, but rather, I recall finding it again on my bedroom bookshelf, looking through the small pages of the book, and remembering how much I loved the story in my earliest years of life. At this point, however, I did not actually remember the storyline of Harold’s journey, but was instead comforted by the creative feeling the book still inspired in my ten-year-old self. The nostalgia of the beautifully simplistic artistic narrative is –to this day– the most poignant aspect of the book for me. I connected my love for drawing and imagination to the visual story of Harold –as he created his own world and adventures with just a purple crayon and his mind– even though I forgot what he actually created in the story.

This wistfulness for the experience of my youth has woven itself into my consciousness throughout my life. In my Junior year of high school –one of the most stressful years for me– I found myself drawn back to the bookshelf of my childhood. Just as I did when I was ten years old, I searched my shelves for older books that struck some deep emotional chord with me. At the time I knew that a part of me wanted a distraction from my responsibilities of Junior year –grades, college, my future– so I allowed myself to delve back into the novels of my youth. Going back into these fantastical worlds coincided with a rediscovery of my own artistic expression of my imagination through drawing and painting. The easiest books for me to revisit were the more visual graphic novels, which included Bone, Calvin and Hobbes, and Amulet — along with Harold and the Purple Crayon. When I first read these books as a young child I was constantly drawing, and my drawing style was usually influenced –if not directly copied– from the visual styles of Jeff Smith and Bill Waterson (of Bone and Calvin and Hobbes respectively). Thinking back on it, rereading those novels gave me the nostalgia for that artistic passion, and pushed me to start drawing again and set up a painting studio in my basement.

In my Junior year of high school I needed an outlet to escape the stressful world of adulthood. I found that in revisiting my old graphic childhood worlds, but greater than that, it reminded me that I used to be able to create those worlds myself. I also reread other childhood books that were based solely in text, such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, and while I still found those books invigorating and a step back into the past, I did not find them as entertaining to go through as the graphic novels. I now believe this is because the visual medium allows a certain level of ambiguity in its craft. One can interpret the tone, emotion, and flow of a picture in more ways than reading a sentence from a book. So rereading those graphic novels gave me a more clear look into how I perceived the world as a child. I remembered the emotions I felt and how I interpreted various scenes in these narratives more vividly because that visual medium gave my younger self more freedom to explore the less restrained interpretations of the images. The images also stuck in my brain in their influence in my artwork. This secondhand connection furthered my appreciation for that childhood feeling as it reminded me of how I once created my own worlds through a similar type of art.

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How a Camera Works (Sunday Sketch #12)

I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, especially because I had no plan going into it. I think that helped though. Once I realized I wanted to do a diagram of how a camera works I just started drawing, without a full plan for how everything was going to fit together. This allowed me to organically think about how our class is structured. I went from start to finish. First we read a graphic novel, and then we discuss it in class (condensesing the information), and then we pick up what information we want and process it outside of class, and then we display that information through writing, and then we transfer our writing to an assembly of visual images, and then we upload that visual image on our websites. One could also consider our initial perception of the graphic novel (titled “our own perspective”) as the first step, but it doesn’t flow as well like that. As I was making this I came up with the next step as a part of the camera. This process allowed me to incorporate or exclude certain parts of the camera. I could have included focusing the lense, framing the shot, adjusting the settings of the image, or even pressing the record button. I didn’t do this partly because it didn’t fit the structure of the class process I was trying to emulate, which is kinda cheating, but overall I think the piece still flows logically.

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A New Take (stylistically… duh – Sunday Sketch #11)

This one was a really fun one for me. I was not planning on making this one at the time but then as I was rushing through my house (which is five minutes away from campus) picking up some stuff I stumbled upon my old lego collection and this idea struck me. Once I the idea was in my head I couldn’t get it out so I stopped everything I was doing and sat on my floor and played with legos and cut out paper until this creation was made. I’ve never been a big paper cutout person, so this style was different for me, but overall I’m happy with how the whole image came out. The hardest part was getting the camera at the right angle. Initially I planned to hold both pieces of paper (for the background and foreground) and set a timed pic on my phone, but it was too hard to get the angle of the camera to stay steady at such a low position to the ground. So instead I got a stool out and taped the background pic to one of the stool legs which freed a hand for me to operate the phone camera with.

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My First Wedding Gig! (Sunday Sketch #10)

The process for telling this story came very naturally. With the slow increase in number of panels I was at first concerned that I would have trouble finding a five beat story, but when I wrote out a “shot list” I found that they all sort of fell into place. The story could have ended with the third panel, or even the fourth, which makes the last panel not super necessary but I think it still adds enough to justify the entire piece being five panels. I also allowed myself to not care as much about the artistic style for this one. This is in part due to me doing this project late, but also I think due to how one needs to start their style in a small panel which slowly evolves into a much bigger panel. If the style got much more detailed with the bigger pictures it would have felt disconjointed, especially given how on this website they are all the same size.

Empty Nostalgia: Literacy Narrative Redraft

The first significant memory I have of reading comes from the story of the children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon. I don’t directly remember reading the book when I was little, but rather, I recall finding it again on my bedroom bookshelf, looking through the small pages of the book, and remembering how much I loved the story in my earliest years of life. At this point, however, I did not actually remember the storyline of Harold’s journey, but was instead comforted by the creative feeling the book still inspired in my ten-year-old self. The nostalgia of the beautifully simplistic artistic narrative is –to this day– the most poignant aspect of the book for me. I connected my love for drawing and imagination to the story of Harold –as he created his own world and adventures with just a purple crayon and his mind– even though I forgot what he actually created in the story. It seemed that the experience of reading Harold and the Purple Crayon was so integrally molded into my psyche that I could not conjure any direct memories of the book, and instead could only feel the nostalgia for the original experience from my earliest years of reading.

This wistfulness for the experience of my youth has woven itself into my consciousness throughout my life. In my Junior year of high school –one of the most stressful years for me– I found myself drawn back to the bookshelf of my childhood. Just as I did when I was ten years old, I searched my shelves for older books that struck some deep emotional chord with me. My eyes flirted from title to title, yet I was left with this fuzzy feeling of disappointment, as I realized the affection I had assigned to these novels did not have any specific memory of the actual content within them. I have always idolized my childhood as a paradigm of happiness and freedom, and to discover that the foundational children’s books that allowed me to explore my early imagination seemed to be nothing more than empty feelings of nostalgia was disheartening. At the time I knew that a part of me wanted a distraction from my responsibilities of Junior year –grades, college, my future– so I allowed myself to delve back into the novels of my youth. I discovered a comforting sense of childhood joy in reliving the pages of works such as Calvin and Hobbes, Dr. Seus, Bone, and, in particular, Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Looking back now, however, I believe there is a deeper rational in my attraction to revisiting the experiences of my youth. Now that I am living independently in college, and I have officially moved away from the idea of myself as a child, I find myself slowly coming to terms with the experience of my youth. Over the summer I stumbled upon some old home videos of myself when I was little. This unexpected discovery was particularly exciting for myself as it gave me a direct observation of what I was like as a child. To be completely honest, despite how much I have idolized the early years of living without responsibilities, I still struggle with remembering most of my adolescence. In my Junior year of high school, I believe I was facing this same struggle on a subconscious level. I was aware of the general feeling I had from my youth when I read those books, but I became disconcerted to realize that I had forgotten the actual content of the books, and by extension, the content of my adolescent imagination. When I reread my children’s books I got to remember what it was like to be a child again, but additionally, I could prove to myself that the experiences of my childhood were real, and not some distant fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.

The Constant Redrafting of this Project and My Life: A Literacy Narrative Reflection

The hardest part about turning my written essay into a visual comic was putting my pencil to the page to begin drawing. I spent most of my time planning out what I wanted in my head so much so that sometimes I found myself stuck for days working on the same page, without even beginning to draw. The most important stylistic aspect that I wanted to include in my piece was a sense of a full page piece of art. I didn’t want to separate the bits into simple blocks of text and image, but rather, I wanted to create that feeling of “all-at-onceness” when one turns to the next page.

This odd stylistic determination was probably the biggest hindrance to me actually making the comic. For each page before I could make a mark I had to ask myself: what is the purpose of this page? And then I tried to come up with a way to convey that feeling as an entire page, while at the same time spacing in smaller moments of plot structure that still connected to the page as a whole. This thematic sectioning by page also forced me to boil down my essay to the core feelings and ideas I needed to convey to properly show my story visually. In this way I actually rethought a lot of my narrative. How is one supposed to represent the feeling of nostalgia in a drawing? What is the true story I am trying to tell? When I asked myself these questions I ended up changing the actual story slightly. Instead of feeling forlorn at the apparent emptiness of my nostalgia for my childhood, I became inspired to draw again from reading Harold and the Purple Crayon. Both of these feelings are true and both still relate to the feelings my childhood books leave with me, but in my written narrative it was easier to focus on the abstract concept of nostalgia while in my graphic narrative it was easier to convey the desire to draw. In some ways though I believe those are similar things. I’m not sure if I managed to properly convey this in my graphic, but to me the nostalgia for a time when I could spend the entire day sitting around in my room reading and drawing is very real. The fact that this is a simplified narrative –which shifted from the idea of an empty nostalgia and towards the artistic inspiration and fulfillment I received from reliving my childhood– does not discredit the reality of the new visual story.

I played around with the fourth wall breaking idea of Harold for a while before I settled down on the final version. At first I was imagining a scene in which Harold quite literally draws my childhood memories, or even having a younger version of myself draws my memories. Had I more time I would have loved to incorporate color into the piece, either having Harold and my childhood in color, or having everything be black and white until I re-read Harold and the Purple Crayon in a dazzling panel in which I jump inside the world of the book and begin coloring in my old memories alongside Harold. When I was drawing out the middle couple pages of the graphic my mind stumbled upon the visual of me drawing Harold and Harold drawing me. Almost a ying-yang, snake eating its own tail, balance sort of thing. If I were to create a cover for this piece it would certainly consist of that. This image struck a deeper chord in me. To me it speaks to how we are constantly drawing from our pasts and how we are also constantly redrawing our own pasts. Every time I read Harold and the Purple Crayon –or any book for that matter– I am redrawing and reshaping the experience that I previously had from it. I am taking that initial feeling and molding it into a slightly different version. I don’t know if that came across in the story of the comic but I was definitely thinking about that in the involvement of Harold throughout my piece.

How does sleep length effect my alertness?

As you can see (hopefully), I constrasted how much sleep I got, the quality of my sleep (how I felt on a scale from 1 to 10 each morning), and the visual of my natural face each morning.

I was pleasently suprised by the results. It seems that I felt better the more sleep I got (given that these are very rounded answers), and that, at least from my perspective, I generally look slightly more awake in the pictures with more sleep/better feeling. But that’s really subjective and it’s hard to be consistent every morning with making sure my face is in a natural, resting position.

This project was hard. At the very start when I heard that we were doing visual data I immediatly thought of comparing how awake I looked when I woke up (through pictures) versus how much I slept (recorded on the app Sleepcyle). I did not put any thought into how I was actually going to present this data. My main query was wondering if you can tell a difference in how alert you look given more or less sleep. When I brought this idea up in class David suggested I keep track of some other data point, so I decided to also record how I felt each morning on a scale from 1 to 10.

In the last couple days I have spent too much time trying to figure out how to show these three data points (one being pictures) on one visual chart/image. I first leaned towards some sort of graph with data points, because I didn’t want to deal with the pictures. So I created an area graph of how much time I spent in bed versus how much time I actually slept (all over how much sleep I got). I thought it looked super boring however, and I still wanted to find a way to include the pictures. Then I moved to a scrolling system where the further down you scrolled on the pictures the more sleep I got. And finally after I got frustrated with the plainness of that idea I settled on putting the pictures themselves on a horizontal timeline.

Even at this point I hadn’t figured out how to incorporate my third variable: subjective quality of sleep (or rather how I felt waking up). I came upon the solution quite by accident. I was dragging my photos into a photoshop file and resizing them so they could all fit on the page when I thought: “wait what if photo size indicated quality of sleep”. From this point on my frustration from this project looked like this:

here is an example of me spending too much time on this assignment

… and thus I came to what I have in that final image/graph/picture collage.

If I were to do this again I would have figured out how I was going to present the data from the start, because I did not choose very presentable data points (or rather… pictures). This didn’t really change the way I looked at my life, but rather affirmed something I could’ve guessed: I look and feel more alert when I get more sleep. But then again, another person could look at those pictures and drawn the same conclusion. It’s hard to differentiate between “very tired” and “tired” in pictures. I also would have recorded more specific sleep length data.

Alright I don’t really know how to end this. I’m tired and I’ve already spent way too long on this project. Please excuse the casual tone of voice throughout this rambling post. Peace out.

(link back to the assignment)