Monday, November 30, 2009

MAM Poll (November 09) Results: What makes a good art teacher?

What makes a good art teacher?
copyright Katherine Tyrrell / Making A Mark

The Making A Mark Survey for November was about what makes a good art teacher. It gave readers of this blog an opportunity to select more than one response from the choice on offer. 113 respondents in fact provided 651 responses - which gave an average of 5.7 important attributes per respondent. This is much higher than in any other survey I've conducted to date. Obviously MaM Poll respondents like their art teachers to be well rounded characters!

You can see the results in the chart above - right click and open in a new tab to see the chart more clearly.

Interestingly what this means is that while a number of characteristics were identified by most people (see below), each characteristic as a percentage share of total responses is actually quite low (as represented by the yellow green bar in the chart) due to respondents' emphasis on teachers having a range of attributes .

The post announcing the poll MAM Poll (Nov. 2009): What makes a good art teacher? received a number of comments and I've highlighted extracts from these below.

What are the characteristics of a good art teacher?

So what does this all mean? It's interesting to see that people value a teacher's overall approach to teaching art rather than an art teacher's own particular skills at creating art or their knowledge about art.

What really matters is whether they are oriented towards learning, can explain and show what they are teaching and provide good quality feedback to those trying to learn.
Six top characteristics of a Good Art Teacher

Out of the 12 attributes identified, the top six are as follows.

A good art teacher is
  • Encouraging - providing constructive feedback (72%)
  • Good at demonstrations and explaining techniques (65%)
  • Enthusiastic and passionate about art (57%)
  • an effective communicator (53%)
A good art teacher also promotes independence in their students through:
  • learning and self-evaluation (56%)
  • originality and creativity (not just copying) (54%)
Commentary on different attributes
  • Encouraging - Teachers who are encouraging were identified as good teachers by 72% of respondents and this was by far the most popular attribute with nearly three quarters of the respondents identifying this as being important. I do wonder whether this characteristic explains why some artists do particularly well as tutors.
I have two art teachers and both are great in different ways.......In both cases developing an individual style is encouraged and there is always lots of supportive feedback - even if the end result is less than perfect! I find this encourages me and other members of my art group to remain passionate about the art that we produce.
  • Demonstrator - Learning by watching a tutor is obviously very popular (65%). it's very clear that art students do like a nice clear explanation backed up by a demonstration. For teachers the clear message is that this has implications for teaching tools - like step by step guides - as well as the approach with class. I've been amazed at times at the different approaches tutors take to providing documentary support for their tuition. These days it's not actually difficult for anybody to provide clear guidelines about how to tackle a particular skill or technique. Artists who provide guides in written form or as books or videos can generate a steady stream of income.
  • Enthusiastic - I take students' enthusiasm for tutors who are enthusiastic and passionate about art (58%) as being a vote for those tutors who are both positive and energising. There's nothing quite like a tutor who is able to ignite your enthusiasm for making art!
  • Effective communicator - It's interesting that being able to articulate what's important is less important to respondents (53%) than the ability to demonstrate. I do know that many artists will sign up for workshops with certain artist tutors who are recognised to be very able as painters but who (without naming names) are also known for being less than articulate. They do virtually all their teaching through demonstrations and a few incisive comments by way of feedback.
  • Enabling and empowering - Teachers are particularly valued if they
    • enable a student to learn and develop skills in evaluating their own work (56%) and
    • promote the innate originality and creative skills of students (54%) rather than trying to create carbon copies of the tutor's own work. I have very little enthusiasm for the tutor whose sole aim is to create copycat students so I was particularly pleased to see this attribute being so highly valued.
I teach workshop style with students setting their own agenda with subject and medium..... I see my job teaching them as being a catalyst to develop their own voices and interests.
vivien blackburn

the most important training technique, I believe, is guided-discovery

The worst artist/teacher is someone who gives their time and experience mainly to those students who reflect their own ideas and style. It is dispiriting to sit in a class when this is happening. The best teacher for me is someone who is able to encourage you to keep working despite what you produce.
Some surprises? Less than 50% of respondents thought that the following were important
  • Practising artist - More than half the respondents (48%) thought that a teacher need NOT be a good artist. I guess we could split hairs on this one. I've seen a fair few 'bad' artists in my time who attempt to sell their skills as a teacher. I've always recommended prospective students to take a very close look at an artist's own work BEFORE booking a course or workshop to avoid potentially nasty surprises and a waste of money. However I do agree that it's not essential that an artist make a living as an artist in order to teach. Being a 'good artist' AND making a living from your art is not always possible.
there seems to be no correlation between the quality of the art the teacher produces themselves and the quality of their teaching. The most famous, most professionally successful, artists and designers who taught me were generally speaking the worst tutors.
Julie Oakley
  • Teacher knows best - Only 31% of people thought that it was important that their teachers should be very knowledgeable - about matters relating to e.g. specific art media (e.g. painting in watercolours) or art history. I found this really surprising. However I suspect that this is an attribute which is maybe valued more by those who know what a big difference this can make. My personal experience has always been that those who have studied art (through years of practice and/or formal learning) and know an awful lot about their own specific area of expertise usually provide the best value - although the learning may come as much from conversations over dinner as it does from work in the studio or plein air. I know that in future I'm certainly going to make sure that I explain why I think certain art instruction books are better than others - in terms of demonstrable knowledge and expertise.
  • Teaching methods - 42% thought a teacher's ability to set appropriate and challenging goals was important while 45% thought it was important that the teacher could be flexible and adapt their tuition to a students' learning style.
Personally I found having a teacher who was flexible, encouraging yet pushed me slight was the best.
Tina Mammoser
  • Peer groups - Very few people (9%) thought that it was essential that they were taught in classes which were geared towards their ability.
With a good concept and structure it is much easier to have participants of different levels within the same group.
Astrid Volquardsen
Did you have any surprises? What did you think about the results of the poll?

Does it have any messages for you - as an art student or as an art teacher?

Tomorrow I'll post the poll for December - which is a fun one!


29th November 2009 - Who's made a mark this week?

I was in the country this weekend for a housewarming. Then got home to find out there had been a family emergency so "Who's made a mark this week?" didn't get posted yesterday and is a bit shorter than usual.

Wallace Collection - Judy and the horses (27.11.09)
11.5" x 17", pen and sepia ink in Daler Rowney Sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

My double spread pen and ink sketch above is from my visit to the Wallace Collection on Friday. I visited the new display of their nineteenth century paintings - which were a great surprise to me. Read about why and see more sketches on my sketchbook blog next week.

Art Blogs

Drawing and sketching
Mont-Saint-Michel from the Rue De Rivage
coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Coloured Pencils and Pastels
  • Brenda Boylan's blog is called Dusty Fingers. It's a new (to me) blog by an artist using pastels. She's a member of the Northwest Pastel Society, the Portland Plein-Aire & Studio Painters and her work has been published in the Best of America Pastel Series II.
  • Plus a new post by a pastel artist I know much better - this is Gesa Helms's Plein air pastel sketches: Scotland, Germany and Chile on her new 'art for sale' blog Gesa Helms Art.
The Meadow 2
plein air sketch by Gesa Helms
  • Pauline Longley (Pauline Longley's ArtBlog) discusses how she used an iron to melt wax from her coloured pencils in Owl on a sheet of Pastelmat.
Painters and Painting
  • Boy artist's landscapes sell for £17,000 - I'm never quite sure with stories like this whether to wonder why people get so carried away, or to be really pleased for prodigal child who enjoys success at a young age or to allow my inner green eyed monster to be seriously miffed! Take a look at Kieron Williamson's website and linked gallery and decide for yourself.


This is the Printsy Interview with

Art Business and Marketing

Experian® Hitwise® announced today that online traffic to a custom category of Black Friday advertising Websites increased 87 percent for the week ending Nov. 21, 2009.

Black Friday Traffic Up 87 Percent Pre-Thanksgiving Week

Art and the Economy / Art Collectors

Art Competitions

  • Wet Canvas has a competition where members can vote for the best still life, best portrait and best landscape. I'm afraid I wasn't blown away by the choices on offer - I've seen much nicer work on blogs this year. What did you think?
  • All the good ideas get copied sooner or later! ;) I'll be starting the nomination process for the best artwork on a blog in early December - with voting taking place over the seasonal festivities - as I've done for the last two years. Now to decide whether I should vary my categories!

Art Exhibitions and art fairs

Art Galleries and Museums
Art Societies
  • The Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club opened last week at the Mall Galleries and I got distracted by the Wallace Collection yesterday so didn't get to see it as planned and will probably now visit early next week. The exhibition closes on 7th December. Very sensibly NEAC has set up a separate trading company and also makes work available to buy online. What's also good about this is you get to see the sizes and prices as well.
Art Bloggers

Clouds and Fields (2009) by Lisa McShane
30" x 40", Oil on Canvas.

Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

Tips and techniques

Art History, Art Galleries and Museums

Art Societies and Art Groups

  • I continue to develop Art Societies in the UK - Resources for Artists which is beginning to get a lot of visitors as I add in more websites. Still lots to do though! Do send me your recommendations and/or point out any important omissions.
  • This week I posted 10 questions for Art Society websites which is really a comment on what I've been finding on art society websites. Why not check out your society's website and see how it measures up?
  • Subject to Interpretations was created for the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters and is a winter project for sharing painting experiences. A referece photo is posted twice a month. Brenda Boylan highlighted it on her blog and says it was inspired by Karin Jurick's successful Different Strokes blog. It's very early days but it looks like a potentially good model for enabling artists in art groups to keep in touch over the winter months

Art Supplies

Book reviews

  • We had Black Friday last week - plus two announcements about new books being published by artists. It's interesting to see two different approaches to book production.
The first edition is in Softcover, 160 pages, 8&frac;12" x 10" and printed on acid free heavyweight Japanese art paper. With 140 full color plates
    • Robert Genn (The Painters' Keys) announced the publication of a new book ($30.00 plus shipping). That means $5 shipping for USA orders but US$20 shipping if you live outside North America. Prices for Canada and the USA are in their respective local currencies.
The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letters, 960 pages--10 years of over 1,000 unabridged letters including an 82-page index. Six by nine inches and more than two inches thick, it's hardbound Red Cayenne with a separate dust jacket, a red ribbon, and a protective book box.

Opinion Poll

Websites, webware and blogging

If you don’t have enough story, don’t publish. If you have too much story, edit it down. When the story is right, publish.
  • Twitterfeed - I noticed Seth Godin was using Twitterfeed (Twitterfeed blog) to automate posting of blog posts to Twitter and Facebook - so I signed up mid-week. I then removed the Twitter feed midweek before I found the button for altering how the updates post to Twitter. However I'm not happy with automatic retweets if you update your blog or go back to sort out grammer and spelling! This is the blog and it sounds like they've been growing fast. Here's Guy Kawasaki on twitterfeed – SES 2009 Keynote (that particular tweek on twitterfeed made my jaw drop!) Let me know if you have any comments.
  • Most influential websites: ReadWriteWeb told us The Most Influential Websites in the World: Wikipedia #1, Twitter #4 With a Bullet - except this is WRONG! I checked mine out and the only links which were recognised were the ones from NON blogspot URLs - which makes just a teeny weeny bit of a difference!
  • Looks like Plaxo could be a site to stay away from. It appears to be sharing too much personal information - according to Stephen Fry (who) accuses Plaxo of telling too much about him

and finally........

In the meantime, I'm going to be trying to produce quite a few book reviews for those who are looking for suggestions for their seasonal present list.

Starting with my book review of James Gurney's Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist which I've just finished reading and which should be published later today.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Artists and the Economic Recession Survey

You can read The Artists and the Economic Recession Survey: Selected Findings online.

The Study was commissioned by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), in collaboration with Helicon Collaborative and Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

LINC's website (see right) is
The survey sought to understand artists’ financial circumstances more than a year into the recession, their strategies for adaptation, and their needs and concerns at this time.
Some key facts about the survey and how representative it is of visual artists:
  • 5,380 artists nationwide completed the survey between July 20 and August 17, 2009.
  • Half the artists identified their primary art form as visual art
  • 49% spent substantial time on at least two different art forms.
  • 69% have been practicing their art form for more than 10 years.
For many artists, the recession has reduced the financial support for their art work and their incomes in general, but for many it also brought a freedom to concentrate on their art in new ways.
Selected Findings - Postive Attitudes and Opportunities
Here's some highlights of its conclusions
  • More than one job - Two-thirds of artists hold at least one job in addition to making art.
Designers and architects (54%) are most likely to earn their living solely through their artistic practice
Selected findings - Income
  • Artists’ incomes are relatively low (two-thirds made less than $40,000 in 2008), and half (51%) reported a decrease in their art-related income from 2008 to 2009.
Artists who spend more than 40 hours a week on their art work and depend on it for a higher percentage of their income are most likely to have experienced a decline in their art-related income.
Selected findings - Income
  • Forty percent of artists do not have adequate health insurance and more than 50% are worried about losing what they do have.
Many of artists’ top worries are those concerning the rest of the population as well, such as
health care, debt, income and retirement plans.

Artists’ chief worry is
  • loss of income (77%), followed by
  • fewer sales (70% worried or very worried),
  • difficulty finding funding for future projects (67%),
  • rising amounts of debt (61%),
  • fewer exhibition/presentation opportunities (59%),
  • fewer grants (59%) and
  • low morale for themselves and others they know (59%).
  • Other major concerns are loss of health insurance and derailed retirement plans.
  • Despite the challenges, artists are optimistic about the future—89% think artists have a special role in helping strengthen communities in these times, and 75% believe this is an inspiring time to be an artist.
  • Some opportunities have emerged as a result of the recession—40% report they have been able to spend more time on their art work, and one-third have seized the opportunity to experiment and collaborate more.
  • What artists need help with - While direct financial support would be most helpful to artists, technical assistance, networking opportunities, and supplies are also high on the list.
While practically all artists use the Internet often for at least one arts-related activity, those with high usage patterns (23%) have some significant distinguishing characteristics. These artists are more likely to be younger (less than 44 years of age), more involved in community activities offline, and more optimistic about the future than artists who use the Internet less frequently

This is a link to the New York Times article A Survey Shows Pain of Recession for Artists which comments further on this survey

Below are links to my information sites which aim to support artists in art business matters and the art economy generally.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

From sketchbook to studio

Mont-Saint-Michel from the Rue De Rivage
coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

When I get home from a trip I start beginning to work up sketches - however I use them in different ways.

Today I'm posting about my visit to Mont-Saint-Michel on the Normandy coast on my Travels with a Sketchbook blog - see Le Mont St Michel. So I thought I'd show you where I've got to in terms of drawings done since I got home

My sketch - done while sat in the car park!
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Using a photo and the sketch

Quite often I try to work up a drawing based in realism which is informed by both a photo taken and a sketch.

This might happen because the photo includes more of the view whereas my sketch focuses on the primary subject. Such drawings can often be about seeing what works and what doesn't.

This particular drawing - which I don't like at all - convinced me that the trick with drawing Mont-Saint-Michel was getting the values right in relative terms. It's most impressive as a silhouette - but this drawing hasn't 'got it' as a silhouette of a masse with a very interesting shape.

Mont-Saint-Michel #1
9" x 12"
coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Sketching from a photo

Which led me to my next drawing.

Sometimes I take a photo I particularly like and try to sketch it using the information I derived from the sketch I completed. This generally relates to matters like the extent to which I should try and lose detail even if it's obvious in the photo.

Sometimes I'm sketching from a photo because it's a view which I would have chosen to sketch except there was no time to stop or it's very difficult to stop in that place. Views from the side of a road with no verge are an obvious example.

This drawing at the top came about because I wanted to get back to the silhouette which was what appealed to me in the first place. To me it looked more impressive from a distance. So having learned the lesson about values I had another go - this time sketching from a photo I took from the passenger seat of the car while being driven past on our way to our visit.

Reworking the sketch

The other thing I am stumped by at the moment is what colour palette to use. We were there when it was both sunny and cloudy. With my first drawing I'd come to the conclusion that one of the other reasons I didn't like it was that it looked too "touristy".

So I tried again - with a cloudy sky - and this time my study used coloured pencils with an abrasive support - thinking it might work better as a pastel. This is not a final composition (I'd never have the spire in the centre!) - it's more of a colour study

Mont-Saint-Michel #3
9" x 12"
coloured pencils on pastelcard
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm still not convinced I like the trees when doing a view up close. They seem like a bit of a distraction to me

I'm still inclined to think I like it best at more of a distance and as a silhouette - like the top one. Maybe leaning towards something which could have colour field influences with lots of colours glazed one over the other

The other thing I'm convinced of is that it works better if flat colour is broken up in some way - hence the clouds in the first and third ones and the banding in the fields in the top one.

I'm not sure as yet where it goes next. However I thought you might like to see the thinking process so far - and how many drawings I can produce before I get to the one I'm happy with. Which incidentally hasn't been produced as yet!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

10 questions for Art Society websites

I'm currently building up the links to all the various local art societies in the UK in my new resource site Art Societies in the UK - Resources for Artists. In doing so, I'm having to first find and then my find my way around a number of art society websites - and it's proving to be a fascinating - and in some instances slightly tortuous - experience!

One of the things my resource site does is provide a mini description of each and every local art society listed to go with the link to the website. I thought it might be useful to provide a checklist of what I'm looking for when I'm searching a website.

You might then care to check it out against your art society website to see if you can find the answers quickly. I'm certainly not finding it easy to find answers to a lot of them!
  • What area does your art society cover? It's amazing how many local art societies are unclear on this point.
  • When was your art society founded? I like to try and include a date if it's important to the society. It's a small point but it says something about how well established it might be - and possibly something about how set in its ways it might be too! ;) How the rest of the website reads says something about how open and confident the society is or how inclusive or cliquey it might be. Websites which talk more about the past rather than the present tell you a lot.
  • Does your art society exclude any art media or activity? Does the society website say is the scope of art society media and what if anything it excludes? For example a number of art societies specificially mention that they exclude photography.
  • What does your art society actually do? A number are very good at providing short succinct descriptions of what they do. They seem to be the more active ones. The ones that don't say what they do give an impression of inactivity. The best ones have really good menus which point to all the different activities.
  • How many members does your art society have? This can be an indication of size and how healthy and active your organisation is for people wondering about whether to apply for membership. It's also helpful to make clear if there are different categories of membership.
  • Do you limit membership in any way? If so, how - in simple terms? Quite often membership is limited but the criteria for membership is sometimes not spelt out clearly. A number of art societies provide no information whatsoever on their websites about how to become a member!
  • Do members need to live in the area? It's interesting to see that some art societies offer temporary memberships for artists visiting an area.
  • What's the subscription? Not a point I need to know for my website - but it's noticeable that some websites are better than others in telling first-time visitors how much it costs to become a member.
  • Is your website set up properly?
    • Does it have a unique and easy to remember URL? Most art societies have gone to the trouble of obtaining a unique and accurate domain name for their art society website. Those that have seem to go with ones which is distinctive and easy to remember. Some however are still being hosted on sites which generate URLs which are a mile long and complete gobbledygook!
    • Does it have a short and succinct website description for search engines? The webmaster of any website should set it up so that you determine the succinct short description of your society which then gets generated automatically in any search engine when the site gets listed in response to a search. If an art society does this and it's good I leave it alone. If they don't or if it's inadequate as a description I start looking for more information (hence why I'm writing this post!)
On that last point, you'd be amazed at how many large organisations don't seem to be able to get that one right - including major museums which generate their menu list instead of a description!

The image on the right comes from Bournemouth Arts Club which was nominated by artist Felicity House.

I have to say I wish more art society websites looked like this one. It features:
  • a clean contemporary look
  • a very easy to understand website menu along the top which guides you quickly and easily to what you want to know - including links to exhibitions and member artists' websites.
  • succinct text which says enough and no more.
  • Finally it's also got some really great artwork - which tells you a lot about the calibre of the members!
You can get a link to your art society website in Art Societies in the UK - Resources for Artists by leaving a comment in the feedback section on the site or as a comment on this post.


Monday, November 23, 2009

All About Cats

This is for the feline lovers amongst you!

I learned an awful lot about cats recently when putting together an update of my resource site All About Cats (which doesn't have an awful lot to do with art - but people who draw cats will like it!)

I also laughed myself silly while previewing the Simon's cat videos which are also included in this resource. Do take a peek if you own a cat - you won't regret it!

coloured pencils on Arche HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

One of them is so like my boy cat Cosmo (see right - you'd be right to think butter might not melt in that mouth but that's because he prefers roast chicken and nice fish if he can get it!) that I had tears running down my face from laughing before I got to the end. It spoke volumes about Cosmo when in over-excitable mode!

Every time I look at one of those Simon's cat videos it makes me think how art can be anything visual - it's not just landscapes and portraits and still life - and it can make us laugh too!

Making a Mark reviews......

Sunday, November 22, 2009

22nd November 2009 - Who's made a mark this week?

Yesterday was also the 5th anniversary of the very first Sketchcrawl - see Sketchcrawl is 5! (Plus 25th Worldwide Sketchcrawl tomorrow)

Mathew Brehm (Sketchblog) who teaches architecture at the University of Idaho and is a contributor to Urban Sketchers did a rather nice title page for his sketchcrawl in Moscow, Idaho.

25th Worldwide Sketchcrawl by Matthew Brehm

This is Urban Sketcher's interview with Enrico Casarosa (Enrico's blog) - the man who started it all- Five years later, Casarosa's sketchcrawls keep us drawing
The act of drawing has a meditative quality and that's what's great about it, it forces you to slow down and really take into account what you are seeing.
Here are some posts I found of people out sketching on Urban Sketchers. It is of course totally predictable that the east is posting faster than the west!
If you want to catch the next one try following Sketchcrawl on Twitter

Art Blogs

More blogging about trips to France

Early evening at the Auberge du Terroir
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Art Business & Marketing

I have no idea when this started or who the original perpetrators were, but I get more pointless, idiotic, ill-conceived and just plain lame single-sentence (and sometimes slightly longer) email communications like these (examples provided) from artists the world over trying to get exposure for their art-- way more than I would have ever imagined possible.

Art Collectors - and the art economy

In summary, evidence suggests that: (1) the wealth of the wealthy drives art prices; and, (2) art prices tend to evolve with, or somewhat behind, the equity market at a similar pace.

Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

Art school
  • I think I know what I might be writing about on Tuesday! According to the BBC Saatchi says 'Don't be an artist'. This is by way of a prelude to the BBC 'X-factor' type programme School of Saatchi which starts on BBC2 on Monday 23 November (9.00-10.00pm BBC2), the synopsis being................
Powerful art world supremo Charles Saatchi sets six unknown artists up in their own East London studio for 10 weeks and commissions them to make a series of ambitious artworks, as he begins a search for the next generation of creatives............In today's opener, a shortlist of applicants bring their work to a London warehouse for scrutiny by the panel – artist Tracey Emin, critic and broadcaster Matthew Collings, art collector Frank Cohen and Barbican curator Kate Bush. They are confronted by an array of bizarre and wondrous work that constitutes contemporary art today
Demonstrations / guides
  • Jana Bouc (Jana's Journal & Sketchblog) has a great three part demonstration on her blog of a painting she is doing for a book. It's so nice to see a LONG explanation of what she is doing and lots of photos of how the painting progresses. I hope that's how it gets treated in the book too. I've highlighted books Jana has contributed to on this blog in the past and it looks like there's another one in the pipeline - it's called “Must Paint Watercolor Flowers” (Quarto Publishers, London)
detail of the painting of "Sunny Serenade" by Jana Bouc
watercolor, 15.5"x10.5"
copyright the artist
Step by Step - cats's eye demo by Gayle Mason

Art Exhibitions

Exhibitions involving artist bloggers
Don't forget to contact me if you want your blog post about your exhibition highlighted here.

Exhibitions elsewhere

Art Societies

Art Supplies

Book reviews

Rarest of all, there are art instruction books that are born out of the artist’s sheer enthusiasm for what they have learned and the desire to share it with any who are inclined to benefit from that knowledge. Imaginative Realism is one of those rare gems.............I also haven’t seen many art instruction books as information dense as this one. Not that the book feels visually cramped in any way, the book design is clear and elegant, but every one of its 200+ pages can be mined for nuggets of art technique gold.
  • Postcard from Provence - the book is being published in Spring 2010. Julian Merrow Smith and his wife Ruth have been very busy this week advertisng and responding to a very special pre-order opportunity for his mailing list of his new book. This has raised the capital sum required for the printing costs and indicates this is going to be a pretty popular book. As many of you will know I've been following Julian since I started blogging and am a huge fan. I passed on the subscription offer but will certainly be buying the book. The standard edition is going to be available to pre-order next week in time for Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving - which is when the serious shopping for Christmas really starts. One has to admire the timing! ;) Julian's plan is to offer a stocking filler card so that people can gift a copy and offer a discount or free shipping for all books pre-ordered before a certain date. The book will have a softcover holding 160 pages and 140 full colour plates (which I'm guessing are probably going to be mainly 'life-size'). Price likely to be very affordable.

Opinion Polls

  • Lots more people have responded to this month's opinion poll (in the right hand column). Have you answered the question yet - What makes a good art teacher?

Social Media, websites, blogging and webware

"When we look at where we can grow we look to the more than four billion active mobile phone accounts in the world, opposed to the 1.65 million active web accounts."

and finally............

I'm hoping that one of my favourite art suppliers hasn't been flooded in the "once in a millenium" rainstorms and floods in Cumbria (the Lake District) last week - 314.4mm (12.3in) of rain for a 24-hour period were recorded at Seathwaite Farm in Borrowdale.

Heaton Cooper is in Grasmere (in the next valley east of Borrowdale) and I viewed a BBC video of a car driving down the road to Grasmere into a flood caused by waterfalls coming over the top of the stone walls! The message on their website is that they hope to be back to normal after the weekend.

This is a link to photos of the floods in Cumbria

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cindy Woods - One year on

I can't quite believe that it's a year today since Cin passed away.

Who can forget end of story and rest of the end of my story - I know I can't.

I've still got her blog Learn Daily in my blogroll and I won't be removing it from there.

I've still got links to her wonderful posts about her trips on my sketchbook blog.

Ronda is still posting Cin's "back catalogue" and I'm still enjoying seeing her posts from time to time.

But it's not the same.........

I'm a strong believer in the notion that you've never truly gone until there is no one left who still thinks about you.

Thinking of you Cin - and being very thankful to have known you.

PS I can't take any credit for this wonderful image. It is of course a Cindy special done for Thanksgiving in 2005 - which was just after I started reading her blog.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sketchcrawl is 5! (Plus 25th Worldwide Sketchcrawl tomorrow)

On November 21st 2004, the very first global sketching marathon was held.

Tomorrow, 21st November it is
Here's a thread about 5 YEARS of SKETCHCRAWLING around the WORLD.

What is a sketchcrawl?

This is what Founder Enrico Casarosa has to say about it back in February 2006.
The basic idea: to record nonstop everything I could around me with my pencil and watercolors. A drawn journal filled with details ranging from the all the coffee I drank to the different buses I took. After a whole day of drawing and walking around the city the name seemed quite fitting: "SketchCrawl" - a drawing marathon. The crawl was more tiring than I imagined but also more fun and exciting than I had thought. Giving yourself this kind of mandate for a full day changes the way you look around you. It makes you stop and see things just a tad longer, just a bit deeper … needless to say I loved it.

I soon figured out it was much more interesting to do the marathon with a group of artists instead of all by myself! And so SketchCrawl turned communal. After a whole day of drawing it proved to be amazingly interesting and inspiring to share and compare other people's drawings and thoughts. Different takes on our surroundings, different details, different sensibilities.

The next step was making the SketchCrawl a World Wide event: having people from different corners of the world join in a day of sketching and journaling and then, thanks to the Internet, having everyone share the results on an online forum.

So here it is, we have a website now, a few Crawls behind me, some by myself some with friends and artists from around the world … and hopefully plenty SketchCrawls ahead of us.
Enrico Casarosa - About Sketchcrawl February 2006

There are some who would say it's also another form of Sketchercise!

Where are the Sketchcrawls taking place around the world?

This is a map of all the places participating in the 24th Sketchcrawl in September 2009

In the Sketchcrawl Forum plans are being made and this is a list of the current places planning a sketchcrawl. It's not too late to start planning for another venue.

I've always really fancied travelling with my sketchbook to a different city to do a sketchcrawl! When I look down the list of places participating I want to start looking up planes and trains!

South America
If you're out there and sketching don't forget to take a photograph of your group and to post it to the forum.

Here in London I can't help thinking that I'm going to be very deterred by the weather. The forecast is for heavy rain and wind for the next couple of days!!! Looks like the plans are to sketch in and around the National Gallery.

However wouldn't it be great if as many people as possible go sketching tomorrow?

All because one chap went on a pub crawl and then wondered what it would be like if he went on a crawl with a sketchbook instead!