Meditation for Artists – The Automatic Drawing Technique

Tim: Okay, everyone I’m Tim Gula. I’m here to teach you how to do quicksketch. Stan: Tim Gula is one of those guys that floor
you when they tell you their history. He worked with Frank Frazetta and Moebius,
major studios like Disney, Marvel, and DC. He studied with Alex Nino and Fred Fixler
who was a direct student of Frank Riley. When he was a kid, Jack Kirby invited him
to a studio to watch him draw. Tim: Yeah, I would over his shoulder and he
wouldn’t speak. He’d be in a trance. You know how like with me, when I do the figures,
there’d be like rough drawings and indications, the pencil would hit the paper and it wouldn’t
stop until the page was complete. And it just like it poured out. And I remember just looking and being over
his shoulder thinking, how is that possible? how is that possible? And I remember just like feeling so inadequate. And here’s a page to say, I don’t know, Mr. Miracle
or Kamandi. And I would think, how is that possible? The pencil would just hit the paper and the
page would just be done. There wouldn’t be any indications, no rough
drawings. It just started off and then it was done. Stan: Was it kind of like Kim Jung Gi? Tim: No, what’s that? Stan: It’s an artist. Tim: Okay, yeah the Korean guy. Yes, exactly, it is exactly that. But Kirby would do a whole story, a whole
book like that. I mean, it was all in his head played out. And then, my luck went further when I was
working for a while at doing this stuff for France. I got to work with Moebius and there’s another
guy. What he would do is he’d practice doing these
great drawings. I’ll do one. Yeah, you want me to? Like a Moebius type of thing. Stan: Oh, are you talking about automatic
drawing? Tim: Yeah. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a great exercise
if you can do it. So I keep my mind blank. I have really no idea what’s gonna appear
on the paper but I just trust it will and I just let out kind of like a highly imaginative
spontaneous expression, we’ll call it for lack of a better term. This is how it would start just like real
simple kind of almost let’s call it almost like microscopic, the stuff you’d see under
a microscope. But there is no microscope. It’s all in your head and you create like
your mind’s eye becomes a focus. You learn how to focus it. It’s all doing very organic shapes. This I would put as much importance on as
the figure because this takes your mind and your mind’s eye to a place that normally is
unexplored. And it can’t help but to enhance your whole
view of your ability. I have no idea, it’s all just happening on
its own. It’s kind of like the Wheel of Fortune. Stan: And this is what Moebius showed you? Tim: Yes, because I would come in one time
and I’d see Jean, he’d be doing these like strange doodle like things. And I’d say, “Well, what are you doing?” And he says, “Oh, I’m just letting my mind
relax.” And it is. This is how you let your mind relax as an
artist and in a beneficial way. It’s funny how many artists like Alex Nino,
Moebius, Jack Kirby do the similar thing unawares of the others experiences in this. That was the first thing I hit like wow, there’s
this strange commonality with all these guys, and they’re all super good, they’re all highly
imaginative, I mean to the point of it being unbelievable. And it’s these exercises they do where they
allow their mind just to be free and expressive. It really relaxes your mind and you can feel
your breathing change and everything especially after you’ve been under a lot of stress with
a certain assignment. It’s good to do these things that kind of
keeps you in check so you don’t burn out or become too, I don’t know, burdened. It’s kind of takes you back to a childhood-like sense of things, frees you up. And then, drawing kind of maintains a freshness. A lot of these artists that become stale and
bitter because they don’t, I’d think, allow themselves to like enjoy it, taken on a
more enjoyable level of it all. So the figure is important and useful and
this, what I’m showing you now, is as useful really on a lot of different levels because
it keeps your mind sharp and fresh, so you’re able to deal with challenge. So you look, I mean, where’s all this coming
from? But there it is, it’s abracadabra. And Moebius would do this like in pen and
ink and watercolor. It’s like, “Oh my God, how do you do that?” But I mean, I caught on enough to be able
to do this, I mean, to the some degree the same, but I get to experience the benefit
that those exercise provide. No pressure, it’s not like, “oh it’s got to
be of a certain quality, it’s got to be of a certain standard, it has to look like…” none
of that. You allow yourself just the freedom to be
well, I guess yourself, but in an artistic kind of playful way. Because when your mind is relaxed and this
is a Moebius quote. “When your mind is relaxed, it’s the most
creative.” But I don’t have to tell you all to know how
hard it is to get that mind relaxed and yet productive. Sometimes, it seems utterly impossible. But you do this kind of stuff on a regular
basis and suddenly, it’s much more available. Like what in the heck is this, but I don’t
care. It’s interesting and it feels good, kind of
like scratching an itch. Stan: How did you meet Alex Nino? Tim: Oh, okay, I was in the army and I got
discharged in the army in the Philippines. And Alex’s house, Alex Nino that is, was walking
distance from the base. And while I was there, I didn’t have the moxy
to approach him but finally, when I got out, I said, “Oh, I’m one of your biggest fans. I’ve been stationed on this Clark field base.” And his first thing is, “Well, Clark Field’s
right over there. What do you want?” I said, “I’m a big fan” and he says, “Big
fan, what are you talking about?” And then I showed him my sketchbook and you
know, “oh wow.” He was like really impressed and he says,
“yeah. And I just now got out of the service, and
I’m here to be your student.” And it shocked him so much that he agreed. And I’ve benefited from that because I’m really
good with a Chinese brush, thanks to him. But I don’t have one to show you. But I’m kind of using the pencil as it were
a Chinese brush. See how like I’m handling all these spaces
and creating like these shapes. But the biggest benefit of this isn’t so much
what these drawing’s looking like, but the feeling of good I’m getting by doing this
on this level. It’s kind of like a real, I don’t know, like
exhaling. I have to recommend you all try it. And it’ll be hard to do at first cuz you’re
not used to letting go. But once you do, there’s a lot to gain from
that, a lot and you’ll be able to grow more completely. Stan: All right guys, go ahead and try it
now. Put down your phone and give yourself a few
minutes to relax. Draw whatever lines your brain wants you to
draw. Just let it spill out. Let me know how it goes in the comments. Oh, and smash that “like” button.

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