how to

Artists getting gallery representation

Do you know an artist who has learnt their craft and begun producing new and original work – and they’d like to get their work into galleries and selling?

Check out this brief and informative video – it takes a very simple, straightforward approach.

Basically, Brainard Carey recommends:

  1. Select your best 10 pictures, have good photos of them on an ipad, ready to show.
  2. Pick galleries near where you live
  3. (Leave your work at home) Go to their opening nights for another artist’s work, see how it is, in full flow
  4. Ask to speak to someone about a particular sculpture or painting you like – ask a question, see how they handle it
  5. Judge how they would represent YOU by how they are selling the other artist’s work – are they knowledgeable, interesting, and make an attractive case?  Then decide if they would be good for representing you.
  6. Visit the gallery next day, with your work ready to show on ipad or portable screen device – ask if they consider new artists’ work?
  7. If yes, how would they like to see the work?  (They will possibly say email 2 or 3 images – but if they would like to see your work right then and there, you have the images already with you, ready for display)




Starting to write that novel/play/film

Do you aim to finally write That Book or play or film over the winter holidays or in the New Year?  Yes, you’re keen, have notebooks full of ideas – but it just seems like a shapeless mass of words. Everyone finds their own best way of writing, eventually.  For someone who has not yet found their way, here’s one simple approach which took a writer from keen but failing to get publishers – towards his first book published. Steven Pressfield. (10 minute video)

Steven: “One of the things I get asked a lot is how did you break through with your first published novel?… at the beginning why was it so bad, so unpublishable – how did it change?  What got better?”

People tend to ask him that because, as he says at the start of the movie, he was unpublished for 30 years of writing – but finally got a tip from a mentor, followed it, and wrote his first published novel, “The Legend of Bagger Vance” which sold 250,000 copies and was made into a film.

Screen shot 2017-12-23 at 15.34.29

Steven Pressfield’s book on how he wrote his first published book

Steven has condensed the techniques learned and used in writing that first published book into “The Authentic Swing”.  Here, he gives the nub of the idea which changed his writing success.

(There’s another video tomorrow.)

“How to be a Poet” published this week

If you’ve ever wanted advice on “How to be a Poet”, there’s a book with precisely that title, by key UK poetry publisher Nine Arches press, published in a few days’ time (20th December 2017.)  It’s written by Jo Bell and Jane Commane – who are poets and editors in their own write (right).


The book is a sizeable 200 pages long, on sale for about £15 (depending whether you’ve buying in a real bookshop or an online retailer) and as well as Jo and Jane’s insights, includes articles by “special guests”.

How will this book help my writing?


creative pledge

Screenwriting Masterclass: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Phil Lord and Chris Miller, screenwriters or producers on such diverse projects as “The Lego Movie”, “21 Jump Street”, “Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs”, TV’s “How I met your Mother” (3 episodes), “The Lego Batman movie“…. give a masterclass on screenwriting and producing.  They break it up really well.  So although they speak for 53 minutes, they’re worth hearing.

They have a relaxed way of presenting together, bring in some crazy fun but over and over again repeat that they’re obsessive about making every tiny part of their projects absolutely brilliant – refusing to settle for merely excellent.  As the presentation continues, and this is repeated, you realise that they are speaking truly.

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 02.26.15They speak for under an hour – and then there is a further 30 minutes of questions and answers – which are good – so worth setting aside the full one hour and a half to watch in its entirety.  They are amusing, honest about early failures and difficulties and how they won through was – no surprise, folks – lots of hard work.  They write and rewrite and rewrite and tweak and rewrite, show to friends, rewrite.



Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 02.33.25

One tip which came across clearly was to show your script to other people – no matter who they are in the studio pecking order or whether they’re friends/family – they’re a person with an honest opinion – and as writer you should listen up, because you are too close to the project to see its flaws.  It’s humility – but it’s also good sense.

The two voices give variety to what is said, and there are plenty of illustrations and clips from their projects:

Along the way, they present their maths of working as a partnership:

half the money, twice the effort, twice the time = an output which is 1.3 times better!

They also lead the audience in a pledge to make work, and are adamant that all humans are creative, anyone can do the work they do but it is hard work, done repetitively.

What they’ve also learned along the way are, like all important learning, found through failure and near failure.  One vital lesson was learning to listen to other people’s feedback and recognise that making a film is a hugely collaborative venture.  Also, to recognise that even at the end, the film is actually ‘made’ in the imagination of the viewers.  And this is one reason given for really listening to someone/anyone who has an opinion on the work – because if they don’t get the story clearly, then likely the final paying punters will find it puzzling in the same way.

A film is about RELATIONSHIP not just CHARACTER.

This is a great insight – at one point, “Cloudy with Meatballs” was about a main character and a situation – it was funny but there wasn’t a real sense of involvement, until they made one of the characters the father of the hero – and the hero wanted to get his taciturn father’s approval.

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 03.31.32If you want to be a screen writer, then watching this interview is a good thing to do – yes, it is long, but that gives enough time to talk pleasantly and with humour through the whole career process.

In fact, the whole series of “Genius” strand of masterclasses by BAFTA looks worth a checkout.  See them here.

Beginning to paint art

I’ve just found a great resource for beginning to paint at  Have a look at this article by Marion Boddy-Evans.  If you’ve got a question, you’re very very likely to find the answer here.  (be aware that the host site also covers different hobbies such as dangerous sports and gambling!)


photo by SLR Jester/10627862834/Flickr

Questions answered:

What’s the difference between oils, acrylics or watercolours?

How can I buy materials at the start which aren’t hideously expensive but not cheap and cheerless so they give disappointing results?

When I go into a shop, I’m baffled by having to choose between “student” and “artist” quality paints – what’s the difference?

How do I mix paints?

Which brushes should I buy?

What can I paint on?

Where can I get ideas of what subject to paint as a beginner?

Any clues for how to layout (“compose”) a picture so that it looks well?

How do I hang my finished painting?




Poet with L plates

Advice on beginning to write poetry by US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins.  (Video under 3 mins.)


Read other people’s poetry.  Read widely.  Read.  Read.  A lot.    ABout 10,000 hours worth, to get a sense of what has gone before.  As you read, you are naturally absorbing the technique and rhythms of poetry.  It’s like learning to play the cello – you don’t just get one and play brilliantly, you practice and do classes.

Your first writings will probably be for self-expression.  This is for yourself.  But if you want your work to be read and enjoyed by others – then you have that in mind as you write – “I am making something for someone else”.  There are 3 parts to a poem – line, sentence stanza (or verse).  You are trying to make all of them good.

The wastebasket is the writer’s best friend.  If a poem isn’t working, don’t force it, start another.

“If I’m writing for a while and I’m writing maybe a failure and another failure … a poem will come, often a little poem,” he said. “It has nothing to do with what I’ve written but it would not have occurred had I not been failing.”

Paul Klee and McKee

In the same day, I came across some lessons on art from the famous Paul Klee – at the same time and place as a glorious coloured painting from Paul McKee, “Headland”:



Paul McKee is an art teacher as well as freelance artist – and his blog pointed out some free lessons on becoming an artist by Paul Klee, posted by Sarah Gottesman as an editorial on Artsy (


Lesson #1: Take a Line for a Walk

Many of Klee’s lessons center around this type of categorization, demonstrating the multiple ways in which a point can become a line, a line can become a plane, and so on. 


Lesson #2: Observe a Fishtank

  • Paul Klee

    Sans Titre (Deux poissons, un hameçon, un ver), 1901

    “Paul Klee: L’ironie à l’oeuvre” at Centre Pompidou, Paris

  • Paul Klee

    Schlamm-Assel-Fisch (Mud-Woodlouse-Fish), 1940

    Fondation Beyel

    Klee was deeply concerned with creating movement in his compositions. And he asserted that all artworks—even the most abstract—should be inspired by nature. “Follow the ways of natural creation, the becoming, the functioning of forms,” he taught his students. “Then perhaps starting from nature you will achieve formations of your own, and one day you may even become like nature yourself and start creating.”

    Lesson #3: Draw the Circulatory System

    Klee studied nature obsessively, and took a particular interest in the branching forms of plants, organ systems, and waterways. In his lectures, he described these patterns with scientific specificity, mapping mathematical equations and arrow-filled diagrams on the board. He explored how seeds sprout, how leaves develop ribs, and how lakes break off into streams, almost always ending with an awe-inspiring assertion about the magic contained in nature’s growth and development.

    In one of these lessons, Klee explored the circulatory system, sketching on the chalkboard the movement of blood through the body. He claimed that this bodily process reflected the manner in which art is created. Afterwards, Klee asked his students to draw the circulatory system themselves. Their renderings, he insisted, should portray the transition of blood from stage to stage, shifting from red to blue, using line and density to represent shifts in weight, nutrients, and force.

Lesson #4: Weigh the Colours

  • Left: Paul Klee’s colour chart, from his notes. Image via Zentrum Paul Klee; Right: Goethe’s color wheel, published in Theory of Colours. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Only after students grasped the intricacies of lines and planes—and could find these forms in nature—did Klee introduce colour. His theories primarily drew upon Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s color wheel, put forth a century earlier, in 1809, which proposed the idea that red opposed green, orange opposed blue, and yellow opposed violet.

Klee added a new dimension to this diagram, turning it into a sphere, with white at the top and black at the base. This framework, he taught, should encompass all aspects of color, including hue, saturation, and value. Klee required his students to create colour diagrams of their own, including one assignment in which they visually weighed one colour against another—the color red, as it turns out, is heavier than the color blue.

While grounded in science, Klee was also a romantic when it came to colour. He often made connections between colour and music, explaining that combinations of colours (much like musical notes) can be harmonious or dissonant depending on the pairing. He would sometimes even play the violin for his students.

Lesson #5: Study the Greats