Our October Drawing Together meeting was hosted by Theresa Rojas, artist and professor of English at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California. She is a member of the Graphic Medicine International Collective and the Founding Director of the Latinx Comic Arts Festival (LCAF). LCAF is the California Central Valley’s international celebration of Latinx comic arts creators and friends, highlighting Latinx cartoonists, writers, animators, artists, and comic arts educators.
From Theresa: (Video for these exercises will be posted soon.)
“Today’s focus is SENSE MEMORY.
Sense memory refers to the emotional recall we experience through one or more of the five senses: taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight. These memories are triggered by identical or similar sensory perception from the past and create a flashback to any moment in our life, sometimes entirely expectedly.
Since perception and interpretation is filtered through our five senses and stored in the subconscious, sense memory recall is an incredibly powerful experience. It’s so powerful that sense memory is used for such diverse things as a technique for actors to elicit emotions, and real estate agents to provoke the comforting smell of “home” and safety by baking chocolate chip cookies during an open house.
Food imprints easily into our subconscious as it brings together many of our senses all at once. You might think about your favorite foods and why they are your favorite, or something you can’t eat any longer because of an associated memory. For me, the smell of handmade flour tortillas triggers all kinds of warm memories connected to my Mexican culture, childhood, and my stepmother’s amazing cooking. I’ve been known to take the tortilla and just put it to my face as I enjoy the smell and the warmth, the feel of the flour, and of course the taste.
Now, any of the senses can elicit that sort of reaction. Think about the sound of a particular ringtone you’ve assigned to someone. The feeling of your favorite pen in your hand and as it glides or scratches across the paper. The rough feeling of a cat’s tongue or those nails clawing into your lap. As an artist, I’ve worked on canvases while streaming television or music and the memory imprints onto the visual image of the painting. One of my favorite pieces of a fall tree also evokes a memory of the show Dog the Bounty Hunter for me.
We have three exercises today. The first five minutes will guide us toward generating that focal sense memory—we won’t share that one until after the second exercise. The second exercise is also five minutes, and then we’ll share both drawings. Finally, we’ll do a longer exercise where we create a 4-panel comic using what the first two works as inspiration.
HERE WE GO!
The first exercise is to get us thinking about something that evokes a sense memory and begin drawing some representation of that thing or moment.
- This is a drawing meditation through blind contour drawing.
- You’ll draw without looking at your paper and without lifting your pen or whatever you’re drawing with. You can either close your eyes or look away from your paper. Masks are great for using as a blindfold!
- Keep this on a single page.
- Remember to BREATHE deeply.
- Take a moment to orient yourself spacially to your paper. You can use your non-dominant hand to guard the edge of the paper.
- Again, do not lift your drawing tool.
Ready? Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin.
How did that feel?
Great! Shake it out!
For the second 5-minute exercise, you’ll use your contour drawing as a reference. Get on a fresh page and REDRAW your contour piece, adding detail.
–It’s important that you redraw and not simply add to your first drawing.
–You can lift your drawing implement on this part.
Ready? Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin.
Shake it out!
Create a 4-panel comic that illustrates this sense moment/object into a complete story. We’ll take 15 minutes for this.
Ready? Set a timer for 15 minutes and begin.
Share your final comic with those close to you and talk about how it touches on the concept of sense memory. Reminder for those who would like to share on social media, use the hashtag #DrawingTogetherGM.
Thanks for having me, I hope you enjoyed today. Keep drawing the stories that you want to see in the world!”
✍️#Tactile #memory with #drawingtogetherGM
This felt so relevant right now as I have been thinking a lot about #sensoryexperience recently – plus today, packed away the summer dresses! 🏖 Thanks for the lovely session @DocTeeRoh 😊@graphicmedicine #sensory #drawings #comics pic.twitter.com/E4kSgCnuZt
— Gemlin ‘missgravydumpling’ (@sparkofgem) October 25, 2020