Portable Sketching Kit

Sketching daily is a great art discipline and finding 20 minutes to sketch is fairly do-able even in the most hectic of schedules.  Grab yourself a few basic tools (set out by tutor Nina Weiss) and you’re good to go…

  1. A box of coloured pencils
  2. a small sketchbook (her hands give an indication of its scale)
  3. 20 minutes

Nina finds it’s important to have these basic tools to hand at any moment when inspiration strikes.

Soon, this blog will feature her on a much longer drawing assignment, working from a photograph she took while travelling.


Portable Takeaway

What drawing/sketching/writing tools do you currently have?

Pool them together – you might be surprised.

Now pack them in such a way that you can have them with you, easy to get hold of, for as much of each day as possible.


start small – Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter works across a wide variety of textures and formats: painting over photographs, painting from photographs but blurring, mirrors, versions of a major Titian painting…… where do you even begin?

On what basis do you choose your format?
I choose depending on the way I feel; randomly, in other words. When I haven’t done anything for a long time, I always start small, on paper.

Interview with Anna Tilroe, 1987 SOURCE
If you would like to see where Gerhard Richter went from his small beginnings with new themes and styles – see a 7 minute video of a gigantic exhibition of his works through his life, put together by the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist – equally as famous in his own line of work as the artist.
Screen shot 2018-03-01 at 13.17.51

Because Hans Ulrich Obrist is such an amazing curator, working together with the living artist, Richter – they have made an exhibition which is the best of both their work – the gathering together of series (currently broken apart, sold and living in separate parts of the world) – and Richter requesting that there be an added unexpected counterpoint on one part-wall, sometimes making a new piece specifically for that.  So you have the best of the old together with an added spice of something new.

There are even mirrors at the beginning and end of the exhibition – so that, as Obrist comments, the viewer becomes part of the exhibition.

Interestingly, as we see how Richter takes a classic painting, paints it blurred and draws interest from painting blurred photographs…. as I paused the video, I noticed that the curator himself becomes blurred in a mysterious way – see his hands in movement.

“I can’t draw a straight line”

Many people say “I can’t draw a straight line” – this is a great starting point, because there are very few in nature (except the horizon).  Have you tried the freedom of collage?

Watch Rebecca Maloney collage a landscape, from a few lightly pencilled guide marks, using coloured paper from magazines.  And yes, she makes it wonderful because she is a skilled artist – but I bet this is not her first attempt.  What would yours look like?  If you can cover a whole piece of paper or canvas on board – have fun and give yourself a cheer when you complete.  You have created.

More on Collage

If you’d like to experiment more with collage, you’ll find many articles and videos on that subject on this blog.  Just type “collage” into the search box.  Enjoy!



Featured Artist: Lori Reed

Lori Reed‘s vibrant striated photo collages caught my eye recently, especially this one:

photo collage by Lori Reed

Sippin’ on sunshine

Lori described it thus: This 12″ x 12″ piece features a happy bee sipping his supper. I made one filtered version of the photo in Photoshop and 3 in Prisma. I cut them into irregular shapes and combined to reform the image, and added in some handmade papers, too.”

Having buzzed around the photos on her website, I knew that I wanted to show her work to a wider audience (that’s you) – and asked permission, delightfully, she granted it.  So here are a few more stunning photos, together with insights from the artist herself.


writer, blogger, hope

Change feels like not-knowing

I was so blown away by the honesty in this Alice Walker quote and the personal insight gifted by the blogger who quoted it in her blog, “This Beautiful life” – that I requested and received permission to share it.  Because it’s not too late to start the New year.

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant.


Poetry is as natural as thinking

Anyone who feels poetry is an alien or ominous form should consider the style in which human beings think. “How do you think?” I ask my students.”Do you think in complete, elaborate sentences? In fully developed paragraphs with careful footnotes? Or in flashes and bursts of images, snatches of lines leaping one to the next, descriptive fragments, sensory details?” We think in poetry. But some people pretend poetry is far away.

– Naomi Shihab Nye
advice on starting a blog, at www.commaand.co

“I’m thinking of starting a blog….” 11 tips

A friend of mine is considering beginning a blog, so I passed on some tips for the warmup lap, so to speak:

“As with all of my advice, it is unsought, possibly unwanted and unnecessary, but it comforts me to distribute it.

I am a bit of a natural teacher/preacher.  And of course it is entirely possible to be a naturally bad teacher – all’s I’m saying is that the impulse to pass on info is there.

You are in the pre-launch era.

But you can start straightaway with gathering content – your words, your pictures

You can never have too much.

It becomes like a library so that you are never beginning with a blank screen, a blank page and a blank mind.

Write down somewhere your ideas for topics – develop them as much as possible.  It’s useful to have a phrase, it’s better to have 100 words already written.

Collect snippets you’ve written to friends or others which can be seeds of longer articles

Every now and then do word searches on the internet – or just potter around – and find interesting articles or topics – immediately bookmark them so you can find them later

Potter through your photos, pulling out ones you like, putting them into a folder you can draw on

Go to youtube and search for videos on your subject area – bookmark these

Physical resources: get a box file (preferably in some pattern or colour that makes your heart sing) and keep throwing into it articles in magazines, papers which are of interest (you obviously research updates on what is in them, at the time of writing, so the info is current).

The choices of theme/layout are immense and bewildering – as you potter around other people’s blogs, worth keeping an eye out for features you like on a blog page, or even a whole page layout which you would like to emulate.  Note these down.  Then when you’re faced with a thousand choices of layout, you will have your guidelines to help.

Is there a trade show or exhibition on your chosen topic, so you can visit it and include in your blog/instagram?  Practice blogging it.  Do you have the tools you need to blog?  Or is there some tools you can buy to help you work easily on the trot?

Have fun with making content.  Know that it will take time and won’t earn you money right off the bat.”  

Start listening to podcasts by Problogger

ProBlogger recommended as great resource for starting your own blog, recommended by www.commaand.co

Darren Rowse, head of ProBlogger

This can take you step by step through the whole process from the beginning of an idea to monetizing it, with a healthy readership/followership.

*On 10 January 2018, Problogger begins a free course on starting a blog – so if you know someone considering blogging, this is a great time to link in with Problogger.  Details of this course and podcasts on their website.*

It covers all your decisions, and gets experts to advise.

Problogger was begun and still runs via Darren Rowse – an Aussie guy who has got the right mix of warmth and expertise to deliver useful info pleasantly and in that Australian twang that makes it fun.  He is easy to understand and doesn’t use unnecessarily technical language.

He has recorded over 200 brief podcasts (about 20 minutes each) on how to blog well, so far, and counting.  The earliest ones are how to get a blog running well in 30 days.

Confession: I haven’t listened to all his 200 podcasts, but I aim to get through a fair few as time goes on.  The ones I have listened to have taught me a huge amount of what I know.  They’re also amazingly brief and concise – you can learn a great deal just from listening for 20 minutes, making notes and then doing the actions he recommends.

He made it into a major business – but it did take him 12 years to go from beginning, through hobby to part-time then to full-time paid work.  He now employs a team to work for him.

Check out Melyssa Griffin

Advice on Starting your own Blog at www.commaand.co Look and get going from the getgo!Melyssa Griffin is a social media phenomenon – she began blogging while also working full-time and frankly found it hard work with little reward.  She also tried some ways of monetizing her blog, without success – so worth hearing her wisdom on that particular area.  Her goal was to earn her living by blogging – and she has accomplished that.

Check her out on Youtube.  Her website will immediately suggest you should be on her emailing list, so approach it with caution.

One of her key insights is that you can use Pinterest as people use it as a search engine – so run a Pinterest page and anytime you write a blog article, create pins from it – this gives yet another place for people to find and engage with your blog content.