Why I started to suck & how I plan to stop.

Let me be honest. Over the past few months, I’ve abandoned this blog — a vital part of my creative life for the last dozen years. I have been just using it as a soapbox for hawking books, talks, interviews and klasses. I’ve ignored why I’ve kept it for so many years: to explore my ideas about creativity and my experiences as an artist and a human being.

Where did I go wrong?

To find the answer, I’ve been doing a lot of self-analysis and reflection. And I’ve realized that I started to lose my perspective last September, around the time that Jenny and I drove across country, leaving sunny Cali behind for the familiar grey canyons of a New York winter.

This wasn’t how it was meant to be. When I left my advertising job almost two years ago, it was to set myself free. I wanted to slow down, to paint, to draw, to write, to ruminate, and to see if the path I had been following since college was in fact the best one for me.

Moving to LA with Jenny scared me at first but I understood myself well enough to know that, if we stayed in New York, walking the same streets I have for decades, my resolve to leave advertising and pursue my own path would be sorely tested. Before long, someone would tempt me into putting on a jacket and tie and sitting in a conference room once again. I had to get outta town.

Before long, someone would tempt me into putting on a jacket and tie and sitting in a conference room once again.

Going West transformed me. I fed hummingbirds, bought a truck, grew kale in the backyard, built a studio in my garage, made Art Before Breakfast, met Koosje on my travels and we launched Sketchbook Skool.

The first six months of SBS were amazing. It was mind-blowing that so many people signed up straight out of the gates and we were having an absolute blast working with talented friends and seeing our dream come to life.

Our ambition was grand: ‘art for all’ was our mantra from the get-go. We wanted to inspire people everywhere to start making stuff. We wanted to capture the sketchbooks and processes and ideas and experience of brilliant artists and share them with anyone looking for a fresh start.

At first, we thought, let’s just make it free — but we discovered that would mean a severely compromised version of our vision. So we settled on charging the minimum that we could to still deliver on our promise to pack each klass with quality. But charging tuition led us into a whole new world.

Welcome to Capitalism®. If you take money, you must have a bank account. To open a business bank account, you need to be a corporation. To be a corporation, you need a lawyer and accountants. To operate globally in a non-traditional business, you need more lawyers and accountants. Soon, instead of spending all our time making videos with our friends, we were doing a lot of administrative work that was not in our DNA.

We live in a time that celebrates entrepreneurialism, where twenty-year-olds assume they’ll be billionaires, where people make a living selling artisanal okra instead of taking corporate jobs. There are endless online tools and services that entice anyone anywhere to start a corporation, set up a website, and be a star.

We live in a time that celebrates entrepreneurialism, where twenty-year-olds assume they’ll be billionaires, where people make a living selling artisanal okra instead of taking corporate jobs.

I knew the appeal. Although I started a Marx-Engels study circle in high school, I spent much of my career writing poetry about business, corporate manifestos, sixty-second Super Bowl commercials about ideals and values and romantic visions for the future of mankind for my clients.

Inevitably, Sketchbook Skool was morphing from a pure passion project into a demanding business. We had to bring on a raft of advisors to cope with the ever-shifting matrix of requirements for operating a global online business. It became clear that if we didn’t want to raise prices, we had to increase sales — so we added a bunch of marketing consultants. In order to grow, we had to address the emerging limitations of our existing platform which just couldn’t handle so many students so next we brought in a team of developers.   I was working for a company again. How the hell did that happen?

I was working for a company again.

How the hell did that happen?

After much development and expense, we launched our new platform. It caused a lot of confusion among our students. Thousands of people with different computers, browsers, operating systems and varying bandwidth speeds mean that, despite all our Beta testing, we had to deal with a steady stream of concerns. Anyone who understood what we were doing told us that this was totally normal, that every new platform or system has bugs that take time to work out but it was still painful. One by one, we knocked them each down and the platform works reliably now, in a way that our old one never could. But people were unhappy and that was awful.

Meanwhile, Art Before Breakfast, came out to stellar reviews and my publisher and I were ecstatic. Only problem: there was a strike at the docks and new copies of the book were stuck in the harbor on container ships coming in from our printers in China. Despite all the NPR interviews whipping up enthusiasm for the book, no one had copies for a month or more. More people were unhappy.

Ironically (and this strikes me as the dictionary definition of irony), I was also in the middle of writing a book called Shut Your Monkey: How to control your inner critic and get more done. It was the hardest book I’ve ever written because the subject of the book, my own inner critic, was having a field day with all of the stresses I’d taken on, delighting in telling me I was the cause of them all.

Now, I don’t think I was wrong to have so many balls in the air. My error was in losing sight of what I wanted. I was defaulting to a lot of ancient habits, using a few overdeveloped muscles instead of developing the ones I really cared about. It was easy to default to having wall-to-wall logistical meetings and never saying no.

Soon, I got to the point that I just didn’t want to do anything. It was really scary to think that I had no one to blame but myself but here I was, in a rut, not having fun, feeling beleaguered. I barely had the energy to do any drawing of my own, let alone write my blog or teach. I’d been in this corner before but I could always blame my job, my boss, the Man. Now I was the Man.

… I could always blame my job, my boss, the Man. Now I was the Man.

At first, I didn’t know what to do. I was apprehensive about telling anyone how I felt because there had been so much hoopla around the success of Sketchbook Skool and Art Before Breakfast. Who would understand if I wasn’t happy about it? I felt like an ungrateful ass.

Eventually I discussed it with Jenny. We decided that something had to change. Should I just quit? Should we fold the Skool? It meant so much to so many people, especially me, but there had to be a better way.

Next, with a lump in my throat, I called Koosje. It turned out she was feeling much the same way. We talked about how we had lost our original reason for creating the Skool and we needed to have more creative fun, to reset expectations, and dial back the scope of our plans for the Skool.

First up, in the next kourse, we would be the teachers. That would give us a chance to make stuff again, to express ourselves, to get out from the back office. It would be a total departure from anything we’d done before —  playful, light, experimental and fresh. Our inspiration comes from when we most loved to draw and explore as kids, full of animation and crayons and fart sounds. It’ll take work but it’s the sort of work that creates energy rather than depletes it. Maybe some people won’t like it. Oh well, Koosje and I do. We’ll see what folks think when it starts in about a month.

I also decided that I would have to deeply examine and reconsider everything else I had on my plate. Blogging helps me further that goal. It is the seed-bed out of which grow all my ideas, projects and connections. I pledged to get back to writing new (non-self-promoting essays) several times a week, starting today.

Next, Shut Your Monkey is an important book to me and it needs to be treated with care. I am working with an incredibly talented book designer to make it look beautiful and wild and new. I think it has the potential to help a lot of people and I really want it to be great.

I also need to fill my well. That means more time reading, drawing, visiting museums and galleries, hanging out with artists and traveling. I have been invited to be an artist in residency in several international schools this fall and I can’t wait. Working with kids is the greatest inspiration for me and I crave being immersed in their creative energy. Plus, I will get to visit some amazing new places on this beautiful world we live in.

I’ve also been thinking about why I stopped blogging. Busyness isn’t the whole reason. I have written even at the busiest times over the years. I think the issue has been honesty, honestly.

I’ve always tried to be painfully straightforward when I write here. Similarly in my books and when I teach classes. I try to be myself, warts, carbuncles and all. As a writer, an artist and person, I can be flawed and vulnerable. This works less well as an entrepreneur. As person taking credit card payments, I need to project an unimpeachable face.

I try to be myself, warts, carbuncles and all.

It’s not a face I’m unfamiliar with. I wore it for years, in board meetings, client presentations, job interviews and staff briefings. The authority. The decider. 100% sure. But it’s just not me. And it’s just not my voice, especially not the one I use here, among friends. But increasingly, as the face of Sketchbook Skool, when I came to write here on my blog, I felt I had to be the shill, the Mad Man of Mad Ave, always upbeat, bringing the most awesome! things.

And that’s probably not why you read this blog. I know it’s not why I wrote it all these years. That Slick Willy facade (a close pal of the Monkey’s) is strongly advising me not to post this little diatribe on my blog today, that it’s Too Much Information, that it’s whiney. But I owe it to you and to me to explain what has been going on and why I think it has to change.

Thanks for hanging in here with me, despite my ups and downs. I appreciate it.

Honestly, I do.

189 thoughts on “Why I started to suck & how I plan to stop.”

  1. Wow, thank goodness for that! I thought you were lost! This is a great blog (and why I started reading your stuff in the first place), when you started to use them just to promote and be an ‘entrepreneur’ I stopped reading and started deleting (but I didn’t unsubscribe)-must have been waiting for today! I love the honesty and so glad that you wrote this (I feel a lot like what you are describing in my own business!). Thank you.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Yay honesty. Woo-hoo! Well done, this.

    I remember reading, years ago, that fear of failure was the older sister to fear of success. “Why would one fear success?” I thought, “isn’t that what we all want?”

    Success is ego, and not what soul wants. Success wants more all the time, bigger, faster, better. Soul wants little things: books and trips to museum and doing only stuff that feels good.

    This is a great post, heartfelt and honest. Bravo. Just the pen and the page. And the sharing of non-commercial thoughts.

    I can’t wait to read your monkey book, LOVE the Art Before Breakfast one and still think you’re one of the hottest artists out there. Stay true to your self: it so knows the way.

    Much love from Luxembourg,
    Cecile

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s nice reading this… I have an answer! Because be are human beings and w re do always the same thing!
    I had a Cancer two years ago and I stop everything I wouldn’t do If I only had a week to live and started to draw and did a blog, and I have such a fun… and slowly I’m getting again stressed and in to a loads of things and it’s so difficult to stop myself…
    This morning I was reading you last book and said to myself, by the 15th of June I will do it again (I will be exposing in Carrousel du Louvre, so a lot of stress and things to finish ghhhh)
    ciò ciao, nice reading you

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  4. Great to hear from you Danny. Whatever you decide to do with SBS in future, keep in mind that you and all the teachers created something magical that has legs which will keep running in our lives regardless! Its a phenomenon! Im so proud that I was one of your very early subscribers and I cherish my sketchbooks now. Thanks Danny and Koosje – the birthday girl 🙂

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  5. Oh Danny, that was beautifully written and so honest and down to earth which is why we love you. I have noticed your blog missing or not quite what it used to be over the past several months. I attributed the change in voice to the demands of business and I guess that was a correct. It is so refreshing to hear your true voice back. Your ability to inspire others and share yourself, warts and all (your words, not mine), is what brings people together under your large and wonderfully inclusive “art for all” umbrella. My own monkey has been strong of late and sapping me of all creative motivation. Hearing about your struggles gives me hope that all is not lost. I look forward to this next phase with you and Koosje. Be well.

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  6. Kudos to you Danny for being so honest on this blog. I have been in an artistic slump for some time now. It happens every time I focus on selling my work instead of making it. I tended to blame it on retirement, not being organized, being lazy you name it.

    I am loathe to mention how I have neglected my website.

    Although I signed up for sketchbook skool I rarely did the assignments and the monkey really yelled at me then. So here I am spilling all the beans to you and stuck in this rut of negativity. OY!

    Well there I’ve said it. Now I have to turn it around. 🙂
    Thanks for our post. I appreciate your honesty.

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  7. thank you Danny. You have no idea how much good, your down to earth, and honest post, has done for me. It’s very refreshing to read of your inner struggles and thoughts and also what you actually really want. It’s rather similar to the struggles I have except I couldn’t articulate my thoughts and feelings with words.
    Stay true to yourself , because being true is such a precious thing.

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  8. Wonderful blog post. I’ve been waiting for the blog to return. I completely understand what you are saying. I have severl blogs and have lost the purpose through, in my case, taking on more and more and spreading too thin. Ironically, I have been devouring your books and have renewed sketching and it’s all helping to bring me back to what’s important. So, if your writing can help me, it can certainly help you too. Glad you are blogging again.

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  9. Oh Danny. What a beautiful honest and moving piece straight from the heart. Thank you. You inspire endlessly. Even when you think you suck. I do hope your new direction brings you joy. Boy you deserve it.

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  10. Way to go, Danny. I love your honesty! Thank you for sharing the real you with us. I often think I’d like to quit my day job and see if I could make it as an artist. I’m not that brave and I can retire in a few years and maybe be a full time artist then. Part of my fear stems from what you described. Business license, tax id numbers, advertising…. blah, blah, blah. I’m so glad you are going to do more what the fun part and what really makes you happy.

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  11. I’m so glad you noticed that your train was off the track… I had noticed, but as I love you even though we’ve never met, I tried to ignore it and pretend my friend wasn’t headed off the track forever. Welcome back… you are a good man and will be ok now…. I’m looking forward to the monkey book too 🙂

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  12. Beautifully said! I am so glad that you took the “monkey” and put it aside to share where you are …I can completely relate! It’s funny how we are all so similar – I think I read somewhere that we (human’s) are 97% the same, with only a 3% differential. I think this is how we learn from each other. I can see my Self and my actions in yours …somehow, it’s comforting to know that we are not alone on this life journey. Keep doing the “inside” work and keep sharing what feels right. Best to you!

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  13. This was the first of your blog entries I’ve really read even if I have been some weeks now. I have to admit that first I was rather bored and thought that the vision I had of you, the picture in my mind of an open, true person was just an imagination and all I have got is a clever business man. I somehow hesitated to really believe this but the former articles spoke just this language – and as I know ad business and know that you know it as well and probably even better – who knows.

    This article showed me that my first picture has been right and you are the open, authentic and true person you always seemed to me. I am happy to read this. I am not happy that you were unhappy, that you struggled, that your path took a direction you never wanted and you felt not good about it. But I am really happy you realised it and have the power to change it. Buddha once said (or is said that he said it): Ech morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. I think, that we always have a chance to redirect our ways when seeing the old direction isn’t the right one for us. That’s why I quitted my job in the ad business as well and want to do more of the things that really feel good for me. That’s why I want to read, write and most of all draw more.

    I had a similar way as you describe it. From doing writing and drawing with all my heart it tended to go to point where I just thought what I could write or draw that others love it. How could I get tho most likes. And suddenly I have felt: There is no joy left in writing and drawing. It’s pure business as I never ever wanted to have again. But again: There is a chance to turn around.

    I wish you all the best with your turn around, hope to read more of these wonderful inspiring and open articles as this one above but with less concern and more joy in it.

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  14. I had found you about the time Art Before Breakfast was released in the US – the first couple of blogs I read had me all fired up and then you turned into just another blogger trying to sell a book. Yea for you to recognize that you got pulled back into the capitalist world – hey – you’re human and that’s the way of life here. Looking forward to more of the great sketching inspiration I was seeking!

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  15. Thanks so much for sharing this! It could not have come at a better time and has hit home with me. Blessings to you!

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  16. Wow! I felt a great horrid weight fall off my back as I read this. Let me tell you why. I wrote a post about a month ago in the Student Union called ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ (I think). I was on my fourth kourse and had lost my mojo. I knew it was the platform but wasn’t sure why. Now I know. This isn’t woogy woogy talk – well maybe it is – but I couldn’t feel you guys at the helm anymore. It was like the ship, the glorious ship that had been so much fun – was floating free with everyone dancing and singing but heading for icebergs. I told my dear fella that I couldn’t figure it – sure it was hard to get around and definitely hard to comment – but I understand platform changes. I just needed to wait. Who knows. I finally gave up. Watched the videos but didn’t do my usual homework. I was still drawing so who cared? I did but I was trying not to. I mean I’m old – too old to pout about things not being what they were. And I’m not a whingey whiner usually. Then I started bootkamp and it all came around. I’ve been madly posting and commenting – others are feeling it too. We’re small and we only have you and Koosje so far and even if you did the videos back awhile ago – I feel you there.
    Your explanation makes my feelings make sense. I’m an empath – you know like Deanna Troi on Star Trek. I feel sick when others have ignored illnesses. I’m a psychotherapist so that’s okay – as long as I stay grounded I don’t have too much of a problem but I wasn’t listening properly because SBS was play not work.
    Please stay on purpose, dear Danny. You know it true and every time you veer off you want to listen to your monkey. Monkey’s are to be tamed not annihilated. They have lots of uses, we just need to listen to them properly and they’ll tell it.
    Sorry for the long rant but hey! See you at skool and here on this blog.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jan, you’ve put into words exactly how I’d been feeling lately about SBS! I blamed the new platform, I blamed myself for not trying hard enough to learn it. I too stopped posting, but I kept drawing on my own. It wasn’t a total loss. I always got excited to see who was teaching the “next time” because I recognized their names from Danny’s books, and I felt part of something even though I couldn’t figure out the forums, etc. I felt like that big ship had left me on the dock! But here’s the thing: I’d watch the videos and the artists do “their thing”, and secretly wonder, “what’s my thing”? Danny and Koosje (and now France!) always encouraged me to be me. I really missed feeling ok with that. I’d even dug out Danny’s Everyday Matters because I so wanted to reconnect. Jan, thanks for posting this comment (I would have never found it in the Student Union!!). I’m glad I’m not the only one!

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  17. Jings! I’m exhausted just reading all that you have on your plate. I’m glad you’ve processed it, rejigged your priorities and have identified a clear path through the stress. While it was never my intention when I embarked on blogging, I do find that knowing I’ve got an audience and posts to write helps me maintain focus on plans and projects. I’m glad, therefore, that you are building that into your planning. And also because I enjoy reading your blog.

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  18. Being honest with yourself is the most important step. Honest with us is a great second one. (In case you’re wondering, it’s awesome!) Being led into the weeds by success is an old story, and we all need to see how others handle it, because we’re all going to be successful at something. Lately I’ve been very annoyed by what I call Responsible Adult Problems. My husband has been recovering from an accident and I’ve been feeling responsible for everything and overwhelmed as a result. I keep finding myself longing to one thing and stuck doing another. It’s a great reminder to me that while I have things I need to do to keep the house running and life good, I must make time for the things I want to do or I will go crazy. Hang in there. You’re on your way back out of the weeds and we’re all here, cheering you on.

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  19. I agree with one of the previous replies…this is the first one in a long time I have taken the time to read and I am so glad I did. I love it! I love honesty. I love vulnerability, not only because that is one of my quests in life, but because it is SO damn attractive and beautiful. Like many others, I have loved you from the first video I ever saw of yours. I still do. Thanks for being a man who loves life and is willing to not only not be perfect and have it all together…you are willing to share that…it’s encouraging and inspiring!

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  20. WOOO HOOO! YAY Danny! I am one of the SBS skolars that has watched all this happening with disappointment that it seemed to be going the way of all good things…down the busyness path and losing the wonderful heart that it started with. I am so glad you have realized why “we” are here, which is because of your original energy and direction. I am so glad you ignored your monkey and posted this, now I can slap my monkey and tell him not ALL good things must slide into the busyness business abyss! Thank you for paying attention! So glad you are YOU!

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  21. I’ve been following your blog for a few years, and I did start not clicking on the links in the email notifications recently… not really sure why, but with this post, it all makes sense. Very glad to have you back. And just to let you know, SBS got me back on track with making art, and I have yet to figure out how to access the new platform, but I will forever be thankful to you and Koosje for creating SBS. Thank you and keep having fun!

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  22. The description of what happenned on the SBS rollercoaster as it achieved its meteoric success ‘rings bells’ for many of us and is as much an education in life as SBS itself has been these past 4 semesters. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade that time, those artists and learning from them all for anything but I value this bare naked honesty from your blog as much as anything. Whatever way you go next with SBS, I’m ‘on the train’ with you and Koosje and want to continue the connection you helped so many of us make in forming this unique community of SBS students (we now call ourselves artists and it feels really good). You mayhave been through the grist mill of getting dragged back into the management of a corporate nightmare….but you have made me feel like I belong to something, to a group that is encouraging and validating and an end initself and not just a means to an end. My stuff might never been seen in a gallery or find its way into print but you encouraged me to make a record of my legacy, my neighborhood and my art through a perspective that no one else on the planet can have. What a gift…thanks a million…I even joined Urban Sketchers thanks to SBS. Looking forward to next week’s blog and to whatever comes next in the ever morphing SBS. Thanks Danny.

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  23. You know, Danny I actually saw this coming. SBS and your blogs were becoming something bigger than they were meant to be. I saw right off that sketching in all forms was becoming a business for you and a way to make a living promoting it. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It is time to back off and let someone else deal with the daily monkey’s. Steve Jobs did it and so did Bill Gates.

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  24. This is the first post that I started reading and couldn’t stop. It is so rare these days to have someone willing to be honest about what is really important and to buck the system to have it. An old proverb states, who is wise? he who is happy with his lot. I am so proud of you- Keep up the great work and I will look forward to purchasing the new book. We all need help ridding the monkey.
    Best regards to you and your family, Patti

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  25. I love this post because I’m an artist trying to understand this crazy “creative business” world and how to juggle PR, marketing, business, art & starting a new blog. Some days I lose my creative inspiration because if it. Reading this post helps me to re-focus on the art I really want to make and not worry so much about the other.

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  26. Life has that duality. I,personally, thank you for your success, or I would not have found your books, blog or sketchbook skool! You are a huge talent and just because you make a success at everything you touch, you shouldn’t apologize for sharing the down side. But I’m glad your found your way back to the blog and I look forward to hearing from “Danny the free spirit” again.

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  27. Thanks so much Danny. I have been part of every semester, but found myself wandering off, being less eager for the next new-artist Friday adventure. This blog post was the kiss before I left. I am eager to see my buddies Danny and Koosje again next semester. Welcome home.

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  28. I was getting close to discontinuing your blog. Glad you have come full circle and are getting back to what you love to do. It is the first rule you know, Do what you love. Artists are so fortunate in their calling but it is a challenge for their whole lives to stay on track and not be sucked into the vortex of business.
    Find your balance. Do what you love. The rest will follow.
    Welcome back.
    Artliveslong, Diane

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  29. Bravo! You sound like the Danny Gregory I wanted to follow a few years ago, not the one you’d become. I’m with you all the way!

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  30. I have not been following your blog for long, so I can’t see how it’s changed, but I did notice it seemed much more commercial than I expected. I appreciate and understand your honesty.
    I think it’s happened with Etsy, and they’ve gone in a different direction: whole hog on the let’s-get-rich route. Your choice is a wiser one; good luck in finding the balance that will be profitable but nourishing.

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  31. Hi Danny, I so very much relate to what you have shared. Like others have commented, I have missed your gentle wit and wisdom in your blog and in the videos in the stretching klass. I’m looking forward to you and Koesje stepping back into the creative space. There will be lots of other people who can run the business side of things – you just have to keep ‘on purpose’ and be yourself. When you love what you do, you always do a great job. Your books will walk off the shelves because they are great, not because you’ve employed a lot of new marketing people! I’ve been in the creative doldrums myself recently, watched videos but stopped posting. I think what happened for me, apart from having a massive work project to do, and a wedding to organise, was that someone asked me to do a pen and ink drawing for them of the local cathedral. It took me ages and I got into the ‘needing it to be perfect’ mindset. I haven’t drawn anything since, and that was a couple of weeks ago. Meeting other people’s needs and expectations takes us off track. My sister, who is a ceramic artist, refuses to take commissions. She tells them – here’s what I’ve done, you can buy it if you like it. Very sensible. Welcome back!

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  32. I was glad to see your blog today Danny. I appreciate you “talking” to us. It’s interesting how we can all feel like friends although we haven’t met. That’s the “environment” you’ve created. I have been in Sketchbook Skool from the beginning klasses, and it has positively changed my life. Thank you to you and Koosje. I look forward to an opportunity to continue to make art with you and Koosje. Best wishes as you make these important decisions.

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  33. I’ve been an avid student in Sketchbook school for the past six weeks – I found my monkey for once drowned out by a sense of exploration and participation. It’s clearly (now anyway) a pretty slick platform, and I’m not surprised that it’s taken a lot of work to develop. I often look at people like yourself (blogging, drawing, writing, teaching and developing courses) and wonder – where do they fit it all in!? How do they replenish themselves? This post is a great reflection on taking stock, part of the way though a project or vision, to see if it’s still driving you in the way it once was. I sincerely hope that sketchbook school will remain in some incarnation, but also that you can develop a relationship with it which fulfils you. This may not be the exact moment to think about this, but in the spirit of honest exchange: I especially love your idea of art for all, and I think that a lot of the students in the school would feel similarly. In the future (just to add more complication 🙂 !) could people/corporations “gift” a semester of sketchbook school to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it?

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  34. Welcome back! We do those things to ourselves – and then we readjust as we recognize the old patterns taking over again!

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  35. Danny, thank you. I had grown sad these last months that the very guy who inspired a new phase of my life had become lost, and had turned into yet another Internet commodity. I had hoped (but frankly doubted) that you might someday realize you’d lost touch with something important. But I never expected it to come so soon, and with such a gracious, honest acknowledgement to your readers.

    So tell your Monkey to shut up or I’ll come after him with a club. Sometimes early success is the surest harbinger of a deeper failure in the future. But you picked up on the warning signs almost instantly, and are taking steps to adjust course. I think that is as important a lesson for us as any of the courses in SBS.

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  36. Thank you so much for your honesty. I’ve been with SBS since the beginning and as said above, it really has changed my life. Thanks to you, Koosje and Morgan for all you do and have done. It has been an amazing experience and I look forward to the next klass as well as your book. Take care of yourself.

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    1. I am delighted to read your blog Danny. I do hope you are feeling happier now – you deserve to be, for telling us how you feel and for your honesty! I have done all three courses with SBS and am currently doing Bootkamp. You and Koosje have been an inspiration to so many of your students and you must both feel that it has all become one enormous responsibility – ‘like Topsy it just growed and growed’ – but believe me it has been terrific for all of us. I do hope you all carry on. Without being selfish at all, you are doing and have done an incredible job and I do hope you will find a way that will satisfy you, Koosje, Morgan and all the team. I love you all – in spite of my occasional moans! – and will always remain a loyal SBSer. Look forward to your next book Danny and to seeing how your ‘dream’ continues to evolve.
      Love Val.

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  37. We come to you not for you to please us but for us to observe you–having fun, producing art, being creative. Some students lost sight of that while on Sketchbook Skool. They “fell behind” on assignments, had technical issues, etc. I can’t speak for anyone else but I am happy to go along for the ride. I feel privileged. And when you stop having fun, please stop doing whatever it is. We will survive. But your creative spirit may not if you don’t change course. Thank you for sharing all these years.

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  38. Glad to hear you are coming around. The distance was apparent starting the trip across the country. Up through Boot Kamp, sketchbook skool was amazing. I have to admit I dropped out during Stretching. I just cannot draw one more coffee shop/ urban scene/ animal with my eyes open/closed/tied behind my back. I don’t want to join another discussion about ink/pens/sketchbooks, so I’m rethinking things too. I haven’t stopped sketchbooking and I have learned and amazing amount but sometimes it is time to just move along. I recently visited my alma mater from where I earned two degrees. It was nice to be back, a lot has changed, so have I, and we’ve both moved on. Perhaps there is a time in SNS where we all need to graduate.

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  39. Hey, I think your soul searching is paying off. I think Sketchbook Skool has exposed us to many, many different talents artists and we have been able to absorb info. from all of them. There has been so much diversity for us to learn from. I actually think this is a good place to stop introducing yet more and more. You have given all of us who are totally addicted to Sketchbook Skool all the basics we need to apply our newly acquired knowledge into practice.
    You have chosen the perfect time to Reset and move ahead.
    Having you and Koosje as our only future instructors is great…. kind of feels like we have moved on from taking several Bachelor’s Degree courses and we are now moving to the Masters level with our two Staff Advisors.

    Thanks for pouring out your concerns…..now it is time for a new beginning and a return to the kind of person YOU want to be.
    Thanks!

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  40. Danny, you’re back! I’m surprised so many people here said, “yep, I saw it coming” or “I could tell you were checked out”. Who says that to a friend? There has been a lot of honesty shared in the comments, and you started the conversation with your bravery…bravery to admit something you thought would be so great had made you a little sad. I think so many people stopped posting (myself included, happy though not to be the only one!) because we couldn’t find you in it anymore. Your books, Koosje and France’s new books, fly off the shelves because we want to hear your voices in our heads encouraging us to be ourselves, that what we see every day, what we eat, and even the tiny, stolen moments we take for ourselves matter. Danny, thanks for being you: honest, brave and true.

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  41. I think we all knew it became a giant at the start and the giant had to be fed…. Sorry you got lost in it all and glad you are back. You are an inspiration to a lot of people around the world and we all are continuing to learn and grow with you. Thank you for you.

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  42. Dear Danny,
    I’m so glad that you decided to write this blog post. For years I have followed it and around the time I enrolled in Sketchbook Skool, I did notice a decline in blog posts and was a bit bummed about it bc I appreciated your voice. Your honesty. Your candor. When I say your first book changed my life, I’m being very serious. It did and it has opened so many doors for me and given me my young artist confidence back. This blog and your words on it are what always reinforced the belief that I am an artist. This blog was a pep talk for me whenever you posted. I’m glad that you have realized the direction you were taking and are in the process of course-correcting it. It takes a brave person to realize. A braver person to want to change, and the bravest to share it all with others. I look forward to more of your writing here and hopefully more fun opportunities with your students! Until then, all my best wishes for you and your future endeavors!

    Sincerely,
    Paula R.

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  43. Way to go Danny, your instincts will get you through this. I miss your not blogging but with all that was and is going on it was understandable. Yet you seem to be self-correcting and that is what matters. Yes the new site is challenging but isn’t that great, cause I can see what you and Koosje are trying to accomplish. By the way you not only have your monkey to deal with, but added everybody elses’ monkey, so it’s not only Art for All but also Art for All and Everybody’s Monkey along with it. remember who you are (and I think you do), your art got you through one of the most difficult events one could imagine so everything else should be easy but of course we know that isn’t true. I really like you.

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  44. Great post and good to see you return. Sometimes it is just good to push everything out of the way, to stop and find yourself. I enjoy SBS but am always thankful when a semester is over. I have trouble finding myself again. Can’t wait to be me again. Whatever me is. Me is taking shape thanks to SBS.

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  45. Thank you Danny for your honesty. The words to a song by Jerry Santos came to mind when I finished reading your blog this morning…
    “Last night I dreamt I was returning….And my heart called out to you….To please accept me as you find me…”
    You are my art hero…you will find your way back. Keep sharing with us…we are your “family” now. We will accept you as we find you.

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  46. Good for you!

    Quite honestly, I haven’t read most of your recent posts because they were self-promotions. And, sadly, I was beginning to not like the huckster in my mail box. That response was also affecting my response to Sketchbook Skool. What happened to the sincere guy who was a pleasure to know?

    So welcome back Danny!!!

    I love Sketchbook Skool, Art 4 All and your new platform! But not at the personal price that you and Koosje have had to pay. I am happy for you both now that you are returning to what you love. I hope that Skool will continue in some form, but only if you both are having fun and feeling good.

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  47. Great ! Congrats! You are doing the right thing.I am glad you realized you were leaving behind a mask of Danny Gregory whom i really admire as a regular Joe! I look forward to sharing in your adventures.

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  48. OMG! Under the upbeat, uber-creative artist and kick-in-my-pants guru, beats the heart of a real, everyday, down-to-earth human being struggling with the wonky scale of “life and work and creativity issues. Dang, you just moved to the top of my list of most authentic people in the world. Kudos to you Danny for keeping it real and more so, for sharing your reality. Now, pick up your pen/pencil and sketch pad, and make some art. Love.

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  49. Wondered where you’very been. Welcome back. I’ve missed your posts of honesty and art and guidance. Everything is okay. It’s all good.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Danny…you are awesome…no matter what! Airing your laundry, inspiring us to draw & create, being passionate enough to bring your art dreams to fruition, allowing us to share your journey, being honest enough to shift course when the ship is running amuck…these are all the hallmark of a renaissance man! It’s called growth of the spirit!

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  51. Welcome back Danny. I hear you! I rather see you happy and sketching, writing and reading, and going to museums with your pal Tommy Kane than trying to be a superman for everyone! Whatever has to happen with SBS it’s going to be ok. It has been truly amazing! But creations are like our kids. We bring them to the world… but they are themselves. They can live their own life. You can always be a student at SBS and ask if anyone else is interested in being the master! 😉 That said… I still will be an SBS fan till the end!

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  52. I wrote this morning and it disappeared into moderator cyberspace…but the gist of it is that many of us can understand the pitfall that snagged you through the creation and management of SBS…..doesn’t change the fact though that you and Koosje have acted like battery cables for many of us and started us upon or back on a great journey of our own because of the gargantuan effort you put into the creation of SBS. I had wondered if the management of such a growing entity would have an impact…it did for me on the student end. Anything you put out there to help us continue sharing in the community you started would be most welcome because you have made me feel like I’m a card carrying member of the group and SBS has helped justify my desire to draw and leave a legacy in my wake….just for the sheer pleasure of expressing my life through drawings.
    Thanks Danny….your blogs are such a boost to our creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Danny, you have rec’d so much in these emails.. I just think adding another pointed finger is counterproductive..I love to think of you as the guy who, long ago, got me interested in drawing A LOT again and how much I appreciate it and your care..I just kept thinking, well, he has to sell books, to live and keep a kid in school, constantly making excuses, then realized I was not excited seeing your name come up, any more..to my mind and heart, you are still the guy who said..’play, draw, do it now, you will love it’..just reread the newest book, you still have it, for all of your fans and yourself… I personally have been known to thank you every day… welcome back…s

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  54. Danny, I started following you with SBS last year. As a very new artist, my dream is to sketch and create and document my life, as you do. SBS helped but I also got overwhelmed with such talent. My monkey would not shut up. I am learning , through you and your books and your blog, to quiet that monkey.

    Writing this blog today is what I call being “naked in the ballroom” , pure honesty and nothing to hide. You are amazing. I will be back with you and Koosje. You are all we need. Keep blogging like this. We are all with you, carbuncles and all!! Karen

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  55. I also stopped reading and began deleting but didn’t unsubscribe hoping you would be back.
    Perhaps we will one day see this New Yorker sketching and laughing with the NYC Urban Sketchers. Hmm?

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  56. Thank you for your honesty, itll take you to where you want to go. Just started reading your blog isnt it amazing how many people felt the way you did.

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  57. YES, YES, YES! Go Danny Go! Thanks for Brene Brown-ing up the Art world with a little vulnerability. We ALL struggle with keeping up the perfect mask, we all struggle with what we are doing vs. what we want to be doing, we all get ourselves down paths that we finally look up from and say “Wwwhhhaaaaatt??!! How did I get here??” But very few of us talk about any of this. THANK YOU for being your perfectly imperfect wartily self. Three Cheers for Danny!

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  58. I have been reading your blog for years and you are truely gifted. SBS has been a bit insane (too big). But it was a wonderful experience. Good luck to you in whatever you decide to do.

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  59. Wonderful thoughtful post. I think you are being kind of hard on yourself. I’m not sure why… I guess we all do it. I got a lot out of the two SBS classes I took. I am an oil painter, and I got so much out of Beginnings and Storytelling. It has definitely seeped into my oil painting work. There was no other way I could have gotten there except through a class set up like yours. Thank you!

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  60. Lovely post Danny but also one that makes me a little sad because I can only guess what it must have cost to write it and also because Sketchbook Skool has made me so happy and it saddens me to think that something that has given me so much has begun to feel maybe a little like a burden to you and Koosje. Stretching has been such an amazing experience and the only thing that has been missing from it has been the two of you. But the new kourse sounds both intriguing and delightful and I sincerely hope that you can find a balance between your own creative life and the demands of SBS, so that you can keep creating great art and great books but also, selfishly, so that you can continue inspiring so many people,like me around the world with your words and your drawings and your incredible Skool.

    Liked by 1 person

  61. It really is a dilemma– how to do what you love and make a living at it, all at the same time? How do you separate out the things you do for money from the things you do for love? And when does the focus shift, and suddenly you don’t love what you’re doing anymore? I have to say that some of the artists I see on Facebook, whose work is certainly wonderful, but when all they do is promote themselves, I lose interest. I want to see unfamiliar things made from love, inspiration, excitement, not from a commercial impulse. But what can they do? This is their (nearly impossible) way of earning a living. And you’ve certainly inspired thousands of people to do something that helped you– you’ve done a lot of good for others while also finding a new way to make a living. You have the skills and the personality to make that happen, many of us do not. I’ve always made my living teaching, since my business brain is the size of a flea. I’m grateful for having had a long university career, teaching things that are related to the things I want to make, anyway. (sounds great, but academia also has its drawbacks…) But I don’t have your business acumen. I guess the down side of having those capabilities is when they get mixed in with the things you’re doing for emotional and intellectual reasons. It’s not surprising that this happens, and it seems as if your awareness of it will help you sort it out. Maybe you need some external inspiration, the sorts of things we’ve found it in the things you’ve shown us.

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  62. Welcome back Danny. Looking forward to another semester with you and Koosje at the helm again.

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  63. Hi Danny, my deepest appreciation to your honesty. And yes, this is why I come back from time to time to this blog. Changing skin and developing new skills fromm scratch and attempt be a creative individual outside of a “business box” is the toughest path I have choosen in my life and it’s truly amazing and encouraging to see I have choosen the right tutors to help me stick to my resolution. I have been in Skool since the very start and, however it will evolve, it is and remains an amazing adventure that has radically transformed my life.
    And now I am going to draw my dinner and feel happy that the Danny I thought was Danny is back. 🙂
    Cheers
    Camilla

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  64. I have taken every semester of Sketchbook Skool and I have followed you for years. I said late last year to my partner I MISS CALIFORNIA DANNY!!

    Welcome home, you have been missed.

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  65. Thank you for this, Danny and welcome back.
    Whatever happens with SBS, I’d just like to put on record that the vision you and Koosje had and brought to life has transformed my own creative life. And that’s for keeps. Thank you; but so sorry you and the lovely Koosje got ‘lost’ in the melee. Kudos to you for your honesty, self-awareness and your reset button. Just another reason why we love you! Stay happy, keep drawing, all will be well 🙂

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  66. So glad you wrote this Blog, Danny. I too deleted your past blogs because I knew it was just more of the “buy this from me”. I really loved Sketch Book Skool; but until recently I was in the same situation you’re talking about….not doing what I really wanted to do and being pulled every which way. But, no more. I retired in January of this year and I’m free to watercolor (my favorite thing) while I sit in our fine art gallery. I love the idea of just you and Koosje teaching the lesson. I’ll sign up again. My e-mail has changed, so I’ll re-register here. Looking forward to seeing the NEW Sketch Book Skool. Judy Breedlove – jbreedlove@peoplepc.com.

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  67. It’s a classic Michael Gerber E-Myth scenario. People go into business to make a living doing what they love, then find out that as an entrepreneur, your job is to run a business, which entails a whole lot of things you don’t really even like. Unless you can grow it big enough and charge enough to hire a staff to keep it self-running, it quickly does become consuming (someone has to do it!) and it’s really easy to get stuck there, especially when it’s your major or sole source of income. For anyone contemplating a full time career as a freelance artist, especially in these troubled and turbulent times, do read the E-Myth for a cold hard dose of reality. It’s a lot easier to deal with the role of entrepreneur when you take it on with eyes wide open. As for Danny – Sir, you are a thousand times blessed and have a world of options. Follow your Bliss, and it will lead you out of the Sucking hole of hucksterdom. 😉

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  68. I really thought you were a goner — thank you so much for working on your authenticity. Lots of us benefit from anything you do, but the marketing blitz was a bit much. It takes strength and determination to assert your true self in the face of all the societal pressures. Thanks for the perspective lesson 🙂

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  69. The first thing I noticed when I started “Stretching” was there were no weeks devoted to Danny or Koosje. The other teachers were great, to be sure, but something was missing. The new platform was bewildering. I didn’t finish all the lessons.
    Despite these drawbacks the SBS has given me encouragement, hints, feedback, and contacts that have improved my work. I’m looking forward to seeing how Danny and Koosje handle things so they can have some fun and continue to lead the way.

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  70. Oh their you are, hang in there Danny sometimes life takes us in different directions. It takes love sometimes of what we do to get us back to where we want to be.Love you much.

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  71. Takes a wise and brave man to write this. Thank you for reminding us you are first the creative person we found so appealing those many years ago. Stick with it!

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  72. Danny, like the other artists, I noticed an increased commercial and depersonalized perspective in your blog. It takes a lot of caring and humbleness to share your emotions and insights as you have just done. I greatly appreciate your warmth and enthusiasm for art which makes me happy, and I’m glad you’re back! I’m looking forward to your new book and the next Kourse.

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  73. This blog entry confirm my fears that SBS had outperformed your wildest expectations and become a Big Ship that would leave you and Koosje no time for being the artists you are. Suddenly you turn around and realize you are spending hours managing people who do the stuff you no longer have time to do, and enjoy so much. You’ve given a beautiful gift to so many people, that’s the pat on the back you can give yourself, and move on if you want to. Quit, Danny! find another artist who’ll be happy to follow you at the helm. We’ll miss you, but we’ll survive. You’ve been in charge, but you’re not responsible forever. If you choose not to quit that’s because maybe there is still something in there for you?

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  74. Danny, thanks for the honesty. I could say welcome to humanity. It would be impossible to be all things to all people and do it well and be satisfied 100% of the time. You absolutely know that without me saying it. SBS is a business and even if you hadn’t charged for it you still would have needed lawyers and who knows who else to consult, (to protect yourself from who knows what) so that might not have been any better than the situation you’ve been in. As you’ve counseled us, do what you love. Perhaps you’ve discovered what movie stars feel like sometimes. Wherever your journey leads enjoy it even if you decided to go another direction. Count me as one person who will be forever grateful for having been told about Danny Gregory (Please don’t ask me from whom… I don’t remember.) .

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  75. You don’t suck Danny, you’re just doing this thing called life, which is full of changes, where we live, who we are surrounded by, and what we like to do. what we are interested in can change from time to time! BEST wishes.

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  76. I say do what you want to do. You started a couple of communities, all are great and encouraging and delightful. But who wants to be boxed in anywhere, no one does. Take time, refresh, be happy in all you have done for yourself and us. Go make mud pies, run after the ice cream man and learn how to whistle, or make new fast sounds. Life is short, you know that, be happy… that is what we want for you.

    take care,
    patty

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  77. Thank you Danny for staring the Skool and inspiring others. You are an artist rather than a “boss man” as far as I can see from your blog. It is wonderful that you re – evaluated your goals and purpose. How I wish I could be a travelli g companion on your upcoming ventures. You have touched a lot of others with your Skool, videos and books. Thank you.

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  78. In life, as in art, it’s all about the basics, balance, and bravery. SBS has been great in so many ways, but the monkeys are still out there, and your post was a reminder I needed, too. Thanks for your honesty.

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  79. Well I just started Sketchbook Skool so I don’t have an opinion on platforms and how it works really. All I would like to say is that I enjoy most the teaching that is just an artist sharing how they do their own work and what tools they use etc. I don’t like the more coscious presentation styles that make me feel like a customer. For instance, I can’t believe that Koosje is a real person, she sounds too contrived. I didn’t enjoy being told to make time for myself by a busy mother, wife etc by Brenda and especially didn’t appreciate being told how wonderful her marriage is thanks.
    ,
    I loved Jonathan Twingley, Lapin, Fabio, Miguel, Jason

    I have not yet seen all the videos from Roz, Tommy, Jane.

    Kathy, Andrea and Liz – their videos are not ready to view at time of writing

    The music chosen is generally ok and not too intrusive. However… the Sketchbook Skool jingle and graphic is driving me nuts! Every time it comes on all my animals wake up and look worried. Very disturbing!

    I don’t know if any of this is helpful or just annoying of me! Anyway, I am deeply appreciative of all you and Koosje have been doing behind the scenes. It must have been a lot of work, research, getting teams together etc. Thank you also to the people we don’t see, secretarial, camera crew and all those who have helped to make this all happen and the growing community of artists out there and in my heart now. Thank you for sharing.

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  80. I feel your pain. I’m also constantly re-evaluating myself. I have grandiose ideas, but I’ve not followed through with them for the very reasons you cite. I would need to incorporate, hire lawyers, and accountants… Nope. I don’t need nor want that part of it. Why can’t we just do the stuff of our dreams without all the falderal!??

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  81. Loved reading this because, never having been in the business world myself, I had no idea what happens backstage to produce what seemed a simple project–your Sketchbook Skool. I am glad there are people like you since I tend to be very tentative, procrastinating and only did the first assignment in the last excellent online class I took (Carla Sonheim’s “Year of the Fairy Tale”). However, I am so glad you are getting “out of the boardroom” and back into your own Garden of Imagination and Delight wherever that takes you!

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  82. Good for you for telling your truth, Danny. When inside you’re not a corporate face, it can kill that artistic inspiration every time you have you have to step into that “not you” roll. I have to admit, I had seen a change in SBS in the last two classes. The first two were so free and YOU. Storytelling and Stretching, not so much. I sure would love to see you and Koosje get back to what you do best, teach others how to just be free to explore simple art to make happiness. Good on you Danny, would it be inappropriate to say I’m proud of you? :o)

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  83. Don’t let the monkey beat you up for the choices you’ve made. Or for writing your first proper blog post in ages : ) I’m looking forward to the next chapter. Welcome back, Danny!

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  84. Danny you have shared your vision and given so many the permission and inspiration to sketch! Creating our own art & memories when we look back on these sketchbooks they will be treasured ( for generations to come! Thank you for all you have done for so many of us around the world!

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  85. Thanks for writing that! You were starting to get a little too shiny and awesome to be believable! I see some of my own struggles reflected there to (although mine are microscopic in comparison to SBS) making money from creativity can create the most exquisite knots. I’m so glad you shared that! Good luck with your next adventure.

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  86. Oh… I can’t say I didn’t liked the last kourses of SBS, there were great teachers and I enjoyed the lessons. But there was something, that was missing. When I read this post I said “yes” to myself… 🙂

    It may not be easy, but I’m sure you will also find a way to lead this monkey in the right direction.

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  87. Though I seldom comment, I’ve admired and been inspired by you and your stories, both written and drawn, since I first found them in ‘The Creative License’ – nearly a decade ago, now, I think. Today is no exception. If anything, I admire and am even more inspired, than ever by what you’ve shared with us today. You made the comparison in that book between learning to drive and learning to draw, an idea that can be applied to a lot of life, I think. Human beings get distracted or disoriented, make wrong turns on occasion and when we realize, thankfully, we can take a moment to get our bearings, turn around and get back on course. Don’t let the monkey in the backseat, beat you up over it. Damn backseat driver…

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  88. Keep evolving and keep telling the truth about it as you come to know it. Danny 1, Monkey 0, Slick less than 0.

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  89. Keep writing, keep creating. You’ve inspired many, myself included, who i’m sure appreciate you taking the time and energy to post these thoughts.

    This one especially hits the honesty button. Years ago your book inspired me to pick up a sketchbook again and make it a daily ritual that continually fills the cup. So, thank you. What you have done has made a huge difference.

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  90. Great post Danny. I read the entire thing. Well written and as others have mentioned heartfelt and honest. I love sketchbook Skool and am so happy you started it. I hope that you will continue to find the joy in all that you do.

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  91. You are so amazing- sharing all this with us- it makes you human- meaning instead of Danny the drawing super star you are Danny- still incredibly talented- still a great teacher but we see the human side as well- we are all team members. I taught art for 36 years and for similar reason that you just mentioned- but adding insane governmental intrusions- I stopped- retired- now I make art I do lots of collaborations with other artists and I teach workshops.

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  92. Glad you have found your voice, and your desire again. I appreciate all the work you and Koosje have done, but I know it takes so much more than you can do yourselves. Keep going on your search, I am rooting for you.

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  93. One poster said “glad you got your head out of your ass”. Whoa, that’s harsh.

    I’m just glad you are kicking the monkey and “man” in the nuts.

    This is a no prisoners life and country, unforgiving and crude. We are also a forgiving society… so…thank you for striking rich and deep into the neck, coming out the other end and surviving.

    I am forever grateful to Sketchbook Skool, your words and shared experiences.

    You are a badass!

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  94. Years ago, I loved and admired you and read all your books. Then I found the blog and well, I thought I’d gotten older and a bit less wide-eyed. I signed up for a class and it was interesting, but I didn’t sign up for another.

    The problem with working in the corporate world is that it becomes our identity. We can open our own business, but we follow the American business model of fast, complete, and sell it. Hard. We can move to another town, but we come along and do the same thing there.

    Everyone should write a book about the inner critic. (I did, and I know what I’m talking about). You stand naked in front of yourself and see all that dodging and shrugging in a shadow-less light.

    I’m glad you are back. Now you are making sense again.

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  95. First blog I have seen and read. Not a blogger so had no idea what to expect. O how I wish I was as brave as you. Had seen an add for your Skool and it was going to be my reward after completion of a number of jobs I need to do this year… A Xmas present to myself. I look forward to the NEW incarnation. Thank you.

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  96. I am so glad to read this post from you, Danny. I started drawing for the first time a year ago during the first Sketchbook Klass. You made me feel I could do it. You were, and are, my inspiration and my person I go to when I feel discouraged and want to give up. You seem like such a warm, genuine person. I’ve missed your posts and your “voice.” I was disappointed in the self-promotion I was seeing but then, we all have to make a living and was happy for all your success. I am, however, happy to have you back. I think your real gift is in inspiring others and making them feel they can do it.

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  97. Thanks for this. By the way, California is still here.

    It’s not so easy to love yourself and care for yourself, actually NOURISH yourself and not necessarily with food, so that you can continue to be the amazing you intended.

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  98. You continue to impress with your presence. Humbleness mixed with talents, and supreme honesty with yourself and others…what gifts & lessons to follow. Creativity, kindness. love and humanity Namaste Danny is pretty powerful …& power to the people!

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  99. Dear Danny,

    Thank you for being so honest with us. I, for one, greatly appreciate the courage and soul-searching required to write “Why I started to suck….”.

    Sincerely,
    Suzy

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  100. Danny you are YOU! Yes, lots of crap started to creep in, but even then you would creep out from under the pile! Guess that is why we love you so much! Thanks for your wonderful honesty here and always. I have loved every bit of Sketchbook Skool and know the new Kourses will be great…love the idea of more Danny and Koojse in the next one! Big inky painty hugs to you both. Can’t wait for the “Monkey” book……just what I need….I keep throwing bananas white I wait!

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  101. This post reminds me of an old joke. Sex is like pizza, even when its bad its still pretty good. You are kinda like that, even when you think you are bad you are still awesome. I’ve been out of your orb for a while so will have to catch up on your latest books. The monkey books sounds AMAZING.

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  102. As a Haisdic proverb goes…..rake the muck this way, rake the muck that way…it will still be muck . In the time you are brooding you could be stringing pearls for the delight of heaven. I am thankful for Sketchbook Skool..you all have given so much to all of us! But it sounds to me like you need to go back to Cali and eat kale and feed the hummingbirds! String some pearls! Sketch them!

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  103. Wow, thank you! I was tired of all the promos and was wondering if you were ever coming back. Glad to see you’re back on track!

    – Tina

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  104. What you’ve written needs a lot of self analysis and courage to write! Kudos to you Danny! 😊

    And I should tell you this that I’ve really missed yours and Koosje’s lessons at Sketchbook Skool! It just doesn’t feel the same.. I’m really excited to see what you guys will come up with next! 😃 best of luck to both of you!

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  105. all good Danny, it happens to us all. Glad you have shared your discovery and let’s get on with ‘making’ together. I’m signing up again for the next kourse, just so you know, based entirely on this confession…. naw, actually I would have signed up anyways…. SBS is a gem. Onwards and Upwards mate!

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  106. Thank you for your honesty! It had been a while since I actually read one of your posts until the end. Self-promotion is great, but it started to be too much too often 😉 Glad you’re back and looking forward to your next venture! 🙂

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  107. Bonjour Danny. I am writing from France, just after my first cold toasts breakfast because of you!! I just got art before breakfast yesterday in the post and I did my fist sketchbook entry today! I really love this post of yours. Your honesty is very touching. and your feelings are totally understandable. We all need to recharge and to focus on what makes us happy. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds now for you. Sophie

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  108. You’re not alone ! Ive just gone through a similar experience as a photographer and so glad I’m out the other side (just about), spent the last 18 months in a awful place, hating myself, what i was doing, what i was creating and to top it off I had no support from my partner whats so ever. Last year i discovered ‘urban sketching’ on my facebook feed and with a little digging and hours of trolling the internet I stumbled upon Sketchbook Skool. I loved art at school, loved drawing and painting and all things creative and I missed it desperately. Last night I spent three of the most wonderful and blissful hours just drawing and colouring, listening to some of the best music Florance and The Machine has to offer, sipping warm green tea …… and I am back, happy, content and best of all, creative; thanks to you Danny and all the folks at Sketchbook Skool.

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  109. I am six years retired but I still find myself retreating into old work habits, committees, spreadsheets, decision making, projects. Setting them aside and stepping away from old identities and embracing the wild possibilities of a new life is challenging. Your latest blog has helped me to put words to my current sense of unrest. I find that getting out into nature helps so tomorrow I set off for the tiny island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. It is a great way to do a hard restart and defrag the brain. Blessings.

    Simon, Northampton UK

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  110. now don’t you feel better ? maybe you’re putting too much weight on being honest with your”followers” when the only person who really needs your honesty-is you.

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  111. Ah I think we all take time out from our blogs, get sidetracked, caught up in the ‘other’ side of life than what we want. It may take awhile getting back in the swing, but never be hard on yourself. You bring so much to so many people, and there’s only one of you. I think sometimes these things happen so that we are forced to stop and relook and reprioritise and come back better than before 🙂 wonderfully from the heart post … So very thankful for SBS which I only found a cple weeks ago. The work you have done is fantastic and I’ve learnt so much already. You are a breath of fresh air. But you’re also human juggling heaps of things because you have a passion and a gift for sharing. But you need your ‘me’ time most of all. Glad you have found that 🙂

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  112. Phew! I thought it was just me. I’ve been following you forever and noticed I wasn’t tuning in as often but couldn’t put my finger on why until today. Thank you for being so willing to dig deep Danny. I remembered today why I own most of your books and list you as my favorite author. Viva simplicity and fun!

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  113. Danny: I have so enjoyed all you’ve ever done….I started with everyday matters when you only had 13 entries on your list and before I even had a way to share what I was doing….it was just important to me that I do it. I am 70 so I have had quite a few pot holes and ruts to get over in my life, muddy roads that got me “stuck” sometimes and speed traps when I was trying to avoid the rules of life and forgot. So, what I do when I don’t know what to do is this….I do what I know. I keep on just doing something that is familiar to me until inspiration grabs hold of me and I can move on. I bought your book “Art Before Breakfast” at the museum store in Crystal Bridges when I was there for the first time. Previously I had trouble getting it….you will never know the child-like gasp I made when I saw your book there….just waiting for ME. Something familiar by an old friend. Thanks Danny for all you do for so many people.

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  114. While I am new to your blog and have not participated in sketchbook school nor read your books, I did stumble upon you through another blog and liked what your blog was about, so I subscribed. I did wonder why there were so few posts and the few I did see were about sketchbook school, which was fine with me.

    At the risk of offending all your readers, I must say I find it irritating that folks “stopped reading your blog when it became self-promoting or commercialized”.

    So it’s okay when an artist is not making money at selling their art, then everyone is a follower and loves the “poor me” saga? But the minute an artist or anyone for that matter tries to earn a living at their craft, people turn their backs and walk away. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Danny had every right to self-promote and sell sketchbook school on his blog! How else is he going to get the word out about the school? And why should they work for free?

    Kudos to you Danny for realizing you weren’t happy and figuring out how to fix it, but never apologize for success or your tenacity to earn a living at what you love!

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    1. Well, nobody said that an artist shouldn’t earn money by doing what he does, otherwise we wouldn’t have subscribed Sketchbookskool which costs. Several here have written that they had joined several courses.

      Nobody says, an artist shouldn’t do marketing to promote himself. But: When you subscribe for a blog you do that because you like the person who writes or you like what she writes or both. When then this articles change and the person behind seems to change as well is that no problem and it’s this persons’ right, but: I don’t have to read everything when it doesn’t interest me. As soon as I worked in the marketing and ad business as well I know the business and I don’t like it anymore – several reasons for that. Why should I read marketing stuff when I don’t like it? It’s my spare time. But: I still do like Danny and admire what he does and has done. And I am still in his courses and have his books here. Am I to blame just because I didn’t want to read everything? I am still here and I have read this… and so did the others who commented…

      If Danny had decided to go this way any further and he loves what he is doing right now – fine! That would be great, because it is him to decide about his life. But he thought it wasn’t really what he wanted. And that’s great, too. Each day is a new chance to start new things or reconnect with old ones.

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  115. Let’s just stop. I am. I’ve posted a similar thing in my own blog, almost a year ago. I’m trying to live it, now, one thing at a time.

    I’m simplifying my life, cutting out those things that don’t feed me, saying no. We don’t HAVE to make things complex for ourselves, but it’s hard to foresee unintended consequences. And the Internet is a huge, busy place with millions of readers who always want more, and new. I don’t blame them–but I’m 72 and focusing more and more on things that are important to me.

    Good for you, Danny. SBS has been wonderful, but it definitely got complicated, hugely so. Not fun.

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  116. Sketchbook Skool is a great thing; you given a lot of wonderful people a platform — and I will NEVER forget that wonderful Veronica Lawlor dance video — that was so epic! But nothing goes on forever and you can be proud of what you and Koosje created, and just let it exist, without the need to keep producing newer and newer episodes. It can just be……and you can move on with a light heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  117. Grateful, Grateful, Grateful. It is obvious that many many care about you as I do and have been concerned, by these comments. You have been one of my heroes and yes, I too stopped reading your blog as it lost what I most cherished, your honesty and vulnerability. I have also loved sketchbook school, especially the first semester and I am grateful for the opportunities it has allowed me up here in my mountain valley. The format and a few other things made this last one hard for me to involve myself in. Perhaps it will come. I assumed the greed ruling our world had taken over and was sad. I did not think of the complications and challenges You and K faced. I have deeper understanding and so glad to see you back!

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  118. I generally like what you say, but you should be ashamed of yourself for having your book printed in China, and a strike at the docks isn’t such a surprising result. What’s the matter with US printers?????

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  119. Danny,

    Thanks for the post.

    I’d thought your good idea was suffering the usual growing- away- from- you pains and lamented. However, there is a littlebusiness problem: when I tried to subscribe to following your new path, the computer gremlins shut me out.

    I’d like to follow you and your new path. If you can quiet the computer’s gremlins please do. If you just keep posting to the email address that brought me the post below, GREAT!

    Sally M

    Sally with Two Poodles 😉

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  120. I am so grateful that you wrote this post. I had kinda given up on it, but I kept checking it every few days hoping to see if ‘you’ were back. So many people lose sight of what is important in their lives and never reflect on things when they lose their vision. They just go with the flow, and the attitude becomes “it is what it is.” Having you reflect and then open up to all of us your very human struggles with what is happening in your life is so amazing. And that upon reflection you are ready to make changes and DO something about it is very inspiring. I was a part of Sketchbook Skool from the start, and have learned so much. I am looking forward to more, regardless of the bumps along the way. You and Koosje have made a very positive impact on my life.
    Thank you.

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  121. Welcome back Danny!!!! Keep being honest and writing straight from the heart and keep reminding yourself of why you started this journey – being true to that vision is what makes SBS so successful, you don’t need to sell it in the corporate sense of the word.

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  122. What a great post, Danny. I could tell in the one follow-up video you did for SBS a few weeks ago that you just were not into it this semester. I thought in a naive way that you would be participating in even a small way in your Beginning class or elsewhere in the new platform, but you were nowhere to be found…but where you were was in a more important place for you, where you had time to think and reassess your priorities. Everyone goes through that.

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  123. Great insights, Danny – thank you for sharing a bit about your process – but most importantly, for coming back to the center of your creative truth. It is so easy to think that online courses need to be highly produced, made with the latest platforms and technologies and reach mass numbers to be effective or a ‘success’, or that an online business has to follow all the rules of presentation and marketing we learned in the offline world – and it’s simply not true. Keeping it so simple – and keeping it real – can be just as effective in reaching our audience with inspirational learning content AND even in making a living from our art while still allowing us space and time to be true to what fills the well to make creativity a way of experiencing life. Best wishes as you re-focus!

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  124. Danny,
    Sorry you feel so overwhelmed and a little lost. Just reading about everything that is involved with growing the online skool stresses me out! I have loved everything you and Koosje have done with SBS. You have opened a whole new wonderful world to me and I truly appreciate it. Sometimes it is important to simplify. Being creative, true to who you are, and enjoying what you do should be your number one priority. Life is too short!!! Do what you love. I will continue to follow you and Koosje no matter. Thank you for all your hard work. I have learned so much from you and all of the fantastic artists at SBS. I will take that with me always. Take care, breathe, and have a glass of wine!!! I’ll see you in one month…rejuvenated and recharged!!!!

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  125. Awww… Danny.
    The path to wholeness is something we all struggle with and it’s never straight or clear. Alas.
    Derek Walcott’s lovely poem “Love After Love” is tacked to my inspiration board. Probably should staple it to my forehead…

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  126. Such a relief to read this from you! Thank you for this honest, brave and truthful post. You have been an inspiration long before Sketchbook Skool, and will, I hope, continue to be one in the future. I loved the first sessions when you and Koosje were part of the faculty, and I still go back and watch those videos. The energy generated by those first sessions was incredible, but I figured out early on that I personally could never keep up with the social network side of Sketchbook Skool. What I wanted was the artistic knowledge and inspiration that was so generously shared by the teachers, and that was worth every penny to me. But trying to keep up with the “platform” and the rest of it was impossible for me with work, family and life. I continue to make art on a regular basis and I sincerely hope that you find your way back to that goal as well. Bravo for this big step back to a simpler way of life.

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  127. The man I first started connecting with has reappeared above the mound of debris that has collected on top of him in recent times. We all need to take stock regularly regarding what is most important to us and you have kick started us, yet again, into re-looking honestly at ourselves through your experiences. Well done and Thank you!

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  128. WOW! Danny I’m glad to read this, thank you for that and “welcome back” 🙂 I used to read every of your new posts and mostly it made my day – I’m glad you’re “back again”. 🙂

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  129. I’m so glad that you didn’t wander too far off course before you found yourself and understood what was happening before wasting more time. I’ve known you long enough to trust that the real Danny would show up before long.
    Isn’t it ironic that friends see negative changes but so few will confront us? This post came at just the right time for me; I’ve been doing the same thing as you…seeking success in the eyes of others instead of doing what I want to for the pure pleasure of making art. No more. I’ll honor my commitments but I’ll stop chasing the dollar and the honor, starting now….with thanks to you for showing me the way. I see more drawing for pleasure, more painting for the joy of pushing color around, more summer afternoons doing nothing just because that’s what I want to do.

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    1. It’s so interesting to read this because I was gone through exactly the same (I also wrote a blog about it). I’ve been drawing and hoping it get’s some likes. I didn’t draw anymore what came to my mind but what I knew people like most when I do it. And suddenly I sat there without the joy I used to feel earlier.

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  130. I applaude your bravery and honesty. I never had a problem with the promotions of your books or the Skool. They are valuable gifts to the world. Groundbreaking. If you aren’t going to promote them, who will? I loved your photos of people reading artb4breakfast. This is a new world of self publishing, self promoting and a lot needs to be tried. It’s evolving. Keep experimenting and ignore those who are offended-that’s their problem. They need to learn to share so more people can benefit from all this amazing art and knowledge. Anyone who’s done this knows how difficult it is, how vulnerable it makes you feel. It’s all good and part of the process. Carry on. And above all, thank you for all you do. You’ve inspired me to draw everyday, which I do, you’ve introduced me to so many sketchbook artists through Sketchbook Skool and I’ve benefited tremendously from that and it’s SO MUCH FUN. You are a pioneer and you are awesome. I’ll follow you and sketch along with you and cheer you on because I believe in what you are doing. Thank you again.

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  131. Danny,
    SBS has meant so much to so many of us. To me it has been a way to get back to enjoying simplicity. Sometimes I post, sometimes I don’t; sometimes I don’t even get an assignment done or go off on my own path because something an instructor said led me down a rabbit trail of my own creating. No matter where you decide to go with this, you will indeed inspire something in someone. I would love to encourage you in your own journey here. Sometimes taking the very medicine we dispense is difficult. What a great thing that you have been able to hold a mirror up to your life and see not only what you want to change but have set a path forward.

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  132. Thank you not only for your honestly but for your willingness to change direction and re-focus. That’s brave of you. Congratulations to both you and Koojse. I’ve taken two of the SBS klasses and they are so enjoyable. I can’t say enough about how well produced they are and how they’ve helped me as an artist. I’ll be thrilled just as much to take a klass with the two of you. Keep up the good, and thoughtful, work.

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  133. I appreciate your candor. I enrolled I the first klaus What I enjoy is watching some English guy doing a watercolor with no music and mumbling about how the painting in progressing 😎😎😎😥 Thanks Danny A be guzunt Eddie

    Be well … Eddie

    >

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  134. Well it’s about d@mn time.

    I had become so annoyed with the amount of shill on your blog that I sold one of your books to the used book store in a fit of pique. Of course, now I have to go buy it back again…cut off your nose, spite your face.

    Don’t get me wrong, I felt that it was entirely right and proper for you to promote Sketchbook Skool. I just didn’t want it cluttering up your blog. Send me to a website, bombard me with promotional emails. Just don’t lose your voice.

    Which you did, but now your voice back.

    I couldn’t afford Sketchbook Skool when you first offered it, and then, as I watched the videos and read the promotions for subsequent sessions, I didn’t want to sign up because it seemed to have lost its joy.

    I’m wondering if you didn’t fall prey to the great trap of retirement, where you go way out on the diving board to try something new, but then retreat to what you know how to do so, so well. I’ve seen it happen to my friends — suddenly they’re all very busy in retirement with something that looks an awful lot like their old jobs to me. I’ll be retiring soon (systems analyst) and I’m already turning down requests to manage email lists.

    Which I could do with my eyes closed. But do I want to?

    If you haven’t already discovered her, may I suggest that you head on over to Dispatch From LA, the blog of Mary Ann Moss, for a cure. She’s a great example of someone who has offered online courses internationally for years with great joy — some of her class videos actually make me laugh out loud.

    Take Mary Ann’s Sketchbookery class and discover what it”s like to be a student again. You won’t regret it! She creates with great enthusiasm and wild abandon.

    She’s a lot like you.

    So Danny — welcome back! It will be great to be checking your blog daily once again. And you can bet I’ll be looking to sign up for Sketchbook Skool once you and Koosje get your mojo workin’ again.

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    1. There is always the question about what you really want. Nobody tells you not to earm nomney if you can. And there will be many people to pay for whatever marketing promotes. That’s ok, it is one way in this society and it is the most common. YOu can even earn money with art and it would be great if it would be possible that art still remains what it was even if there is some money to be earned. But there will be a point where you have to ask yourself: What’s it what I really want. I have to survive and that for I need money. But what’s the price for earning this money. What price am I really willing to pay.

      I think it is really ok to go for the money – if it is what you want. There aren’t so many chances and nobody should blame anybody for this way. But: If you don’t feel comfortable, you have to change samoething. You will have to handle different people by choosing one way or the other. I am – as you are – happy to have Danny back… as it seems.

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  135. I’m glad I took the chance to check out your blog again. I loved reading this article. It sounds like you are navigating your way back to finding balance. I, too, struggle with being in a corporate environment. I was excited when Sketchbook Skool started, but I began to feel I was in another rat race there, too, so I discontinued. I’m glad to hear you will be doing something different with it. You really have a huge heart by taking so many risks and putting yourself out there so much to help others in this world. Thanks for all you do.

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    1. I know just what you are saying Marcia and I agree with you. You put it much more clearly than I ever could but I do so agree – Danny (and Koosje and Morgan) have enormous, kind, generous hearts and all of us love you and are glad that you are returning to your ‘roots’ – teaching, inspiring and encouraging. You are invaluable to all of us.

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  136. I have deep gratitude for the honesty, and the tidbit that others were also unhappy about the latest class. It made any resentment or dissatisfaction I was feeling evaporate. thanks you Danny!

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  137. This is the first time I’ve looked at your blog in awhile. I got tired of the promotional stuff. I want to see the real Danny who got me interested in just journaling for fun. I have followed you for years. I have all your books except the last one. I gave up on you for awhile. To me you were just a regular guy who liked to share with people cause you had a desire to help others. It wasn’t about financial gain. I am glad for this post and that you are seeing more clearly now. I will be checking your blog again often. Thanks for sharing this.

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  138. Danny, you are one of my heroes! SBS has changed my life in many good ways and connected me with some incredibly talented people, whom I cherish. It took great courage to start the ‘Art for All’ movement, and then follow through with the tedious aspects of a business grown too successful. Now that you can see clearly how you got out of balance, you will be able to restore it. I loved raw honesty of this post. Write whatever you like…whenever you like. Be a flake, if that is what it takes to restore equilibrium. You don’t owe us, or SBS, anything. You and Koosje have given us an incredible gift of community. The rest is up to us. Continue to pursue your creative dreams, in whatever way speaks to you. We’re so very grateful to you for having given us so much of your time and energy over the past year. Can’t wait to read the new monkey book! Mine have been chattering quite a bit lately….

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  139. I really enjoyed reading that, Danny and I’m thankful for your honesty, because it makes me feel like I can be honest, too – no matter what!
    Keep it up – if you dare to be so honest to yourself and others you will always find your way.
    I wish you all the best!!

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  140. You don’t want to be that person with the unimpeachable face and writing this post is a step in that direction. It’s nice to know that we all have challenges and it somehow makes us stronger in attacking ours when we know we are not the only ones.

    You are being true to yourself with these changes, readjusting to what you really wanted your life to be like before it got all ‘businessy’ again. That’s my fear of making my art my business. Thank you for posting this.

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  141. Hi Danny, Ive just found you today and Im really sad you have been so unhappy BUT so very grateful you did what you did because thats probably why I found you just when I needed to. So on behalf of all of us who have found you today and in the future, THANK YOU, and I hope you find the freedom and balance you need to continue being you.

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  142. One of the best examples of autobiographical writing I’ve seen. Like arriving late to the amusement park and you realise its been closed for maintenance for a while, so you haven’t missed any of the day’s rides: I’m very glad i’ve belatedly found this blog.

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  143. Hi Danny, I found your book “Everyday matters” some weeks ago in a bookshop in the Netherlands, and wow, I am happy to discover so much more of you now, including this post. I think you had the courage to pull the emergency break when it didn’t feel right anymore. Many greetings and thank you for sharing your feelings with us.

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  144. WOW – as a follower of many years I now realize I love you, in part, for your honesty along with your talent, humor and cute mug.

    My husband and I own and run a small international business and I can COMPLEYELY understand the chains behind the CEO glamour (HAH). Your honest, sole searching ‘diatribe’ made me laugh (Artisanal Okra??) and frown, but again your heart shows through and I love you even more (Watch out Jenny ?) XOXOXO
    Sandy R

    Like

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