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I’m Calling Bullshit on the Whole Idea of Talent

I’m Calling Bullshit on the Whole Idea of Talent

  I can hear your objections already. But…child prodigies! I don’t know why some people are child prodigies and I don’t care. Child prodigies exist on one extreme end of a spectrum of what children are capable of doing. I wasn’t a child prodigy and neither were you, so let’s stop involving them in this conversation. But…neuroscience! I know. I get it. You have a vague idea that Science Says that some people’s brains are just...

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Your Sister Didn’t Take Art Away From You

Your Sister Didn’t Take Art Away From You

A couple months ago, I was sitting on a bench at the Atlanta Botanical Garden drawing pictures. A woman walked by and said, “Look at that! You’re so talented. I wish I could draw like that. I always wanted to.” “You can,” I said. “All you have to do is take some drawing lessons. That’s what I did.” “Oh, no,” she insisted. “I can’t. I don’t have the talent. My sister’s the artist.” I laughed, but I wanted to cry....

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“Did You Always Know…?” Here’s What’s Weird About That Childhood Question

“Did You Always Know…?”  Here’s What’s Weird About That Childhood Question

I get asked some version of this question a lot: “Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer, even when you were a little girl?” When I wrote a book about plants or bugs, it would be: “Did you love bugs or flowers or gardening when you were a child?” “Have you always loved to read?” “Did you draw and paint when you were little?” I’ve always thought this was a strange question. What...

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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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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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My Art Supplies

If you follow me on Instagram, you might’ve noticed that I’ve been posting a lot of sketches lately. Sketching is a delightful pastime that also happens to be highly portable, especially if you have a small and simple set of art supplies that can go with you everywhere. I get a lot of questions about what art supplies I use, so here’s the answer.  I’m including links to purchase online, but only because you can see a...

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Charity Auction for ProPublica

Charity Auction for ProPublica

Ah, technology! I’m holding an eBay auction right now for eight paintings of people reading, with 100% of the money going to the nonprofit ProPublica. But eBay’s having a glitch right now that is making it hard to browse the paintings online. (I actually got someone at eBay on the phone–they are perplexed and working on it) Meanwhile, I’m posting a link here to every painting. It’s a bit tedious to look at them this...

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Reading on the Street

Reading on the Street

Okay, he’s just looking at his phone, but he might be reading some very important investigative journalism from ProPublica. The sale of this and seven other paintings benefit them–go here to bid.   (Oh, and I’m pretty sure he knew how good he looked in those green pants with that red bag and that orange wall across the...

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