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The Bling Layer: Try This When You’re Revising Your Novel.

The Bling Layer: Try This When You’re Revising Your Novel.

In a painting workshop with Carol Marine I learned this trick: At the very end of a painting, add the bling. The bling is that tiny, bright detail that makes a painting come to life. It’s the highlight on the rim of a coffee cup, the dark shadow under the tires of a car, the traffic light way down at the end of the block, glowing green. You can’t paint these details earlier in the process, because you’ll obliterate them with the broad...

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A Drawing is a Record of Your Lived Experience.

A Drawing is a Record of Your Lived Experience.

When I’m out drawing, I try to remember to resist the temptation to spend an hour looking for the perfect view. Anything can make an interesting drawing. If you’re in Paris, you don’t have to draw the Eiffel Tower. I was trapped under an awning during a rainstorm recently and drew a picture of the car parked across the street. It’s a funny, awkward little picture, but it ended up being my favorite drawing of the day. I want my...

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Hate the Idea of Outlines? Try a Thumbnail Sketch Instead.

  Most artists begin with some version of a thumbnail sketch. It might look like this one: a tiny, rough drawing, made with the purpose of working out where the big shapes go. Generally there’s some attempt at indicating value (light and dark) as well. You might do four of these before you settle on a composition that works. When I do an oil painting, I’m generally working from a photograph, so I’ve already messed around...

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Are You Haunted by a Restless Sense that There’s Something Better Out There? Congratulations, You’re an Artist

Are You Haunted by a Restless Sense that There’s Something Better Out There? Congratulations, You’re an Artist

  I can’t stop thinking about what I read in the last three pages of Peter Steinhart’s memoir The Undressed Art. If these lines speak to you…congratulations. You’re an artist. This was the first passage that stopped me in my tracks: “What does one feel that leads one to light out? A restlessness? A sense that one does not fit in? A desire for revision? A sense that somewhere else life could be better? All these seem to me to be...

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Stop Showing Your Art to Your Boyfriend.

Stop Showing Your Art to Your Boyfriend.

I was sitting in a park recently, drawing the trees, when a woman asked if she could sit down next to me and watch me draw. “Sure,” I said. “Are you an artist?” “I wanted to be,” she said. “I started to draw, but then I showed my drawings to my boyfriend and he said they were no good, so I quit.” “Stop showing your work to your boyfriend,” I said. She laughed. “Yeah, I guess I could do that.” ** Just last week I was on...

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A Cocktail for the New Novel!

A Cocktail for the New Novel!

In Chapter 23 of Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, divorce attorney John Ward makes a joke about a drink make with ginger ale, and then later suggests a cocktail called The Willful Deserter, which describes some of his clients. I put those two ideas together to offer up this delightful variation on a Moscow Mule. The Willful Deserter Juice of ½ lime 2 oz pineapple juice 2 oz vodka 4 oz ginger beer (such as Reed’s Ginger Beer) Sprig of mint...

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“How Do I Start My Book?” I Have an Answer to That Question.

“How Do I Start My Book?” I Have an Answer to That Question.

“I have an idea for a book, but I don’t know where to start.” People ask writers for advice on starting a book all the time. I’m sure a lot of writers get tired of trying to answer that question. There you are, behind a table at a booksigning, at the end of a long evening, trying to summarize the incredibly messy and frustrating process of making 300 pages come together as a coherent whole while a dozen other people wait...

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The Trick To Travel Packing: Take Only Three Outfits, No Matter How Long the Trip

The Trick To Travel Packing: Take Only Three Outfits, No Matter How Long the Trip

I’m about to leave on book tour (please come see me!). Every year I post a picture of my compact suitcase, and every year some of you ask me to explain what’s in that suitcase–in other words, how I manage to live out of a tiny suitcase for three weeks, when I have to get up in front of an audience and look halfway presentable every night. I never do answer those questions, because I feel weird talking about clothes. I deeply,...

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It’s Time for Another Art Auction

It’s Time for Another Art Auction

In the last year and a half, I’ve held a series of art auctions to benefit groups like Planned Parenthood, Pro Publica, and the American Refugee Committee. With your help, I was able to donate over $9000 to groups that were fighting the good fight. But as we move closer to election season, I know that what matters most is electing good people to office. That’s why I’m dedicating my latest batch of paintings–32 in...

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Pre-Order and Win Great Stuff

Pre-Order and Win Great Stuff

Our contest is now CLOSED! Thanks, everybody, for entering. If you happen to just be in love with our prizes and desperately want one, you can order one for yourself here.   The fourth installment in the Kopp Sisters series is here! Well, almost. It’ll be released in September, but if you’d like to pre-order your copy now, I’ll send you a present! Here’s how it works: If you pre-order a copy of the fourth Kopp...

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