Process.


limoDo you want to write? Or do you wanna publish?

Do you want to draw? Or do you wanna shop for art supplies?

Do you want to paint? Or do you wanna gallery?

Do you want to direct? Or do you wannan Oscar?

Do you want to be in a play? Or do you wanna be in a magazine?

Do you want to do? Or do you wanna dream?

Fired up in the dark

I am really inspired by working with Melanie Reim on her klass for Sketchbook Skool. Her loose, fast drawing style and her ways of capturing people in motion is just what I need to loosen up.

Here’s one of the pages I filled waiting with Jenny at the DMV.

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A couple of days ago we were invited to attend Sting’s new Broadway show. The music was good, the story and characters less so. During the second act, I pulled out my little Moleskine and  a couple of pens. It was so dark I couldn’t seem my book at all and  wasn’t sure what I was scrawling. During intermission, I flipped through my pages and, heartened, kept going after the curtain went up again. When I walked out of the theatre,  I had the story of the whole evening recorded in my book and my grey cells.

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This sort of quick, take-no prisoners kept me fired up and, over the next few days, I drew a bunch of people in the street and from photos too.

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Another reminder that — as in rock ‘n’ roll —sometimes speed and volume are just the ticket to loosen you up and silence your inner monkey.

Oh, and that Sketchbook Skool has the power to change your view of the world.

Even if you just work there.

Another nice article and video about my visit to China.

Danny Gregory draws artistic creativity from ISB

By Tom Fearon

Artist and author Danny Gregory has led a life as colorful as many of his paintings. Formerly creative director at a multinational advertising agency, his journey from “ad man” to “art man” began in his mid-30s when he started sketching the urban surrounds of his native New York.

Since then he has written and illustrated nearly a dozen books about his life experiences and drawing. Now solely focused on art, Mr. Gregory travels the world sharing his expertise about harnessing creative potential through art and other means.
ISB hosted Mr. Gregory as the school’s artist in residence from September 15 to 26. He interacted with students from all grades throughout his two weeks at ISB, from leading sketching workshops in the lower elementary school to giving seniors advice on what to expect at art school or university.
“I’ve been trying to encourage kids at all ages to feel good about being creative. Little kids are naturally creative and don’t really need a lot of help, but when kids reach late middle school they can start to get anxious about their creativity and feel judgmental about the things they are making,” he noted.
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One of his first engagements was participating in a student-led dialogue during a high school assembly on September 17. During the Q&A session, Mr. Gregory spoke about how he used his artistic talent in the corporate world and revealed what inspires him each time he picks up his pencil and sketchbook.
Yasmine R and Rachel W, from years 11 and 12 respectively, led the assembly dialogue and another in the MS/HS Cafeteria on the eve of Mr. Gregory’s final day at ISB. Both said ISB’s external partnerships that bring experts from all fields to the school benefit students of all ages.
“The fact ISB has so many opportunities to invite these speakers and give students a chance to go out and explore what they want to do is fantastic,” said Rachel.
“It’s a great opportunity to engage with really creative artists. We also get new ideas and advice that we can inspire our own creativity as well,” Yasmine said of ISB’s artist-in-residence program.
Mr. Gregory’s visit didn’t only inspire students’ artistic creativity. Li Keqing, a MS/HS Cafeteria server and ISB bus monitor, was chosen by the American artist to pose in one of his paintings that featured her and two of her co-workers.
The following day Ms. Li presented Mr. Gregory with her own artistic creation: a portrait she had sketched based on his photo.
“I was born with a love for drawing. My favorite subjects to draw are people’s faces, so every day at my previous work unit I would find someone seated to draw,” explained Ms. Li, who was forced to abandon her artistic dream in her youth to study machinery manufacturing.
Mr. Gregory said his time at ISB had also inspired a personal artistic evolution driven by tapping “kid energy.”
“It’s been great to be around this many people of so many ages. They inspire me and fill me with their energy as well. I found a lot of the drawing and painting I was doing was changing; I was using different kinds of colors and drawing in a looser style,” he said.

Art by another name

Unafraid.

Unafraid.

One thing I keep encountering when I talk to people about starting to draw:  fear.  People are terrified of pens, paper, and brushes.  Art is scary.

So I propose we call it something else. Drawing or journaling or sketching or doodling or sketchbooking or testing your pen. I call it ‘art with a small a‘.

Here’s how I look at it.

There are so many things we are willing to do that we know other people do much better. There are all sorts of amazing chefs on TV doing incredible things with scallops and opening four-star restaurants, but we are all still willing to cook some burgers for dinner without being terrified. We don’t say, I just can’t use  a microwave, I didn’t go to cooking school.

We may not be ready for the NBA but we’ll toss a basketball around with some buddies.  We won’t be headlining at Madison Square Garden or winning any Grammys but we’re all still willing to sing in the shower or whistle while we work.  We may not be on the Pulitzer shortlist but we can still write an email or a birthday card.  We are just doing it to have fun. Or because it’s an essential part of life.  And I think art can be both.

We don’t need to label ourselves chefs, or basketball players, or musicians, or writers.  So why does art have to be so different?

If you want a painless, unscary way to start expressing your creativity, sign up for the best semester yet of Sketchbook Skool. Thousands of people who are rusty as barn door hinges are doing it.  Join us!

A hundred feet of eighth graders

(A somewhat funky video I made in my hotel room in China)

Learning to draw is not like learning to drive.  You don’t have to master the fundamentals, take courses, pass tests, put thousands of dollars of equipment at risk.  You just have to start.

Drawing isn’t a learned skill so much as it’s a process of discovery that starts with skills you have had since you were a toddler. And that process requires a willingness to stretch and practice, things that can be scary or boring if you approach them with the wrong set of expectations.

One thing that has been reinforced with me over the past few weeks that I have spent drawing with kids is that the most crucial thing is to have fun. If you are all enjoying yourself and slopping ink and paint around, well, you want to keep it doing it. As as you do it, you encounter new situations, you have questions, you want to stretch. And that’s where a decent teacher can step in and show you how to make progress. You also start to feel more comfortable with what you are doing so you are willing to make mistakes and take new risks, and that’s how your adventures to new places begin.

We all need to accept that creativity is not about immediately achieving some sort of awesome finished piece; it’s an exploration of discovery, not a straight-line commute to Perfection.

Of course, this insight isn’t just for junior high. It’s the core idea behind Sketchbook Skool: having new experiences, having fun, exploring with friends, and having opportunities to grow. Speaking of which, the new semester is about to begin. I assume you have already signed up, but if not, get over to our site and enroll.

Some stuff I learned in China that could help you too

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  • 3-year-olds have a lot to teach me about drawing.
  • Chinese people rarely eat rice.  Or dog.
  • Digitizing your entire life is efficient and modern and smart. Until you can’t get online.
  • 10-year-olds can draw with a dip pen and a fountain pen.
  • Strangers are almost always helpful and friendly, especially if they have no idea what you are saying.
  • You can live happily without seat belts, helmets, or walk signs.
  • When you’re four, you’ll draw anything fearlessly. When you’re nine, you’d like to learn to draw real things but deep down would just as soon draw stick figure armies.  At thirteen, all that matters is what others think. At seventeen, you are obsessed with technique and your imagination is a liability.
  • Committing to eating new things doesn’t have to extend to donkey meat, bullfrog, or turtle.

If you’d like to learn even more stuff about all sorts of things, hurry and enroll for the best semester yet of Sketchbook Skool.  See you in klass!