I just got my shipment of journals and my 2021 year planner from Lett's of London. As an avid journal writer, I want to have the best products to write in. I started using Lett's journals and planners last year and they're the best quality that I've found. I used to use Moleskine's but those are made in China now and they're quality is not as good. Lett's is proudly made in Great Britain and the quality is unmatched. Lett's is from 1796 and I love the history of their company.
I wish they would make sketchbooks also, maybe one day they will. Their journals are fountain pen friendly and the pages are numbered; I use a fountain pen to write and there is absolutely zero bleed through. There's also a blank index in the front so you can keep your journal entries organized. Go check them out if you're looking for journals, diaries, and all sorts of planners:
I'm so excited to announce that one of my classes at Pushing Colored Dirt begins tonight at 7PM. Our classes are online and are taught via Zoom. My class tonight is Watercolor for Beginners, but I'm also teaching Pet Portraits for Beginners which begins this Friday, July 31st and you can still sign up for it.
Also, you guys should sign up for our PCD newsletter. I'll be sending out news, information about classes, some cool art history facts, quotes and general advice about art making. You can sign up by visiting our PCD homepage and scrolling down to subscribe.
I know I haven't written on this personal blog in a while, but I did write a long blog post over at PCD that you should check out. I wrote it about inspiration, influences and idol worship. If you ever feel lost as an artist (or person in general) give it a read and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a wonderful week everyone, much love.
I've been having some great insights recently. I think it's been a result of being more withdrawn and quietly working on myself. I've also been reading a lot recently which has helped me a lot of realizations.
What I wanted to talk about mainly was an idea that I've always loved, which is the idea that there are overarching principles that can apply to all disciplines. In this case one of the main principles in creating a work of art is "value".
Most people think of value monetarily, but value in a work of art means the lightness and darkness of a color. So if you looked at a gray scale photo of the world, how dark or how light would the colors appear? That's what value is. It helps to imagine value as a scale from 0 - 10 such as seen here:
The power of value is that it makes it possible to quantify the world into a range. As artists, we only have a certain range to work within. In the case of drawing and painting, the scale is very specific. I think of it often like a piano that has a certain range of notes to play. Of course, within that range there is a seemingly limitless combination of notes.
So to go deeper, value is a principle that great works of representational art have in common. But what makes value good or bad? I'd say the most important part is to have accurate value. And that means that you can accurately transcribe the darkness or lightness of a tone from your eye to the paper or canvas. This is a super simple idea, but the application of it can be very difficult.
The reason it's difficult is because the world is mostly composed of midtones; midtones are found in the value ranges from 3 to about 7 on a value scale. Now a 3 and a 7 look entirely different, but a 3 compared to a 4 and then a 4 compared to a 5 and so on gets trickier. There's a bit of advice that can help from John Singer Sargent which he received from his teacher, Carolus Duran. He says that the secret of art is in the half tones and to search for the half tones. The idea is to find midtones and then find the darks and the lights, working outwards from the middle. A good painting is mostly midtones, with touches of dark and light on top.
A lot of my own time was spent pursuing techniques; this happened as a beginner before I was open to learning principles. One example of techniques is how materials affect your painting. So you can learn about how poppy seed oil dries slower than linseed oil, so poppy seed oil works well for alla prima painting in order to prolong the drying time.
Another way of thinking about this is that techniques are like tools in a toolbox. It's important to know what a hammer does and what a saw does and how to properly use them, but the principle is like what you're trying to build with those tools. Techniques and principles are often intertwined together and help each other.
Techniques are important, especially for a beginner, but it's important to not get hung up on them and to allow them to facilitate your true creation. This mindset also lets you have the freedom to create your own techniques and just to have fun with the whole process. And that's the most important part!
I wanted to share a recent insight that I've been meditating on. As readers of my blog know, I really value reading and the power of books. And I also enjoy sharing snippets from current books in my Instagram stories. So basically if I come across something that I find interesting I share that section of the text.
Some nights I read for a while and find that there's nothing to share at all. And then other nights I end up sharing multiple lines of text. This led me to scouting for lines to share just for the chance at sharing something. So I searched and searched and of course.........found absolutely nothing. Why is this? Well, I think it's a mysterious law of the universe that lays this ground rule: "Seek and Ye Shall NOT Find".
Then I gave up looking for an interesting passage of text to share and continued my reading and within a paragraph, of course, found a very thought-provoking line to share. This rule applies to many other areas of life: work, relationships, solutions to problems etc. It's especially true while playing the game Cards Against Humanity; anyone who has played the game knows that when you pick up a new card, it would have been the perfect card to have just played, the one you were seeking.
I think this is pretty funny and has taught me a valuable lesson about the definition of "seeking", seeking is defined as "The attempt to find (something)." I think problem lies with the attempting. I don't think the answer to this paradox is the all-to-obvious inverse (to let something find YOU) but instead of that its lesson is to remove the attempt and to simply "Find". Hope everyone has a Happy Memorial Day! 🇺🇸