What’s New

Urban Sketching in New York City!

 

My new art class is live on Skillshare now. Use this link to check out the class and get a free trial to explore everything they have to offer.

You can also take this class on Udemy as a bundle with two of my other travel sketching classes! Go here to check that out.

Do you love New York? So do I! It’s my favorite spot for urban sketching, travel sketching, and kind of exploring and art-making.

In this class, we’re going to focus on the one skill you really need to paint a city like New York: Perspective.

We’ll use Manhattan for our laboratory to look at the fundamentals of perspective.

We’ll work out how to identify your horizon line and your vanishing point.

We’ll see how all the lines in an image converge to that vanishing point.

We’ll start a drawing by putting down some perspective lines to help guide us.

And then, with those guidelines in place, I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can create an accurate drawing.

When you get this piece right, you can be really free and loose with your drawing and painting.

This is easy to learn and fun to practice. Join me!

In 1918, We Collected Peach Pits for Gas Masks

 

I’ve been talking to a lot of book clubs lately (y’all are figuring out Zoom! Yay!), and something that keeps coming up are all those weird bits of research that either don’t make it into the books at all, or that end up in the book as one tossed-off line, when really there’s a whole crazy story to tell.

So here’s one of those crazy stories, in collage form: during WWI, we collected peach pits to use as charcoal filters in gas masks for our soldiers fighting overseas. The government paid farmers $7.50 a ton for any peach pits they could load on a train. “It is urged as a patriotic duty that all farmers turn in every available peach pit,” this article reads.

But it wasn’t just farmers–we were all expected to save our peach pits, apricot pits, and walnut shells to be made into gas mask filters. It was a service activity that kids could do–they’d go door-to-door with wagons and collect from neighbors, or set up outside a market with buckets to collect whatever fruit pits people could donate.

“The Army Wants Your Peach Pits,” read headlines nationwide in August 1918. This was precisely when the fighting in France was at its worst. The pits went to a factory in San Francisco, where they were made into carbon filters. It took 200 pits to make a single carbon filter for a soldier to survive one gas attack.

Anybody dreaming of Italy?

 

Ah, Italy! I was there exactly one year ago, and I wish I was there right now! At least we can dream.

My new Skillshare class is all about simplifying a classic Italian village scene. Go here to preview the class and get a free trial on Skillshare, which is more than enough time to travel the world (virtually, anyway) and improve your sketchbook skills! Skillshare is a Netflix-style subscription site for online classes.

You can also take this class on Udemy, where you just pay for the class you want to take. I’ve bundled this one with two other travel sketching classes. Go here to check that out.

First, we’ll focus on getting the major shapes in place by measuring how they fit into the frame and how they fit next to each other.

Second, we’re going to use wet-into-wet watercolor techniques to capture the feeling of stone and tile without actually drawing every single stone and every single tile.

Third, we’re going to use wet over dry techniques to add in shadows and a few bright colors and other details.

The idea is to get the major shapes and the light and shadows right, and then to simplify everything else.

Learn these simple tricks, and you can paint all of Italy with a pen, watercolor, and a sketchbook.  Just be sure to bring me along!

How to Paint a Chicken

My new Skillshare class is called How to Paint a Chicken. Guess what it’s about???

For about ten years I raised chickens in my backyard. I can tell you from experience that chickens are wonderful subjects to paint!

My style is to paint them against a simple, neutral backdrop, as if they are sitting for a formal portrait. With this style they look almost like members of the family, and you can capture their unique personalities. (Yes, chickens have personalities!)

In this class I demonstrate four chicken portraits using ink, watercolor, and gouache. You can do all four in either watercolor or gouache, or try both.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

How to take good photographs of chickens (or other birds!)

How to quickly sketch in the features by measuring proportions

How to mix colors so that you’re showing light and shadow

How to use brushstrokes to suggest feather patterns

How to mix a neutral background and make sure it blends with the rest of your portrait.

This is all about making quick, simple, charming portraits. And of course, if you’d like to paint another type of bird, please do! Ducks, geese, parrots—everyone’s welcome!

This class is happening on Skillshare now! Sign up with this link and get 2 months free: https://skl.sh/3gyfU0r

Come sketch with me in a French village!

 

OK, we’re not actually GOING to France. But you can practice being in France with your sketchbook!

Take this class on Skillshare, which is a Netflix-style subscription platform for online classes. Get a free trial with this link: https://skl.sh/3hXKhyN

You can also take this class on Udemy, where you just pay for the classes you want to take. I’ve bundled this one with two other travel sketching classes and you can see it on Udemy here.

Join me on a travel sketching adventure in the beautiful village of Cambos-Les-Bains, France! We’re going to paint a scene that addresses one of the biggest challenges of travel sketching: how to give a scene depth, so that you feel that you’re stepping into the picture.

You’ll learn how to handle perspective in a scene like this, where the road is winding and sloping.

You’ll also try different types of lines to make these buildings feel real—even when we’re just doing a quick travel sketch.

Finally, you’ll see how to use strong light and strong shadows to give the scene depth and capture a particular moment in time.

I’ll share my photos for you to work with, or you’re welcome to try out these techniques on photos from your own travels!

Rewrite, Revise, Revisit: A Guide to Editing Your Book

 

Have you finished a first draft? Congratulations! Now the fun begins.

Every writer knows that editing is the most important part of the writing process. This is where all the really important, meaningful work happens.

It’s where you have the most control, and the ability to really carry out your intentions and make this into the kind of book you set out to write in the first place.

In this class I’m going to give you a toolbox for approaching every edit, and every revision, of your book, including:

  • What you can do in the early stages of editing
  • What’s better to leave for the final stages
  • How to handle the edits you get back from your editor
  • What happens in the copyediting and proofreading stages

This class is for anyone who has finished a first draft, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, memoir, an essay collection, a how-to guide—no matter what kind of book you’re writing, a top-notch edit will get it ready for publication.

You can take this class now on Skillshare, which is a Netflix-style platform for online classes. This link gives you a free trial.

This class pairs well with Write Your First Draft.

You can also take my writing classes on Udemy, where you pay per class for only the classes you want to take. I’ve bundled this class with another course of mine, Write Your First Draft, and renamed the whole package Finish Your Book. You can take them both together for one affordable price. Go here to check that out.

Are you ready to write your first draft?

Are you ready to start writing your book?

The act of sitting down in front of a blank page takes a certain amount of courage.

It’s a long road with plenty of uncertainty ahead. But you can make a plan to get it done.

This class is for anyone beginning a new book project, whether it’s your first book or your fourteenth, and whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction.

I’m going to show you what I do to write a well-structured, well-thought out, and well-written first draft—and all of these techniques work just as well for rewrites. So even if you already have a first draft, or even just a half-start at a new book, and you’re realizing that what you need to do is to start over and approach it from a new direction, using everything you learned in those early attempts—this class is for you.

You can take this class now on Skillshare, which is a Netflix-style platform for online classes. This link gives you a free trial.

You might also like the next class in this series: Rewrite, Revise, Revisit.

You can also take my writing classes on Udemy, where you pay per class for only the classes you want to take. I’ve bundled Write Your First Draft with my class on revision, and renamed the whole package Finish Your Book. You can take them both together for one affordable price. Go here to check that out.

How do you mix colors?

 

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: https://skl.sh/2TMN2bv

At Last–My Research Class is Here

 

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!

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.

You can take this class now on Skillshare, which is a Netflix-style platform for online classes. This link gives you a free trial.

I recommend taking this class along with Organize Your Research in Evernote.

You can also take my writing classes on Udemy, where you pay per class for only the classes you want to take. I’ve bundled this class with my class on using Evernote to keep track of research. Go here to check that out.

Learn All My Evernote Tricks!

 

If you’re about to dive into a big research project, whether it’s for a book, a dissertation, or some other kind of writing project, you’ll be so much better off if you set up a good system for organizing it all before you jump in.

This class will teach you how to keep track of all your research in Evernote. Writers can also use Evernote to brainstorm book ideas, organize a plot, and keep track of ideas for other professional projects, like teaching workshops.

You can take this class now on Skillshare, which is a Netflix-style platform for online classes. This link gives you a free trial.

I recommend taking this class along with Research: A Step-by-Step Guide for Authors.

You can also take my writing classes on Udemy, where you pay per class for only the classes you want to take. I’ve bundled this class with my class on doing research. Go here to check that out.