Over the years, I have narrowed my bag of tricks to a select few: watercolors, ink, a dip pen to write with. Sure, I vary it a bit with some gouache and an occasional brush pen — but my arsenal is limited and comfortable as old, very scuffed shoes.

Last week, when I hung out with my pal Penny Dullaghan in Indianapolis, I realized the price I pay with this lack of imagination. She opened drawers and pulled out screen prints, monoprints, pages of pattern blocks, , then drawings she had collaborated on with her 7-year-old daughter. I watched her create stencils to define shapes and then pound color through them with ink pads. I marveled as she created carbon paper with oil paint and scribed spasmodic, fractured lines with a special transfer techniques. She whittled a stamp out of soft linoleum and created graceful repeating patterns. She layered ink, watercolor, gouache and colored pencil over the textures she’d made and turned simple drawings and designs into rich, organic textures that made her images come alive.

I left town with my head full of ideas and a long list of things I wanted to try. Then I caught up with my pal Tommy Kane and he showed me new techniques he’s doing by layering drawings on top of each other, by drawing on marbleized paper, and by painting and drawing on ceramics.

My friends fired me up to get radical, to experiment in a way I haven’t in ages, to learn new techniques, and to build myself a proper studio once again so I can spread out and play.

How set are you in your ways?



15 thoughts on “Inspirianapolis.”

  1. I had been nothing but pen and ink with watercolor, only occasionally trying other media. My drawings finally began to look the way I wanted them to, but I discovered that I was getting bored with that look, so i began trying new techniques, though with pretty much the same media, only substituting fiber-point pens for my usual fountain or dip pen, and alcohol markers for the watercolor, and doing a lot of work on toned paper. It’s quite a boost to one’s creativity to change up once in a while.


  2. Dearest Gregory,
    I’m fairly new to your blog. I find them very inspiring. So, i was tickled to read your post this morning. I’ve been a painter for some years and felt that i was falling into a slump. A few months ago, i found a sketch group in Austin, Texas. Now i’m sketching and loving it. Sketching has really influenced my work in several ways. I’m looking at things differently. Sketching has freed me up and changed my perspective on my approach. Thanks for being there. Thanks for your constant and inspiring support. I’m excited for you in your new adventures. Isn’t it great to feel those bubbles of thrill percolating with the desire to try something new!
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with next………


  3. But this is what you’re encouraging students to do all the time is Sketchbook Skool so really you and Koosje are the King and Queen of changing it up! I’m constantly trying different techniques because I’ve been exposed to so many in Skool and yes, there are some that are favourites, but I get bored of them after a few weeks and find myself trying something new pretty soon. So don’t be too hard on yourself!
    And I love that spread in your sketchbook. And I’m positively itching for the new kourse to begin….


  4. Set in my ways? Set being the operative word. I “set” and peruse my laptop every morning with two cups of coffee before I get moving. I’m set in this just as I always add cream not sugar to the cup. Your blog is my morning routine. You and a few more. But I do play the rest of the day with a multitude of “stuff” working in one medium or with several for many days, then switching to something completely different. That and my grandkids keep me young and trying new ideas. The older I get the “try” muscle gets harder to move.


  5. Over the top Danny….so many options. I find reassurance in your simplicity …a few of these exciting multiple media explorations are great from time to time and definitely push our creative buttons. But in all of it the most significant fact is to keep those eyes open and KEEP DRAWING!!!!! Excessive media exploration often muddies the waters….and adds endless expense with marginal success. Thanks for your amazing blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just yesterday I saw the Asian Art Museum and the influence the Japanese had on the impressionists and vice versa. I love this kind of exchange of ideas and I’m dying to see what you saw over the weekend. I am a wannabe drawer/artist slowly following your book and blog. Thanks for doing this. I’m so glad you’re there when I need inspiration.


  7. I think sometimes, as artists and creative individuals, minimizing the materials can actually help to propel work forward. Giving a smaller “container” to the creative voice can help the voice speak louder. Then, sure by all means open up to PLAY and try of all sorts of new and fabulous materials and techniques. However, at times, and for many artists, too many materials creates a block and halt in work or conversely, work that seems to be “all over the place.” Knowing that materials can drive the creative inspiration comes from years of practice and experience with making. By all means, be inspired by others and the varied materials available, but keep true to your creative impulse. Consider HOW the new material will speak your vision.

    For me, for the past year, I have only used Uniball pen and watercolor colored pencils. 2016 will be new and fresh having found I continue to have a voice even when I use minimal materials.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, but there is only so much THINGS you can buy for art/insert any hobby here. I quite like limiting myself to watercolours and a pen, branching out into a brush or fountain pen.

    There is a limit to how much I can spend too!


  9. I work in oils, mixed media, art assemblage, watercolors, acrylics, etc. I think the exploration of each impacts the other. I may spend weeks with a portrait in oils and balance it with little bursts of drawing cartoons in ink and watercolor. I’m not too set in my ways about creating…love to mix it up and experiment with different materials. I do have my base materials that I will never stop using…watercolors, ink and colored pencils. Although I do stay set in my ways about routine. I try very hard to show up every morning to do my creative work and writing at the same time each day because I have a day job too. Cheerios-Darlene


  10. Every Monday morning from 10 to Noon I sketch with 10 or 12 people. We invite a model who sits in a chair in a living room and we draw, some with pencil on paper, some on their ipad (that’s me). All creative individuals who begin each week the same and then we go to our studios, or our kitchen studios, and we make art. We are a happy bunch. Some of us really began drawing when Sketchbook Skool began. It motivated us. Some of us have branched out to mixed media, and yes, you need a lot of supplies. Seems like every day someone has a great idea, makes a you tube video, and we’re off and running. So, I say, mix it up a bit. A little of this, a little of that. Try new things. It’s really great to line those sketchbooks up on a shelf.


  11. I experiment but within a limited range. Because I paint primarily in oil these days, I explore the surfaces that I paint on. I make my own panels with a different textures of canvas or linen; I may try painting on birch ply or mdf or hardboard which I’ve sealed with different applications of gesso or oil ground. And then I try using different brushes or palette knife techniques with them. So, although my scope of materials is not as large as when I used many media, I do find ways to get variety in my landscapes and other plein air subjects by tweaking the materials a bit. About 10 years ago I did a lot of mixing it up with watercolor, acrylic, pastel, soft block carving – at one time I had a 100 year old Rosback perforator in my living room to perforate artistamps – but I’ve found that focusing has brought me a lot of satisfaction and opportunities for growth.


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