Monday, 15 October 2018

Looking back to the beginning of Sketchbook Skool

Yesterday I listened to the podcast Art for All hosted by Danny Gregory. The episode looked back to the start of Sketchbook Skool in April 2014. I had followed Danny’s blog since I moved to Australia at the end of 2010 (Wow that was eight years ago!) so I heard the first announcements of this new online course. 

When he talked about starting this online course aimed at encouraging people to get and sketch more I realised this was what I needed. I had always sketched, but mostly only when I was away on holiday when I had time on my hands, before but now I wanted to make drawing a daily routine. 


I loved that first course as did many others. We didn’t care that it was a little rough and ready.(Truth be told I don’t think many of us knew that it could have been more polished)  The enthusiastic and supportive community that quickly grew was, I think, the main reason for its success. Membership of the Facebook Group today has grown to a whopping 17,655 people from maybe 1,500 at the start.

I wrote a letter to Danny - The six weeks that changed my world about my experiences doing Beginning. All that I said there still applies today. 
You can find this in a separate Page here.
I did my homework religiously. Here's mine for Tommy Kane - first my living room and then I went to my local cafe to record EVERY detail!

My local Cafe...

I created an album on Flickr for these sketches for the first Semester and another for the second, Seeing.

I like many others painted Tommy Kane and many other tutors. Click this link to see them.

I went on to complete Seeing and Storytelling, as well as Bootcamp for those who had completed the first three courses. Some time later Urban Sketching came along with a mixture of old and new material.

Then I took a break. 

I was interested to hear  on the podcast that about the time that I took a break, Danny and Koosje were pondering the future of Sketchbook Skool. 

The courses that followed didn’t ‘speak’ to me, I didn't really want to make cards or maps or play with lettering. 

Painting and Teaching

Painting in oils was my main focus and I was exhibiting in local exhibitions. By this time too, my Studio where I teach art to small classes was quite well established. Since much of my time is focused on teaching I’m always looking for ways to enhance and grow my teaching skills. I try to read widely; look at a lot of art; listen to podcasts and take an online course here and there.

Watercolor Rules

I had just finished writing a book called Colour - A Practical Approach published by Blurb, when I saw the promos for Watercolour Rules. (You can read about my book here.)

Since there was a short holiday coming up I could devote time to a course . When I saw that Ian Sidaway was a tutor I decided to enrol. I’ve followed and admired his work for some time. His demonstrations did not disappoint. 

While these techniques were not new to me, as a teacher I learned a lot. He has a clear approach to explaining concepts and  demonstrating watercolour. August Wren and Inma Serrano have different styles and techniques which are also giving me fresh ideas and inspiration. I’m so pleased that I signed up because there's always something new to learn.

Now they are getting ready to host the first Sketchkon in November! 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Colour - A Practical Approach Part 2

Such exciting times - the hard covered copies of my book Colour - A Practical Approach arrived today! It’s so rewarding to see the results of months of writing and re-writing, painting illustrations, selecting photographs of paintings and then editing and re-editing. Click on the link to see a preview. The book is available in both hard and soft cover and an affordable EBook. 

The book is a no-fuss practical handbook to be a companion to painting in the Studio. The colour wheel is explained and illustrated along with notes on complementary colours. I have a few colour “rules” to keep you on the right track and there are also chapters with basic tips for mixing paint.  There are suggestions for the arrangement of paint on the palette to help develop a more organised approach.

There are twenty colour exercises to work through. These cover many aspects of colour mixing. I suggest doing these in a dedicated colour sketchbook so you will have a comprehensive personal reference book at the end.

Many artists work from photographs so there is also a chapter on how to make the most of this resource. Step by step photos of my own paintings will give you some insight to my process of working form photos.

Finally, a book like this would be lacking without some explanation of the terminology of art. A comprehensive glossary sheds light on some of these mystifying terms. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Colour - A Practical Approach - Part 1

My new book Colour - A Practical Approach  has been published. When you click on the link you will be able to see a preview. It’s the culmination of a year’s work. The idea originated from a request from one of my Studio classes for more intensive colour studies, particularly on mixing colour. 


I began by making notes; collating information that had been used during colour workshops held over the last few years. These notes took shape and became quite extensive. When I realised that text with no illustrations would not be very effective, it was a logical decision to write a book instead.

Previously, I had taken an online course, By Design, with the artist and teacher, Roz Stendhal. The course covered the fundamentals of page layout and design for working with both handmade and digital pages so I was ready to try writing my book.

At the time I had a brief foray into working with Adobe’s InDesign. It soon proved to be a stretch to learn the programme since I wasn’t working with it regularly enough. Then I discovered that Blurb, a self-publishing company with a very good reputation, offer Bookwright software obtainable as a free download. It was the solution to my problems. The software is easy to use, offers hints and tips like - the resolution of this image is too low - reduce the size or replace. There are numerous set formats to use. alternatively one can self-design each page. 

There are a number of different kinds of books - Photo books, Trade Books and Magazines, each with a different focus and  price point. After watching a webinar on the Trade Book it was the best option for me. It would provide the best format, 8” x 10” and could be printed at an affordable cost. In addition, and Ebook could be published using the same format text and illustrations and easy and good value option for anyone anywhere in the world. 

I was excited to see how the book would look, to check the paper quality and the colour accuracy of the photographs so I ordered a single copy. Once I had the book in my hands, I realised that there needed to be more - more detailed information, more chapters, and more colour exercises. There were also a few layout issues with the Ebook which needed to be corrected. 

So it was back to the writing desk. 

Fast forward a year after the first draft, the new, updated extend, and largely re-written book has been published. 
Colour - A Practical Approach is available from Blurb in the following options - Soft cover, Hard cover and Ebook. 

More details to come in Part 2.