Harts Pass no. 495

Still WAY too many people not willing to wear a mask. Some people are hitting home runs wearing masks... and some people are hiding behind inane right wing propaganda like their concealed carry permits will be invalidated if they wear a mask (not true!) It's not hard. Keep one in your pocket. Keep one in your car. Keep a buff or scarf around your neck and use it as a mask. My wife and I are coaching high school and junior high runners wearing masks. They do it. So can you. Save some lives. This is SUCH a huge little thing.


Harts Pass no. 494

Hiked a trail this week with a bridge out 4 miles in. You could cross the creek with some effort, but it was not an easy thing. A small metaphor for what we are supposed to be doing with our political divide. Build a bridge. Bring people together. Take two far off points and reduce the distance between. Statesmanship is in short supply. We need real leadership not a puffed up schoolyard bully and we need to build bridges.


Harts Pass no. 493

Lots of hiking for me this spring/early summer. LOTS of wildflowers too. Good to find some positive pops of color in all of the Covid gloom. Feeling very lucky to live where social distancing is easy... but also too far away from the easy ability to participate in important protest over social justice inequities that have persisted for FAR too long.


Harts Pass no. 492

I looked REALLY hard to find a good quote about FREEDOM and RESPONSIBILITY. And that's what it comes down to, people. With all of our American freedom comes a true responsibility to do what it right for the common good. Get off of your selfish high horse about not wanting to be told what to do. Think about YOUR high school graduation. Think about YOUR first year of college or your first taste of living on your own and going out and into the world. Now think about how your selfish need to indulge your every whim is keeping SO many kids or others from having that same experience. And I'm being young adult/millenial-centric here because you guys need to step up. You might be at a lower risk of getting really sick, but you also might still be contributing to a greater community spread. If people really want to get back to work. If people really want to get their kids back to school. If people really want the FREEDOM to go and shop and eat out and travel with ease again and all of that... then for the foreseeable future (until we get a vaccine) you need to settle down and do EVERYTHING with a nod towards the greater good. You need to put US and WE first. You need to recognize that everyone will be better off if you think about three other people first before you think about yourself. As it turns out, YOU will actually benefit as well. PS John Dewey has a lot of good writing worth reading as well. Nothing super pithy and quotable, but still. Check him out and realize how little we have progressed regarding ideas of freedom and responsibility and race in the last 100 years.


Harts Pass no. 491

Totally pandemic related, and totally school year/summer break related. There is a fine line for sure between what we were doing and what it felt like when we went on break. Like anything else these days a total recalibration of the norms is necessary. Summer IS hotter BTW!


Harts Pass no. 490

I feel like this is one of those where the concept is just a little off. Spring time rains in the north cascades ARE a little rare -- and rarer still as summer looms. It makes total sense to me that Thor would soak it up while the soaking is good, but just like Kit is stating, it seems a little strange. I mean I "guess" there is some humor in this impossibility (you can't REALLY soak up the rain to store it for later) but at the same time the leap of faith for understanding this is probably a little far. You win some you lose some. Next week will be better!


Harts Pass no. 489

Kids, parent, staff, teachers and schools this year made the best of it. "Happy" may be taken with a grain of salt, but it was still and important milestone and things will (eventually) get better. Onward and upward!


Harts Pass no. 489

Black Lives Matter. There is SO much going wrong. What is happening in our country right now needs leadership and compassion.


Harts Pass no. 487

Back from late May and a sneaking suspicion that many of my students might have started losing interest in school... funny that since SO many parents had been wanting more in the way of self-directed educational opportunity.


Harts Pass no. 486

It this time of social distancing, I have been closer to my family than just about anything else. Finally coming around to online social obligations and updates. Apologies for the absence. Hugs to all!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 13

Getting a little ahead of myself, but I've been sitting on Episode 12 for several days now due to problems with uploading... Anyway, no. 13 is out "sequence" but here you go! Just a little drawing challenge where you can turn absolute and totally random watercolor splotches into something almost recognizable :) Give it try, and as I heard on the radio yesterday in a quote by the woman who invented the N95 mask, "If you don't stretch you can't find the edges." 
Push those creative boundaries! 



Harts Pass no. 485

One of those silent strips where I hopefully got the expressions and gestures telling most of the story :) Spring rain is good in the arid west. It seems even a little better this year with the relative suspended animation that is "shelter in place" pandemic-required relative isolation and persistent sameness. Worms in the grass now too for added company!


B.E.A.R Episode no. 11

In this video I demonstrate an observational drawing challenge using sad faces. Sometimes in class we would draw quickly, switch poses, draw again, switch again etc.. The pose or the amount of time given, could get gradually longer, but fundamentally, this is meant to capture MAJOR ideas and then maybe start building on form or shape with a little more time. Dramatic gestures, lines of action, general shapes and relative shapes (the size and scale of how things fit together in a subject) -- these are the building blocks that can help you with almost any kind of drawing :) Follow the two links below and give it a try after watching my slightly time-lapsed demonstration. Enjoy! 

19 MIN OF SPRING: https://tinyurl.com/yc9cmb5p


Harts Pass no. 484

In 1972 my little western town of Winthrop, WA decided to re-brand as a wooden boardwalk, "western" in the old fashioned send of the word, kinda tourist hub. It's generally worked and has been good for business. Like any place with a "code" there are certainly ups and downs - not to mention the fact that "western" expansion into once remote territories had many problems of its own. Putting aside all of that and in favor of a positive spin that might help squelch the politicization of mask wearing, when local business DO get the chance to open up a little more and get back to "norm" we have a ready-made opportunity to have a "costume" (bandana mask) that fits the town sensibility AND keeps the workers and the tourists necessary for livelihood safe and sound. Be smart people. Wear a mask!


Polar Bear Post Card Redux no. 4

The final polar bear post card painting from my B.E.A.R chat video late last week. If you want to see this painting in action take a scroll down the page and play away!

Harts Pass no. 483

Birthday week for Thor! And Kit too, for that matter, one day after dad :) That's a LOT o' miles riding the good 'ole planet earth around the sun. Take care out there. GRRR!!!

Harts Pass no. 482

An Earth Day comic from the slopes of Harts Pass! The four steps listed here are the same used by my wife's Methow Conservancy "School Yard Science" program when they engage with local elementary school students (or did anyway.) School in session or not, you can still engage in similar ways. Have a good week!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 10

A little watercolor demo and the progress painting of a polar bear postcard :) Trying to establish an “art exchange” with other regional schools where my Drawing & Painting class can hopefully make a few smallish “postcard” paintings of their own, mail them off to some other students in similarly isolated “art class” situations, and hopefully then receive some surprise student artwork of their own. We’ll see if we can make it happen!

Weekend Polar Bear Paintings

This past weekend I painted polar bear. It made me happy. Enough said. Enjoy!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 9

In this video: A DRAWING CHALLENGE! Watch something. Study it. Spend 10-20 minutes just observing. Afterwards, go back to your paper or sketchbook and draw or paint as much as you can remember. Look for shapes. Look for colors. Look for feelings or personality or character. Spend some time on this end as well - 10-20 minutes or more - and see what you can do :) 

Perfection not expected. Practice seeing. Share your results! 


Harts Pass no. 481

Lucky for us we have a new puppy and a nearly seventeen year old who have lots of positive "keep busy" energy and occasionally slow down enough for an excellent snuggle. Take care out there!

Harts Pass no. 480

It's totally true, logging is like social distancing :) And in this case for a similar purpose. The distance between tree makes it harder for a catastrophic wildfire to totally destroy the forest. True enough! Now if only we could rake the ground in between people who are properly socially distanced... THEN we would really kick this Covid-19 thing in the pants!


Harts Pass no. 479

Kit Courageous, defender of childhood and bravest wolverine around! Kit last made an appearance in these pages during the Carlton Complex wildfire in 2014. She is back again to help us through. Wash your hands. Stay in your den. Flatten the curve! Take care out there. GRRR!


Harts Pass no. 478

OK, sometimes a hug is all it takes. I mean, a socially distanced hug if necessary at this point -- but a REAL hug if you can get it!

B.E.A.R. Episode no. 8

A quick intro from Mr. Brooks plus two different DAILY DRAWINGS from the ART IS... prompts #10 "terrified" and #11 "united". In these two drawings, markers, colored pencils, pen, and crayon are used to create some layers of detail. This is "live" hand on paper. Nothing digital about it. Enjoy!

B.E.A.R. Episode no. 7

Following up on our value scale with pencil (Episode 6) this video demonstrates creating a range of light-to-dark with a single color. I chose a yellow ocher to start, but you could do similar things with any color you choose. This demo directly references a recent exercise from my high school drawing & painting class. Students used acrylic paint, but you could simulate this with anything from pastel to colored pencil to opaque watercolors depending on what you have available. My digital version was painted on the iPad Pro with the Procreate App. 

The demo is SUPER quick, so feel free to pause or rewind - go back-and-fourth in certain areas to see the values slowly blend together and build up into the final image. Keep making art!

B.E.A.R. Episode no. 6

In this episode I do a quick demo of ART IS... prompt no. 4: VALUE STUDIES. This is some very basic practice for shading light to dark. For my students, think of it as review :) Sometimes its also just nice to watch something like this and then to try it again your self with fresh thoughts in mind. And for a BONUS EXTRA!!! Check out the slo-mo dragon voice at the end. NICE. Take care out there!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 5

A narrated "live drawing" demo of the first two "Daily Drawing" prompts from ART IS... This one is a little longer, but 'hey', that give us more time to talk about art. The drawing prompts for this episode were "home" and "rocket man". I can't wait to see what you post for these as well. Enjoy!

B.E.A.R. Episode no. 4

In this edition Mr. Brooks shares a few of his first drawings from the ART IS... enrichment packet. He also takes the chance to recreate his Pencil Portrait (prompt no. 2) in digital form. Watch for a few tips on shading and an approach to starting a simple pencil drawing. You can draw along or take a look and then try yours later. The description in BEAR no. 3 has a link to the ART IS... packet for anyone interested. The Liberty Bell HS/JRH Instagram page is @lbhs_art. Add the #artislbhs hashtag to posts of your own they will all collect in a "gallery" feed for us to enjoy. Keep making art!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 3

A quick 5 minute chat about the paper arts packet that was sent out today, and some encouragement to play along! I will hope record my own first foray into these daily drawing prompts later today. It will (in all honesty) probably get posted tomorrow, because...

... we recently adopted a puppy! Expect to see LOTS of Quince drawings in the weeks ahead :)

Back in the EXCELLENT Art Room: Episode no. 2

In the episode I talk a little bit again about the value of making art, music as an inspiration, the fact that we ALL need to be patient with both ourselves and with others, and I draw some jazzy polar bears! Thanks for taking a look :)

Back in the Art Room: Episode no. 1

As some of you know, last year I started teaching art at my local HS/JRH. In just my second year I am still trying to strike that balance between my own creative work and teaching... but I DO whenever possible try to bring some of those freelancer ideas to my classroom. It's all kind of a scramble!

Given the recent suspension of school for six weeks staring last Tuesday, March 17th, we are entering brand new territory into the land of "arts enrichment" or some sort of extended alternative learning situation.

I've been working on an arts packet, ART IS... that I will share with my students starting Monday 3/23, and I am plan to post a few different videos each week (2-3 ideally) that will provide a supplement to the packet and  let me potentially continue the tenor of creative conversation that I am hopefully starting to have with these kids.

It's pretty much all an experiment, and to some degree not unlike the myriad Inktober, Illustration Friday and other creative online outlets that have existed for quite some time. That being said, I do hope that my students will give it all a try. 10 minutes a day.

Let's keep making art!

PS If you'd like a copy of the ART IS... packet yourself, feel free to download one here.

PPS GRRR! (as per usual)


Harts Pass no. 477

Wolverines may indeed have a few advantages when it come to social distancing -- they DO smell pretty bad, they DO live in wide open spaces, and they ARE a little mean and snarly -- thusly discouraging a lot of public interaction. For the rest of us however, being social is pretty normal. Now that we should  keep a little more space and distance between us its actually OK to snarl like a wolverine once in a while. If you say please and thank you, you can keep a comfortable distance, be firm but friendly, and do the greater public interest a lot of good. A lot of time just spent wandering the woods like a wolverine shouldn't hurt anything either. Be safe out there!


Harts Pass no. 476

Phew, what a difference a week makes... I'm a little late in posting last week's "daylight savings" strip, but in the face of our national Covid 19 crisis this seems like a lifetime ago. Please heed the thoughtful advice of the CDC, our forward thinking governors and others who are taking aggressive measures to slow the spread of this disease. Be safe out there!


Harts Pass no. 474

Great movie that "Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Mr. Rogers would definitely NOT approve of my sarcasm in this strip, but sometimes the wolverine needs to rip and shred a little...


Harts Pass no. 473

'Tis the sound bite season! TONS of catchy word play. LOTS of impossible promises. Try to cut through the noise and think about what a politician can actually accomplish given all of the layers of government (thankfully) and the odds that are stacked against him/her. And then ask yourself very pointedly what it it that a President is really supposed to represent. What IS the American dream? Why does this country exist? On what principles was it founded? Lets not pick a President based on fear and irrational ideology summed up in a sound bite (or an outright lie). Let's pick a President that actually has our Country's best interests at heart and not simply his/her own.


Elephant Haiku - 1.31.20

Catching up on the Elephant Haiku. I'll have a few more posted this weekend.

Harts Pass No. 472

Not to be overlooked, wolf OR-54 was recently found dead in northern California. As wolves will do, this ambitious female set out for new territory and famously traveled nearly 9,000mi. in search of a mate. Idaho to California and back again. Her father had done something vey similar in becoming very first wolf sighting in California for nearly 50 years. The beat goes on... GRRR!

Harts Pass No. 471

And then there are days like this. Or weeks. Or months. Or years it seems... GRRR!

Harts Pass No. 470

We all feel like this at one point or another... as Glenn Pudelka* used to say, "onward and upward!"

*Editor on my very first children's book. Not a reference that anyone will understand and thusly this :) Enjoy!


Elephant Haiku - 1.25.20

Not something that I dabble with lately, but in college and a little beyond even handstands and handstand walking were a good way to pass the time. And so it goes with elephants. Onward and upward, February awaits!


Elephant Haiku 1.20.20

I got a little behind on my #3perweek attempt, but I do like doing these when I get the chance. This one, completed late on MLK Day, is a good place to begin the week. We need some leadership these days - someone who is looking out for the greater prospects of humanity at large. And so it goes...

Harts Pass No. 468

A little at a loss for this one. I, for one, am happy about the depths of winter. It gets a bad rap. That being said I guess the wolverines and I are expressing just a little winter optimism as we head into the midst of the snowy season. Cheers!


Elephant Haiku 1.12.20

A little more light hearted, this one :) 3-4 more inches of snow here on the eastern slope of the Cascades. No elephants skiing - at least none that I've seen - but lots of other happy folk. Three cheers for a steady adding to the winter snow pack -- both for skiing and the summer season ahead.

Elephant Haiku 1.7.20

With similar inspirations to this week's Harts Pass... alas, the world is often on fire these days and none of the people in power seem to care to do anything about it. 

Harts Pass No. 467

Our hearts go out to the wildlife in Australia... Safe refuge to one and all wherever it can be found.


Elephant Haiku 1.4.20

Three drawings in. Still having fun. It will get harder in another few days.

Elephant Haiku 1.3.20

I like this one. Promises to stay away from constantly sad and somber poses will be forthcoming.

Elephant Haiku: A drawing challenge for the New Year!

SO many artists start in on drawing challenges for the New Year -- admirable efforts for pushing the envelope of their work through non-contracted assignments and many times some excellent vehicles for creative growth and/or just simply trying fun, short, satisfying stuff :) 

Anyway, the internets are BURSTING with it right now. With my teaching and and coaching and clawing my way back to making things of my own (not to mention living and sleeping) there is pretty much ZERO chance that I will do something like this on a daily basis -- there are just too many other things to do and not enough hours in the day. That being said, goals are good and some kind of drawing challenge sounded like a good idea (plus I got wistful and a wee bit jealous just looking at too many January 1st "daily drawing" beginnings.)

On January 2nd I drew an elephant. Kind of a "wait for me" moment for the daily drawing crowd. The next day (posts to follow) I drew another elephant... and decided that the elephant - at least for now - is a good totem creature for the effort (since an elephant never forgets.) Added to that moment I decided to write a bit with each illustration. I will break rules for sure and push the envelope for syllable counts etc. but the goal for now is a collection of elephant haiku. Spur of the moment - ideas drafted on the spot - probably not spending much more than an hour on each piece (TBD). I will definitely NOT do seven per week. If I get #3perweek it will be AMAZING. 

Stay tuned and thanks for taking a look. I'll post here and to Instagram @erikbrooksbooks 


PS I would LOVE to do these all in watercolor. In the spirit of trying new things I'll be using the procreate app and an iPad Pro. I'm good with that on the inking side, but more of a watercolor / painterly feel will be good to practice.