It’s tempting to think that if we want to make art, we should, of course, begin by shopping. Full of zest, vim and vigor, we resolve to really get in the creative mode and, tail wagging, we prance off to the art supply store.
We browse through walls of pens, shelves of sketchbooks, and bins of brushes. We consider locked racks of spray paint, spools of armature wire, lino knives and airbrush frisket. We stare blankly at tubes of yellow watercolor that arbitrarily cost a buck or a Benjamin. And finally we stagger home, our credit cards limp with exhaustion, clutching bags of random gear, unsure of what to do with most of it.
I like a decent party, but I’m no social animal. The idea of sashaying into a room full of strangers gags me with anxiety, but once the initial ice is broken, I generally have a good time, meet a few new people, have some interesting conversations, and manage to avoid eating or drinking to excess. I generally like to arrive once things are likely to have warmed up a bit and leave before they get ugly.
The last party I attended was on Saturday afternoon. It was in an empty high school cafeteria with 150 adults, 147 of who I’d never met before. It lacked many of the trappings one has come to expect of a good party. There was an empty coffee urn, a Ziplock bag of rather dry homemade cookies, no toilet paper in the bathroom, and no music. In fact, we were instructed at the outset to avoid speaking at all, unless absolutely necessary. We were also warned not to shush anybody who did make noise.
I love keeping an illustrated journal on a trip. And I’m on a big one right now, a three-week road trip down the west coast. I recorded this week’s episode while we’re on the road and I explain my process in detail, go into all the supercool new watercolor gizmos I bought to pack along, and describe what I’m seeing and how I’m turning it into pages on my journal.
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.
This week I did a little urban sketching, drawing a crusty old locksmith shop in the Village. I was inspired by one of my idols, Nina Johansson, who we managed to convince to teach at Sketchbook Skool. Here I am doing my homework for her klass, despite a never-ending stream of obstacles.
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.
This week, what I learned from Felix Scheinberger‘s klass on watercolor techniques. Actually, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I keep studying Felix’s work and learn more and more each time. As he says, watercolors are the fastest medium to paint with, but the longest one to learn.
PS I inadvertently posted this article twice. I have been sick for the past few days and am not my usual fastidious self.
I was enormously happy to convince Felix Scheinberger to join the fakulty of Sketchbook Skool. Felix is an amazing watercolorist and a great teacher and his book Urban Watercolor Sketching is one of my favorites. Felix’s lessons started this week in Expressing and I really enjoyed tackling his assignment: to paint my lunch.
People often ask me, “Oooh, you use watercolors! Isn’t that really hard?” Short answer: No, silly. Slightly longer (2:40) answer: watch this video from Felix Scheinberger.
He lays out all you need to know succinctly and clearly. And in German! And it ends with him putting a flame to his painting!
Felix, BTW, is one of the world’s greatest masters of watercoloring. And even though he gives you all the basics in this video, he has sooo much more to teach. It took me over a year to get him, but now he’s finally on the fakulty at Sketchbook Skool. Starting tomorrow!
Recently I was invited to participate in a lovely series called “The Original” Documented Life Project™”. Guest artists are asked to document their process in making a piece. I was emailed the following assignment:
“The theme for this month is ‘MAKING YOUR MARK (DOODLES & MARK MAKING). The art challenge for this week is ‘AS A FOCAL POINT’, and the prompt is ‘COMING INTO FOCUS”
I’m not always awfully good at following assignments so I just sort of did what I do. I hope they like it.