We make writing fun! Join us this summer for a creative, enriching writing experience that allows children to explore their imaginations while building confidence and literacy skills.
We spoke with Lisa Hartsgrove, who is teaching our Ink It Up! summer workshop (July 15 – 19, 1 to 4 p.m.; ages 11-14) to find out more about what she loves about writing and drawing together.
PWN: What do you love about filling up journal pages with ink?
LISA: There’s something deeply satisfying about filling a page and triple-so about filling a notebook. It feels gratifying, like a job-well-done. Have you ever gone grocery shopping and crossed off each item as you found it? It’s kind of like that, but bigger and more meaningful. You’re not just putting things in a cart to feed your body, but you’re putting words and art on a page to feed your brain, your imagination, your creativity. It’s grocery shopping but for soul food.
PWN: What’s your go-to doodle?
LISA: Although I love cats, the images I draw most often are not feline-related. I tend to doodle more floral designs—daisies, roses, lilies. I like drawing them because there’s so much freedom in the way they appear. For instance, daisies have a very different shape than roses. And tulips are often bright pinks and purples while hydrangeas are often pastel. There are so many variations of flowers, so it’s easy to put your own spin on what a flower could look like. I also love images that can be used to fill in gaps (I rarely leave room for white space) such as spiderwebs, eyes, bubbles. And lots of barren trees.
PWN: What moment in the classroom gets you excited as an instructor?
LISA: The AH-HA moment! When I notice a shift in a student. When I see the spark go off. For instance, I once had a student who on Day 1 of camp claimed she “was not a writer or an artist.” She took the camp at the (strong) suggestion of her parents and didn’t feel as though she belonged. But by Day 3, she was writing and sharing her work with the group. Somewhere in that three-day span, she developed a confidence in something she didn’t know she had. And I believe that had a lot to do with the group—she saw other students writing and drawing and sharing their work without judgment. She felt safe and welcome, which led to her ability to create and experiment without fear. Her first share (about her struggle to find her identity) was the spark I was looking for—that AH-HA moment. When she could see that we were all learning and experimenting together, she was able to push past her own expectations. I love when I see that bell go off in my student’s head that tells them, “I AM a writer.”
PWN: Why do you write and draw together?
LISA: It has always been my understanding that art feeds art. Especially in writing. As writers, we repeat “show don’t tell”—and what is a drawing but a visual representation of a story? I’ve been art journaling most of my life—long before I knew it was called “art journaling.” I still have pages and pages from my high school years where I would both draw and write together. (Sometimes I even bring in old notebooks to show my students.) The first stories I ever wrote were told through drawings, and still, later in life, drawings have helped me express what words can’t always nail down. So I encourage my students to explore their creativity in much the same way. We spend time writing, yes, but we also spend time drawing, painting, cutting up magazines, and listening to and learning from one another. It’s incredible to see my students light up when they realize they’re allowed to draw instead of write, or to spend time coloring in the corners of their pages, or to use different mediums like chalk or pastel. Imagine how much you can express when you break down the barriers that box in your art.