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Phyllis Fights Perfectionism and Doesn’t Even Break a Sweat

Above: A sketch of Phyl while she colors—she likes to hold the book in her lap, not on her desk. Pen and watercolor in the Moleskine Sketchbook I was recently testing. The sketch is from May, but today's post is about something that happened Wednesday while she was sketching… I sat opposite Phyl. She held […]

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Project Friday: Working With Project Boundaries To Stretch Creatively

Left: A page from my 2015 fake journal. I had hoped that every page would be filled with a gouache painting like this one. But that wasn't quite what happened. Read today's post to see what did happen, and why that was the best possible outcome. (Gouache on Stonehenge gray.)   Sometimes having too many […]

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The Importance of Regular Self Evaluations in Our Creative Lives

Above: One of my goals this year has been to draw as many interesting noses, ears, and beards as I can. Even on days when I can't get out and draw people from life, I might stay up late and get some practice in, sketching from TV or from old photographs I've collected. (Sketch in […]

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Why Warm Up When Drawing?

Pretty much every time I give a talk and show my work, or teach a class and explain my process, or even just share work with other sketchers I am asked: WHY WARM UP WHEN DRAWING? There are a lot of roots to this question, roots as individual as the person asking. One root, judging […]

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Being Happy with the Little Bits—or Keep on Pushing to See Where It Goes: Part One

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Left: Quick portrait sketch, from a 19th Century photograph. Faber Castel Pitt Artists Brush Pen and some light washes of Lukas gouache. The journal is about 8 inches square and I turned it on its side to work vertically. The journal is made with Folio paper, which is a printmaking paper, not a watercolor paper. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Last week I wanted to practice drawing people, something I don’t do often, frankly I’m more interested in birds. One evening I was up late and I burned through some quick portraits that I am going to write about as a four-part series this week. (Four parts because I wanted to break it down in to smaller chunks for people who stop by every day! Thank you!)

I’ve written before about perfectionism and how that stops people from being productive. I’ve encouraged journal keepers all my life to just get things down on paper and then consider them and move on. We learn things through the practice of keeping a visual journal. One of the most valuable lessons we learn is how the materials we choose to work with actually work. You learn this in a less pressured environment than if you were making a final painting. And we also learn how to push things and how far to push things.

The “think method” advocated by the "Music Man" doesn’t work well when mastering sketching and painting. You actually need to put pen to paper, and brush to paper.

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