Author sits down to write blogpost — you won’t believe what happens next!

I’m not sure that I have anything to say today — but I do miss my blog. The poor thing has fallen victim to various impulses within me that claim to know best.

One said, “Hey, I read an article online that says that people don’t read any more, so you should just post videos. Oh, and another article said blogs are dead and people just look at Facebook posts, so stop bothering to write here.”

Another impulse is to focus my time and energy on my job, i.e. Sketchbook Skool. (Yes, I refer to it as a job. The world’s best job, but a job nonetheless.) That means I figure I should devote my creative energy to making kourses and telling people about them, rather than venting here.

It’s a funny thing, being your own boss. There are definite perks, like taking off early to go to yoga or hiring a special effects team to make something you dreamed up, but there’s also the issue of having a boss who sits in a corner office in your skull and can call you into review your performance on a daily basis. My boss loves to tell me I could always be doing more. And this blog strikes him as a pointless cul-de-sac. (As you can tell, my week’s vacation helped revitalize my monkey. He’s tan, well-rested, and eager to get back to work.)

Despite all this wound licking, I have been thinking of a lot of ideas in the last few months, ideas that don’t necessarily have anything to do with teaching. A few weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea for a new book and wrote it down, in the dark, with a Sharpie, on a pile of paper on my dining room table. It’s sat in that pile ever since, unread.

I think it could be something interesting or utter crap, but I’m not ready to either take it on or be disappointed by it yet — so it just sits there, in a neat pile, waiting for me.

Another project: drawing dogs.  I started drawing on an iPad Pro this summer and flailed around for a while looking for a direction to my efforts. It was a pretty interesting exploration and I have been meaning to write a long post about it sometime (pending resolution of the issues in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 above) but suffice it to say it kick started my drawing practice and toppled a number of hardened prejudices. The latest stage in this exploration has been to try to make a drawing of a dog every single day, always a different dog in  a different style.  Today I posted number 56.

This process has been energizing but has also resurfaced the usual issues.

One — monkey struggles. Three days ago I convinced myself I had milked the idea dry and could not make a drawing I could abide.   After giving up completely and bathing in failure, I drew three new dogs I really liked.

Two — the quest for approval, a monkey variation. Posting my dogs on social media has led inevitably to being overly aware of likes, comments, and all the attendant distractions. People like the ones that look like photos best and the monkey tells me these are the most pedestrian and not creative at all. Sigh.

I do apologize if this first post in ages feels a little lachrymose. I need to shake off the cobwebs and think of stuff I actually want to write about. But writing here this morning has scraped some of the rust off my hull and I look forward to setting forth on a new adventure.

Hopefully no one is reading this because you are all too busy watching baby hippo videos.

Sketchbook Club: Illustrated Maps

This week I discussed some amazing books on illustrated map making:
You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katharine Harmon
The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katharine Harmon
Plotted: A Literary Atlas by Andrew DeGraff

and don’t forget to join the great new Sketchbook Skool kourse, Let’s Make a Map!

Study Hall: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I love this week’s klass in Exploring with one of my idols, Felix Scheinberger. I made a bit of a mess with my homework but then was inspired by an old spaghetti Western. I hope you had fun with your assignment.

My new movie: The Art of A Fan

A few years ago, I had great fun making a series of Sketchbook Films with my old pal and genius, Tommy Kane. After bugging him for months, I finally got Tom to join me in making a brand-new film about Marcy Singer.

I first met Marcy when I taught a class at the Open Center in New York and apparently I gave her an idea that led to an enormous project. I said, “why not draw while you watch TV? Just use the DVR to freeze the frame and sketch what’s on the screen.”

An ardent hockey fan, she decided to draw every single game the NY Rangers play and has now filled many sketchbook with wonderful drawings and watercolors. It’s a great story about how drawing changes how you see things and deepens your experience and your passion.

On not drawing

It happens. You ought to write something, draw something, not eat something, but ya just aren’t feeling it. Your New Year resolutions have petered out — less than two weeks into January.  Are you a bad person? Worthless? Is the monkey 100% right?

‘Course not. Ronnie Lawlor (who is drawing monster, by the by) and I talk about why not.

(Happy Friday 13th! It’s your luck day.)