Outta site!

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Koosje and I are both the type of people who tend to do everything ourselves. But as Sketchbook Skool has expanded, we have worked to wean ourselves of this habit. We hired Morgan Green, our wonderful Dean of Students and then we retained the LA design firm, Third Thing, to design a new website and a proper identity system for us. It’s ironic that I have been on the other side of the table for thirty years but now I am the client of smart, talented creative people. They have been extraordinary to work with and I have learned so much from them. Our site just went live. Please check it out and, if you haven’t already, sign up for the next semester of Sketchbook Skool, starting next week!

Six weeks that changed my world

DOG portrait by SBS student, Annika Sylte

We just finished the first semester of Sketchbook Skool.  It has been phenomenal and beyond my wildest imaginings. One student captured it so well:

The last six weeks have been a roller coaster ride.

When I was debating whether to sign up for SBS or not, I wondered if the course was really for me. I’m not a beginner but I do know there’s always something new to learn. And as for “Beginnings” – well I have had a number of those in my life: when I opened a retail shop after training as a teacher; when I started over as a single person after divorce; and when I immigrated to Australia three and a half years ago to earn my living as an artist and teacher. (Yep crazy I know!)

And I figured, the blurb said “Beginning” not “Beginner” so what did I have to lose. Then when I listened to Danny talk about creativity and repression and starting the practise of daily drawing, I knew why I signed up. I wanted to draw every day. I wanted to draw my life.

The course has been fast paced. The warm up – an admonishment from Danny to use only pen, Koosje’s urging to draw outside and to try coloured pencils (still not my best) Then enjoying Prashant’s lyrical approach to journals and his dreamy watercolours had many struggling with the medium — more due to incorrect choice of paper than any lack of ability. Jane’s approach to page layout and the freedom to pick up a pencil again made many sigh with relief. By the time Roz Stendhal wowed us with her journals and her ever generous comments and links to reviews, we were all addicted to SBS. she showed us that drawing animals and birds isn’t as scary as it seems. Her compilation of answers at the end of the week is almost a book. I have only scratched the surface of information it contains.

As more and more of us escaped the klass room and hung out in the playground, we discovered that this wasn’t just a Skool with boring lessons and strict teachers but a very kool place filled with funny talented friends. We found kindred spirits to lift us when we felt down, to support our efforts to lock the monkeys in the cupboard, to praise our drawings and most of all to share a laugh.

Then, this last week and Tommy Kane, the Kross-hatch King set us an assignment that had many running for cover. Slowly the results of hours and hours of careful, painstaking drawing started to go up on the FB page. What an amazing assortment of wonderful drawings! And how appreciative we all were when Tommy congratulated us on our efforts. Like kids we jumped up and down with joy because our teacher liked our work!! Yay! Certainly there are no more “Beginners” in this klassroom.

Thank you for the best six weeks. Ever. I can’t wait for the next semester.

           — Carol Lee Beckx, Brisbane, Australia

If you’d like to experience what Carol and thousands others have, join us for the next semester of Sketchbook Skool, starting July 4th.

 

Things you’ll like.

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An Excuse to Draw: Tommy Kane Sketches the World.

I want to share a few experiences I’ve had recently which you might enjoy too.

An Excuse to Draw: I mentioned Tommy Kane’s book a while ago, but it’s a pleasure I’ve re-experienced over and again since then and it has filled me with so many emotions. photo 2

One is enormous pride in my friend who is such an extraordinary and hard-working artist. I have always loved the things that Tom makes but seeing them all in one place, takes my breath away. The enormous variations of things he draws, the intense detail and perfection of each image, the wit, the beauty — they ricochet me about. And seeing them all hardbound and being shared with the world, well, that’s the fate he always deserved and I’m immensely glad he is finally getting his due. photo 1

Another is admiration at his tenacity. Tommy is such a perfectionist, to the point of obsessiveness, filling each page edge to edge, never forsaking a drawing if it starts to go awry, always riding it out to the end, which is never bitter. Each page is a grand battle, Tom vs. Tommy, slugging it out until Nirvana is reached. The sheer volume of time, sweat and ink that went into tis book would loop around the world many times I admire his balls and wish I had that perseverance.

Third, is the pleasure in seeing the drawings I’ve watched him make and all the ones that he made on the other side of the world — all together. This book is as big and complex as the planet, so many details one every page, so many pages, so many pages within pages, all laced with jokes, and stories, and observations. Poring over it reminds me of how I used to read books when I was a kid, studying every picture, looking for faces in the windows, scrutinizing each detail and fantasizing about going to every place. It’s an adventure.

If you haven’t ordered a copy of Tommy’s book yet, start saving up. It will educate you, entertain you, and blow you away.

Oh, and if you want to see how he does it all first-hand, I hope you enrolled in “Beginnings” at Sketchbook Skool. His klass is the final one in the kourse.

Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger

Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger

Urban Watercolor Sketching: Another friend and collaborator on An Illustrated Journey has a new book out too. It’s actually not brand-new except in its English translation. Felix Scheinberger is a great illustrator, teacher and author.

photo 3-1This book (which I think is kinda misnamed as it doesn’t actually just focus on Urban Sketching but is about all things watercolor) is a treasure trove because it has so many witty, loose, energetic, gorgeous watercolors by Felix that are inspiring me over and again but also contains so much deep technical information, all presented in such a useful and accessible manner. photo 2-1Reading Felix’s book has re-whetted my appetite and rewetted my palette too. I am chomping at the bit to get out there and paint. I think it may have a similar effect on you too.  Now if I can only convince him to teach a klass for us!

Pocket Palette:

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Pans labyrinth.

IMG_1693And speaking of my palette, Maria Coryell-Martin just sent me a credit card-sized metal palette with a magnetic base into which you can swap pans of watercolor.  There are two sizes of pans and they all snap into place in this sleek little package. I just filled it up with my favorite tube paints and am ready to try it out. I am curious about how the mixing surface will work. Maria is an expeditionary artist who has painted in some amazing places and this invention seems quite genius. If you’d like one of your own, visit her shop.

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My current favorite colors

Until now, my palette situation has become less than optimal. I have my Winsor-Newton portable set which I just replenished, two teeny palettes which Roz sent me, and a big metal palette with too many paints in it.

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Teeny weeny kiddy paintbox

They are all a little dirty and muddy so sitting down and laying out my palette from scratch was a great feeling.  Now to pack up my gear and head out.

I just need to locate my favorite brush which seems to have strayed.  Heeeere, brusy-brushy!