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How do you mix colors?

Posted by on May 30, 2020 in Classes, Creativity, Paintings


HERE IT IS! I’ve been promising to do this class on color mixing and the color wheel for a while now, and now it’s done.

Here’s what it’s about: As an artist, you’re probably familiar with the color wheel, with the three primary colors of red, yellow, and blue, and the secondary colors of orange, purple, and green.

But—have you ever looked at a color printer cartridge and noticed that printers don’t use ink in red, yellow, and blue?

Most printed material, including books, newspapers, and magazines, are printed with a different color scheme. This class looks at how the visible light spectrum really works, and explores a new version of the color wheel that was invented over a hundred years ago, but is still mostly ignored by artists.

We’ll look at new ways to mix colors, and explore fresh ideas for building your own palette. I’m going to do my demonstrations in watercolor, but this works in any medium, including gouache, acrylic, or oil paints.

This class is available on Skillshare, and you can get 2 months free to take as many classes as you like with this link:

At Last–My Research Class is Here

Posted by on May 22, 2020 in Classes, Writing


The question I get asked most often is how I do my research. It’s a tricky question to answer–every book is different, every research question is different, every source is different.

But I did my best to boil it down into one half-hour class. Watch this class on Skillshare, and get 2 months free with this link:

Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, reported journalism, essays, or memoir, you’re probably going to have to do some amount of research.

We’ll look at how to use scientific and academic sources, and how to track down experts in any field. We’ll look at historical sources, like old newspapers and archives. We’ll talk about genealogical resources, like Census records and other public documents. I’ll show you how I conduct interviews, and when I hire expert help. I’ll tell you how to spot faulty information and keep it out of your work.

Finally, I’ll teach you to be a skeptic! How do you know what you know? How do you verify your facts?

Whatever kind of writing project you’re embarking on, this class will help you up your research game.

Learn All My Evernote Tricks!

Posted by on May 14, 2020 in Classes, Writing


I just posted a class on Skillshare about how I use Evernote to keep track of my research and to brainstorm ideas. Check the class out here, and use this link to get 2 months free on Evernote.

I get asked a lot about how I do my research. This is the first of a two-part answer. The first step is to come up with a tracking system, because without it, all that research gets lost. (I learned this the hard way!) I am devoted to Evernote and in this class, I walk you through exactly how I use it.

Evernote is also useful for anyone who teaches, or anyone who needs to organize projects that involve lots of bits and pieces. I talk about that, too, in this class.

Next week, I’ll post the next class, on how I actually DO research. Stay tuned for that!

Laid-Back Lettering

Posted by on April 20, 2020 in Classes, Paintings

If you want to add more artistic, colorful, dramatic lettering to your sketchbooks, journals, and artwork, but you don’t want to put in the hours it takes to really perfect a hand-lettering style, I made this class just for you!

I love all the beautiful brush pen and modern calligraphy styles I see all over Instagram, but filling out practice sheets and trying to learn upstrokes and downstrokes felt too much like work for me.

So I developed an approach to lettering that I could do without a ton of practice, using more or less my own handwriting and the art supplies I already carry with me.

In this class, I’ll show you how to work with pencil, pen, marker, and watercolor to create visually interesting letters using the same approach to drawing and painting you already use in your art.

I’ll work from examples of the styles I like to use, that fit my personality and my artwork, but I’ll also show you how to find the styles that work for your tastes and interests.

Use this link to watch the class, and to get 2 months free to enjoy everything Skillshare has to offer.

Painting Doors and Windows with Ink and Watercolor

Posted by on April 12, 2020 in Classes, Paintings

My new class is live on Skillshare! Go here to preview the class, and this link also gives you 2 months free on Skillshare, which is plenty of time to check out everything they have to offer.

One of my favorite subjects to paint is old painted doors. They have so much character and they really tell the story of the place.

There are a few challenges that are particular to drawing and painting doors, including:

  • Getting the proportions right
  • Conveying a sense of depth
  • Figuring out a way to depict faded paint and crumbling stone without overworking everything
  • Including just enough of the elements that surround the door without taking away from your main focus

In this class I’ll show you how I approach my paintings of doors.

We’ll go step by step, starting in pencil, then moving on to ink and finally watercolor. I also add a few highlights with white acrylic paint pens.

I’ll give you a few of my own photographs of doors for you to work from, but I hope you’ll go through your photographs from your own travels and paint a door that you fell in love with during your own travels.

Create Your Own Book Video

Posted by on April 2, 2020 in Classes, Writing

It’s here! I’ve created a step-by-step guide for authors who want to make high-quality videos about their books. The class is live on Skillshare now, and this link will give you two months’ free access to all the classes Skillshare has to offer.  

Also, because of the shutdown, I have made this class free and easily accessible on YouTube.  Please go here to watch the entire playlist.

As the author of over a dozen books, both fiction and nonfiction, I’ve found that book videos can be useful at every stage of the publishing process, including:

Pre-publication marketing meetings with the publisher
Press kits and media pitches
Marketing to bookstores and libraries
Lining up speaking engagements
Reaching readers and book clubs
Promoting backlist titles years after publication
Fortunately, the technology is so easy that anyone with an iPad or other tablet or smartphone can shoot a high-quality video, add photos or video footage, make simple edits, and publish to online platforms.

This class walks through every step of the process that I use to make videos to promote my books. I’ll show you all the equipment and free software I use, and walk you through every step of the process I use.

For those of you who have different equipment and software, I’ll suggest alternatives. The basic concepts are the same no matter what you use to make your video.

This class will also work for anyone who wants to make a talking head-style video interspersed with photos and video clips on any subject at all, but my examples are all going to be specific to book videos.

Ink Your Drink! A new class on painting cocktails

Posted by on March 26, 2020 in Classes, Cocktails, Paintings

NEW on Skillshare! I’m teaching the ink transfer technique I’ve been posting about lately on Instagram. To find out more about the class, and to get 2 months free on Skillshare, use this link. (And there are tons of great classes on Skillshare! I’m particularly fond of Jim Richard’s urban sketching class.)

To see all the classes I’m teaching on Skillshare, here’s a link that shows you all the classes and also gives you 2 free months.

I Went on a Sketching Trip to Mexico and I Took You With Me

Posted by on March 6, 2020 in Classes, Paintings


We just went to Mexico together! Well, almost. I took my iPad to Guanajuato, Mexico last week and filmed an online class on travel sketching–so you can watch it and it’s almost like being there!

I decided to focus on the two subjects that are easiest for beginners–building facades (meaning, looking straight on, no perspective skills required) and landscapes.

This class walks you through the process I use when I’m out and about sketching, and even shows you how I handle my materials when I’m out on the streets and want to make sure I don’t lose anything!

I’m teaching it on Skillshare, where I also teach writing courses. I love the format and ease of use of Skillshare, and I’ve learned a lot from taking art and tech classes there.

Go here to check out all my classes, and this link will also give you two months free access if you’d like to sign up.

Story Structure is a Thing We All Wrestle With

Posted by on January 31, 2020 in Classes, Fiction, Writing


My next Skillshare class is live and it’s on the beast we all struggle with, both fiction and nonfiction writers: story structure. There are lots of people out there peddling complex, intricate techniques for writing a hit novel or screenplay. Honestly, I get a little overwhelmed by all that stuff. So I made a class about the methods I actually use when I write my own books, and I encourage you to try these out, see if they work, and try some other approaches if they don’t! I include a resource list for further study at the end.

I’ve loved teaching these classes and I especially appreciate your comments, projects, questions, and reviews.

Use this link to get 2 months free on Skillshare, which is plenty of time to take lots of classes!


I’m Teaching Writing Classes on Skillshare

Posted by on January 13, 2020 in Classes, Writing

Big news for the new year!

I’m teaching a series of writing classes on Skillshare, which is an online teaching platform that works on a subscription model, like Netflix. The first two courses are live now, and you can get two months free through this link.

The people at Skillshare approached me about teaching a couple years ago, but I couldn’t get my head around the idea at the time. Then I took a class on the platform–Jim Richard’s class on sketching people–and do you know what I really liked about it?

I liked how SMALL the class was. Bite-sized lessons, each only five or ten minutes long, and many of the courses are only half an hour in total. Skillshare is about teaching one particular discreet skill, and then another, and then another.

That really appeals to me. I tend to think small: one page at a time, one drawing at a time, one event at a time–the way I keep from getting overwhelmed is to break everything down into really small, manageable bits.

That’s how I get books written. And now I’ve realized–that’s how I can teach, too.

Usually, when I teach a writing workshop, it lasts for two or three days (or two or three months!) and covers SO MUCH. But these classes are going to be different. They’re going to tackle one small building block at a time….just like I do every day.

So. The first two classes are very New Years Resolution-ish, and both of them try to answer the two most common problems I hear about from aspiring writers:

“I want to write a book, but I don’t know where to start.” This class, Start Your Book Today, is my answer to that.

What I also hear a lot is, “I wish I could write, but I’m just not disciplined enough.” Build Great Writing Habits will, I hope, put the “I’m not disciplined enough” myth to bed once and for all.

Next up will be some more concrete, nuts-and-bolts topics, from storytelling techniques to research methods to the revision process. It’s everything I do, one bit at a time.

And…people ask me a lot if I would teach a travel sketching class, so I’m going to give that a try when I’m in Mexico next month. Stay tuned!

Your reviews would mean a lot to me. If you’re already a Skillshare member, you can follow me here to be notified of new classes and updates. And if you’d like to sign up, two free months is more than enough time to check out my classes and anything else you might be interested in. I’d really appreciate it if you’d post a review, share your project, or put a comment in the discussion.

And stay tuned for more!