Friday, April 16, 2010

Article selected for "The Painter's Keys"

I was very pleased to discover today that my article was selected for inclusion in Robert Genn's April 16 online letter to artists on his "The Painter's Keys" website. This was a very nice honor, as Genn has thousands of readers around the world and only includes 10 letters in each post. To any of my readers who aspire to paint, I highly recommend The Painter's Keys.
Here's what I wrote:

"I teach a workshop, "The Illustrated Journal in Ink & Watercolor," that speaks directly to this issue. In it I show students how to make quick watercolor and ink sketches that record moments in their lives. The students think they're learning techniques for travel sketching -- and indeed they are -- but I know what's happening is much more than this; they're learning how to paint. The results are always so much better in these sketching classes than in my more formal painting classes. Why? Because the students are relaxed (after all, it's just a "sketch" not a "painting") and absorbed in filling page after page with small studies, done from direct observation. They're drawing and coloring intuitively, with joy. When they come up for air, they seem surprised they've been having so much fun and that their tiny paintings are so expressive and charming. Apparently that's myelin in action, accompanied by intense, deep learning. I can't say enough about the value of doing lots and lots of small paintings, and I keep trying to pass that on to students. Some years ago, International Artist published a great book, Work Small, Learn Big: Sketching with Pen & Watercolor -- now, sadly, out of print, but still available in librairies -- that makes this same point. And online groups like SketchCrawl ( and Urban Sketchers (, that encourage artists of all levels to get out and sketch, are creating an international community of like-minded folk. So, there's a lot of momentum, for this, Robert, and I'm glad to hear medical science is backing this up."

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