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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thank You!

You so are!

93 of you have weighed in to date on the question I posed last post - thank you all so much! I have replied to each of you individually, but for some reason I am getting a ton of returned emails from blogger, so if you didn't get a response from me, please know I sent one and I so appreciate your time and feedback in helping me create a fantastic book about the 100 in 100 project.

The A's have it by a landslide, so you can expect to see a book with all of the paintings and some variation of the commentary that best captures the experience and learning.

Why have I never thought to poll you fabulous people before?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Need You Guys!

"Secret Vantage"
Oil on linen - 6x8"

Hey guys, I would really love your feedback. Some of you who have been following for a while will remember the project I created in the spring of 2010 to paint 100 plein air paintings in 100 days. (The painting above was #74).

Well, I am finally getting around to putting together a Blurb book of the project and I am on the fence as to what would be most appreciated by viewers. If you could either comment below or send me an email at: with your vote for one of the following options I WOULD LOVE YOU FOR IT!

I started out working on a full blown version documenting the adventure but I can see it will take mucho hours to put together so I thought I would step back and check in with you all for your valued opinions. Here are the options:

  • A) The full project, all 100 paintings plus a fair bit of the blog commentary that went with them.
  • B) The full project - paintings only - no commentary
  • C) My favourite 50 paintings from the project with blog commentary.
  • D) Just my favourite 50 paintings from the project - no commentary.
  • E) Finally, if you think option A - could you please comment if you think it best to have the commentary along with the paintings, or the paintings solo up front with an indexed commentary at the back.
For those who weren't following the project, the blog commentary ranges from highlights of each day's experiences to the things I learned as I was working my way through. If you have the time - I really appreciate you weighing in on this!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hot Drawing Tips from the Trenches


50 minute drawing exercise from the Artsy Poses reference site.

The Challenge

25 people signed on for the July drawing challenge, and 10 of us connected for a conference call this week to check in on progress and buoy each other on.
The call was fantastic with lots of great tips and ideas. There was a mix of "success", with some of us managing to draw every day, and some missing as many as 8 days in the first two weeks. No matter, the point was that everyone is showing up and committed to keep tackling the challenge for the final two weeks of July.
We checked in on what was important to us about pursuing this goal and some great reasons surfaced:

Top Reasons to Draw Every Single Day

"I know that it is the key to becoming a masterful painter."
"I am an artist, and it is a critical component of perfecting my craft."
"I am already noticing that I am seeing differently: more clearly, more intensely, more accurately."
"If I can commit to making this an ongoing daily ritual, it will propel my skill to a higher level."
"It is engaging and fun, and once I get going, I get totally lost in the process."
"I find myself measuring without even thinking about it now, it has become second nature."

Next we checked in on what was getting in the way for those who were missing days, and what was working for those who weren't:

Fab Tips for Supporting Success in the Commitment

Know that it really is OK to draw for as little as 15 minutes, the short time frame is what helps to make it do-able. Then make that 15 minutes a priority over checking email, Facebook, TV, etc. 
Enlist your family and/or house guests to support you in your goal, simply explain what you are doing and why you need to excuse yourself for 15 minutes. They will admire you for it!

Keep your sketchpad by your computer where you will see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The visual reminder will prompt you to "eat your veggies."

Have small sketchpads everywhere, in your car, in your bag, in several rooms in the house. Then when the urge strikes you, the book is there and ready to go.
Stay focused on the outcome, the reason for the discipline. This is about becoming exceptional at your craft.

Final Thoughts

There is a line that gets crossed, a point where drawing goes from being "something I should do more of" - to being one of the most joyful aspects of being an artist. Drawing well is what creates the shift, and that can only be accessed through ongoing practice.

Next Call

We also talked about a few different approaches to drawing that mix it up and keep variety, motivation and different kinds of skill building a part of the process. Feel free to come on to the next conference call to hear more about this. There's no charge for this (other than long distance) - it's a labour of love and a great way to network with fellow artists on the journey. Send me an email if you want to join us and I'll send you the date and dial in number.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Drawing as Meditation - and a Drawing Challenge

Charcoal on paper

Recently I posted about finding ways to keep the creative flame burning brightly when the pursuit of commercial work has your art feeling more like a job than a calling.

Drawing is one of my favourite ways to lose myself in the creative process. Because my drawing is not geared toward creating 'saleable product' (as I don't set out to sell my drawings), I find being engaged in drawing, whether it is for a few moments or a few hours - to be a compelling pursuit that leads me into a very present moment, meditative state. Whether working from a photograph (above) or attending a life drawing session (below) - there is something about the experience of drawing that is entirely different than painting.

Slowing Things Down

Drawing moves more slowly, there is no paint handing or colour to think about, and erasing and correcting is a simple process. I also find the fact that a lot of the page gets left uncovered really centers my attention on the contours of the form I am working with, and how the angles and shapes relate to each other. It becomes a game of one shape or angle leading to the next, with attention on checking the accuracy of each mark as it is made, and at the same time noticing how each line put down relates to the whole.

Graphite on paper
17 x 14"

The Challenge

Of course the added bonus is that developing sound drawing skills will propel your painting forward. On that note, I challenged a group of students I taught this weekend to commit to drawing a minimum of 15 minutes a day for the month of July. I offered to join them in the challenge, and to facilitate a conference call mid-July, and one more at the end of the month - to share our experience around the challenge, support each other in staying with it, and celebrate what we learned by doing it.

If you would like to join us in the challenge, please email me and I will send you the conference call # and the date and time of the first call. You can jump on the program today and still get 11 days in before our mid-month call!

I encourage you to do some of the sessions from life (your cat, your kid, your foot) as this poses its own particular set of challenges. In addition, here are a couple of online resources for 2 dimensional reference that have a wide selection of images and provide an opportunity to do timed drawings (for example a rotating selection of 30 second poses):

Artsy Poses has great photos of models with fabulous lighting.
Pose Maniacs was suggested by one of my students and has anatomical drawings to work from.

Would love to have you join us! Your art will thank you for it. :-)

Upcoming Workshop

On another note: I am teaching a 3 day plein air workshop in Kimberley, BC August 8-10th, and there are two spaces still available. For details please click here.