How to handle perspective.

I was working at my desk when the news flashed on the screen. Notre Dame was burning. The videos and pictures were heart-stopping and across the world we were joined by a sense of helplessness as a thousand years of history and culture exploded in flames. I had visions of a charred wreck left to hulk on the Seine, a post-modern monument to human fragility surrounded by rioting yellow vests. The toppling spire sparked a deep sense of dread in me, that our civilization itself was toppling, that our history was being erased, that humanity was all too vulnerable, that I too would soon be forgotten dust.

Twenty-four hours later, the fire was out, the damage assessed. It was extensive but appears confined to the roof. I read with relief that the cathedral had been heavily damaged and rebuilt several other times in its long history, and by day’s end almost a billion dollars had been raised to start the restoration. Within a day, we had gone from annihilation to resiliency to the Mueller report. Next.

Continue reading “How to handle perspective.”

My new kourse

I only started drawing in my late thirties. I was super-motivated but it was a struggle to learn. I read books, I copied the masters, I looked into classes, but ultimately the only thing that worked — was work.  I kept drawing and drawing and, slowly, I figured it out.

In retrospect, it was worth all the effort. Drawing changed my life.  But I suspected all along that there’s probably an easier way. And every time I’d hear someone say, “I can’t draw, not even a stick figure,” I’d vow to myself that I’d figure out some way to make the process of acquiring this skill (and that’s all it is, like juggling or shoelace tying or bike riding or driving — a skill) easier and more fun.

I tried a few times. I wrote about it in The Creative License and again in Art Before Breakfast, I even made a series of crude how-to YouTube videos.

But then, this summer, I sat down and really worked it out. I went back and studied my own process over the years, figure out what had worked and what didn’t, I did further research, I consulted experts, and then I made two dozen clear, fun video lessons that explain how drawing works and how to do it, step-by-step.

I set my standards high. I avoided jargon, I avoided tedium, I added jokes, and corralled my friends, family and even my dogs into helping.  And I decided that the kourse should be something you could do at your own pace, but with the encouragement and support of other people who are going through the same process of discovery and transformation.

And then, to make sure that nothing gets in the way of people watching and using these lessons, Koosje and I decided to move this kourse (and ultimately all of Sketchbook Skool) to a fresh new platform that is intuitive and fresh and inviting.

Oh, and we’d price it to be even more affordable that our other kourses — so the monkey would have one less reason to prevent people from signing up.

Finally, this week, after five months of work, the kourse is ready. I hope it is the first step in launching a lot of extraordinary creative lives. Maybe yours.

You can watch the video trailer below.

If you’d like to try it, sign up here. 

Heads up: Even if you have an SBS account already, you’ll need to get a new user name/password to enroll on our spanking new platform. It’s worth it.

See you in klass!

PS: Someone asked how this kourse differs from “Beginning” at Sketchbook Skool.

My answer: “It’s totally new. Totally different. Beginning has 6 teachers and is a great place for people to start keeping an illustrated journal. How To Draw Without Talent is about the basics of drawing. Beginning is a recipe book, HTDWT teaches you how to boil water and use a knife.”

Workbooking – make some money

I love making money. And it’s easier than it seems. Just crumple up a bill or spread it out — and then open your workbook and dive deep into the details with your pen.

The art of change

The way I approach this little bit of counterfeiting is the same way I draw anything complex.  I’ll take you through the steps in this video.

It’s a lovely subject for meditation. Spend a half hour doing this and you’ll emerge much richer. And so will your workbook.


Workbooking – a week of drawing lessons

As you know, I am rather lazy and always eager to get out of work. So don’t be deceived by the plethora of seemingly-fresh videos below.

Last year, when the original Art Before Breakfast came out, I made a bunch of quick videos to explain the principles behind the week of drawing lessons. As I have a similar week of instruction in the workbook, I am resharing those videos for you to follow here. Lazy, but effective.

Despite their vintage, the lessons still work.

Spend a week watching the videos and doing the exercises in the workbook, and, by the weekend, you’ll be ready for your first one-person show at the museum of your choice.

BTW, I filmed these in the winter and I think I was sick with something during a couple of them, so you’ll notice turtlenecks, sweater vest, pale skin and a red nose. Don’t be alarmed. I’m better now.

Workbooking: a travel disaster

I try. But when a stressful day with too little sleep has me on the ropes, my best intentions go out the window.  Here’s an example. My pledge to share an exercise from the Workbook as often as possible — draw, make a video about it, and then blog about it — collided with my recent travel itinerary and the results are recorded on YouTube.

Warning: this video is a little crabby, a tad unreasonable, and the drawing’s not something a professional teacher would share with his class, but the actual valuable lesson in it is about life, the challenges of trying to better oneself, and when to board a plane. Enjoy. Then get back to work.

Workbooking #3: The power of more

Let’s get down to some actual drawing. This video is a trick for turning lousy drawings into a cool piece of art. It’s all about the power of more, how a page of even mediocre drawings gains power and beauty as you add more drawings. And this approach is so fast and simple, taking just a minute each — a minute you can fit in, no matter how busy your day.  Just make sure you keep that workbook handy for when the moment strikes.

Work with me, People!

I am slowly working my way through the exercises in my new book, Art Before Breakfast – the workbook. I keep it on my kitchen counter and start each day by filling in a few pages. It’s a nice, gentle creative experience that’s reviving my drawing habit and I thought I’d record the experience as I go along — and share it with you.

This isn’t meant to be a commercial, just a sort of visual process journal shot and edited on my phone. If you are working through the book too and would like to share any thoughts or discoveries, I’d love to hear about ’em.

Why the World Needs Stretching

Sometimes, I worry that I don’t adequately convey my enthusiasm for the things I truly love. People tell me I am too soft-spoken, too grumpy, too English… Well, I’d like to try to remedy that by telling you about a project I worked hard on and which I think is deserving of your time too.

Field trip: Sketching in Barcelona

Ah, Barcelona! I drool to think of sketching there, on a rooftop, with an amigo or two,  sipping a cerveza. An idle fantasy, you say, for a snow-bound New Yorker —  unless a couple of pals make you a little video of them doing just that so you can share the moment.

My buddies Lapin and Miguel by the way, also had us over for a delightful virtual artists’ dinner party.

They know how to live, these Barcelonans. Here’s a link so you too can hang out with them again in just a few days —when they teach in Stretching at Sketchbook Skool Click for more details.