There Are No Rules

06/03/16

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Pictured above is a Doodling Manifesto that I wrote a few years ago. At the time, I was beginning to teach a Basic Line Drawing class through Creativebug — mostly for people who don’t self-identify as artists — beginners, really. My goal in designing that class was to simplify the practice of drawing into some very basic principles and to give people permission to draw without worrying about making the thing they are drawing look “realistic” — which, for most people, is the most intimidating part of drawing. I also wanted people to understand that drawing isn’t just about drawing actual “things” — that it is just as much fun to draw shapes and weird patterns — and that that act (which we commonly call “doodling”) — is just as much a valid form of art-making than anything else, especially if you are a beginner.

The class became wildly successful and still today, four years later, it’s a very popular class on Creativebug. It may sound obvious to people who identify as artists that creative expression doesn’t have to be complex or layered or perfect, but for beginners, the notion that they can pick up a pen and draw lines and circles to create basic shapes (and eventually patterns and other designs) — and then call it “art” was mind-blowing.

Technically, my Basic Line Drawing Class is not designed to teach you “how to draw” — at least, not in the traditional sense. In the class, I teach a form of drawing that embraces wonkiness and imperfection, simple lines and use of negative space. I went on later to record a 31 Day Drawing Challenge, which you can also watch on Creativebug, in which I guide you through drawing 31 different everyday objects and things in nature in several different, very simple ways. The goal is to get comfortable drawing things, and embracing all of of the imperfections, which in my opinion add charm and interest.

Mostly, I want people to understand that you are in charge of what you create. There are no rules for the right or wrong way to draw something (despite what your elementary school art teacher may have told you). I have made a living (as have many other artists) in drawing everyday things & scenes in unconventional, stylized ways. I also draw very realistically when it’s called for in my work. I love approaching drawing in different ways. You can see my love for diverse approaches reflected in my portfolio.

Curious about the class? Take a look at the trailer below and ignore the fact that it says “COMING THIS MARCH” — this video is several years old and the class is available for viewing now! And yes, my hair has grown a lot since then!

You can take the class (or my 31 Day Drawing Challenge or subscribe to Creativebug for free for a month) here. This class is also great (and super appropriate) for kids!

Have a great weekend, friends!

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Sketchbook Roundup & Sketchbook Classes!

05/20/16

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{A recent spread from my MESSY SKETCHBOOK, which is basically an old book that I use as my place to get loose and messy}

Recently I was traveling for a book tour for my latest book, The Joy of Swimming. At my Creative Mornings Talk in Minneapolis, one woman asked me during the Q&A: “How do you make time for personal work?” I paused for what seemed like a long time. I was about to say, “I don’t!” And then I remembered that I spend at least a few hours each week (sometimes several) drawing and painting in my various sketchbooks. Lately, while my day-to-day illustration and writing career has kept me busy during workdays with little time for personal work, I manage to sneak it in at night while I’m watching TV or on the weekends out at my painting table — in my sketchbooks! I’ve been chronicling my sketchbook spreads on Instagram and here on my blog for many moons. Here are some of the most recent.

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I find drawing and painting in my sketchbooks enormously relaxing. For one, what I make here is not for sale or for a client or for any one but me. Here, I get to play with shapes and colors, markings and materials. Sometimes the result is beautiful. Sometimes it’s a hot mess. But it’s mostly always really relaxing and fun for me. In fact, I can’t wait to dig into my sketchbooks this weekend.

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Part of how I approach my sketchbooks is with the idea of using the space to create an all-over design or pattern. This approach is extremely meditative! If this sounds like fun to you but you aren’t sure how you’d get started, I teach two classes over on Creativebug where I teach the process of starting this kind of sketchbook practice. The first is called Sketchbook Explorations. The second is called More Sketchbook Explorations. There is no requirement to take the first before the second! If you are interested in getting some drawing practice, I also teach Basic Line Drawing and offer a 31 Day Drawing Challenge. You can purchase a subscription to Creativebug for less than $5 USD a month and view all of my classes (and many more).

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As you can see, there are so many ways to approach a sketchbook. And when you are finished, you have a book filled with your markings.

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Wondering about materials? I wrote a post with links here.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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Seattle Book Event May 24!

05/17/16

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Seattle, I’m coming your way on Tuesday, May 24 for an event at University Books. I’ll be sitting down with local Seattle journalist & personality Tracey Conway for a conversation about swimming and the creative process, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing for my latest book The Joy of Swimming. The event starts at 7 pm. Get there early — seats are limited!

More info here!

This is the FINAL stop on my book tour & I’d love to see you there!

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Portland Book Signing May 17!

05/12/16

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Hello to my hometown of PORTLAND! Join me this coming TUESDAY, May 17 at Broadway Books for a book signing for my latest book The Joy of Swimming (and any of my books they have in stock)! I’d love to see you there. Event goes from 7-8 pm. Broadway Books is located at 1714 NE Broadway. Come say hello! Kids welcome! Hugs! High fives!

Optional RSVP here. Event is free and open to the public. You can check out all of my book tour events here.

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Minneapolis Creative Mornings Talk!

05/03/16

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Friends, I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be in Minneapolis on Friday, May 13 giving at Creative Mornings Talk (theme: REALITY!) at the Minneapolis Institute of Art at 8:30 am, followed by a signing for my latest book, The Joy of Swimming. You can learn more about the event here, including how to reserve a ticket.

Hope to see you there!!

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