Chatting. In my house. About stuff.

Recently Cynthia Morris came to visit me and we sat down for an interview because she wanted to know more about A Kiss Before You Go and the whole process of recording your life in a book.  Cynthia has started drawing fairly recently but she is a life coach and deals with creative people all the time. She describes her job as helping “people enjoy their talents and create on their own terms”.  I like that job description.  She gave me some solid advice on the direction my life is taking and I offered my own thoughts on how she could create an illustrated memoir.

Here’s a video we shot of the chat in my living room.

Cynthia posted her notes from a conversation we had once the camera was off about my advice on “8 Ways to Live an Illustrated Life“.  I hope it’s useful.

My debut on slate.com

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I was fortunate to get a lovely review on slate.com this week.

I was also invited to illustrate all of the articles on their book review section this month. I haven’t done drawings for hire like this in a while but it was great fun. You can see all nine of them here.

I am traveling to Bangkok right now and writing this post in the Hong Kong flight club so it may take me a while to post all of the actual drawings here. Meanwhile, check me out on slate.

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EDM #(17 &)18: Draw the view from a window of your house, apartment, office, etc.

My house is devoid of musical instruments right now so I will wait to draw EDM#17 until I come across one somewhere — stay posted. Instead I skipped ahead to Challenge #18.


Liz Steel is an architect who lives in Sydney but loves to draw, paint and travel. I have long admired her art which she tells me she just started a few years ago, influenced by Everyday Matters and The Creative License. Now she is a voracious and talented drawer of things, mainly buildings and teacups. Accompanied by her bear, Borromini, she has drawn all over the world and she is just on her way back Down Under after attending the Urban Sketchers symposium in the Dominican Republic.

Liz dropped by my house yesterday and after sharing journals and stories, we sat out on southern terrace and drew the setting sun over Greenwich Village.

Liz draws with a Lamy fountain pen and a palette full of Daniel Smith and Winsor  watercolors pans. She works quickly and lightly, stopping to wipe her brush on a sweatband emblazoned with a kangaroo.

She sees clearly and draws the minimum necessary to convey the scene, unencumbered by a need to crosshatch and all sorts of tone into her drawing. The results are as upbeat and fresh as she is.

I was feeling in a regressed sort of mood, I guess, in part because I havent drawn this view in many years, and I pulled out my sack of ten-year old brush markers (later augmented with some Doc Martin’s). The results look like a drawing I might have done in the late 20th century when I first started to draw.

I really enjoyed my visit with Liz — her experience at the Symposium and her worldwide visits with many of the artists I admire but know only through the web inspired me to want to get out and meet more drawing people in person. It’s so great to sit around and talk about pens and folding chairs and share lessons and observations.

I’m also delighted that Liz and her work are going to be in my book, An Illustrated Journey, which I understand will be available in February or thereabouts.

Drawing day

roundtablea-1I have been kerchunking out drawings today, primarily for the Morning News. As part of the series’ illustrations I’ve been doing for the newly redesigned site, Rosecrans, my editor, asked me to create a drawing for TMN’s occasional round table discussions. At first, feeling uninspired, I pulled out a photo of a conference room business discussion and turned it into this.

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The next day, Rosecrans said he liked everything I’d been doing except the roundtable illustration one which looked like I’d done it from a photo of a conference room business discussion. So I took another crack at it, this time a little more bohemian and came up with this.

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My next job was to create illustrations for the next installment of Peanut is coming up on Tuesday. I decided to just focus on still life objects that represent parts of the story rather than contrive some actual illustrations of people and events, my least favorite illustration to do. These are three separate ones.
At the new Blick art store down my street, I picked up a new set of Pelikan opaque watercolors. They are a little chalky but work pretty well in moderate conjunction with my transparent watercolors. A worthwhile addition for just 20 bucks for 24 colors. I also grabbed a handful of PITT artists pens from Faber Castell. I love their brush pens and now will try out the S and F pens in black and umber.
I also splurged and bought myself a new set of watercolors called “Yarka St Petersburg”. They were pretty expensive: $69 for a set of 24 pans but I really want to upgrade my colors and I hate little tubes. I’ve tried making my own set by drying little cakes in a metal box but it was a disaster.
Anyway, when I got the St. Pete’s home, I realized they were not worth the money. The pans sit in a flimsy plastic box that would crack in no time in the field. And the pans themselves sit in the thinnest plastic egg carton sort of arrangement of cups. There’s no way they will survive a year or so of daily use. Why would anyone make such a flimsy piece of shit I wonder? The Pelikans are beautifully made and designed (though the paints themselves are probably just student grade) and these professional paints were designed by monkeys who’d never seen a real human use them,. They’re going back to the store this afternoon.