Short post today. I’m working through Alyson Stanfield’s I’d rather be in the studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion ISBN:9780974272580

A good companion to my dog-eared How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist by Caroll Michels ISBN:0805055045

I have Michels’ 4th edition 1997 and the Stanfield is 2008 so there is quite a bit more interweb data and ideas.

I know defining success for yourself is the only true success, but missed how important it actually is until reading Stanfield. Her first Action/assignment/task is Define Success for Yourself!



Practice makes perfect. Sounds good, but it needs to be perfect practice. Well what is that??

I have heard it advocated that one should ‘paint a picture a day’ and this will speed one to artisthood. Maybe this comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s observation that it takes about 10,000 hours to become a ‘Master’. Maybe it does, but standing over a canvas on the floor and drizzling paint out of a bucket for 10k hrs. will not make you Jackson Pollack, sorry. No it has to be 10k hrs. of actually doing something. Let’s stick with Pollack. There is a lot going on in a Pollack painting, and it isn’t jump out at you illustration. You have to “contribute” to a Pollack to get something out of it, whether it is the landscape, or the portrait, or the still life. And they didn’t get into the painting by just drizzling paint. Look up some of the videos of him at work, it’s work.

If you look at the larger body of some Old Master’s work, someone who’s left a lot of paintings, and sketches, and etchings, etc. you see that there are the same, or very similar, poses and figures. Here in Guido Cagnacci’s Death of Cleopatra he has used the same face and he is able to put the different emotions on it, not by chance surely.

There is no quick fix nor is quantity alone an answer. You won’t become a Master by turning out one piece of crap a day, but you will get better if you turn out one perfect hand/leg/arm/nose every drawing session. Discover, recover, uncover the basics of drawing a hand, foot, etc. and then do that, drill the basics. When it becomes your own it will not leave you.

Hugh MacLeod in a talk made 20 points about success here is what he says about mastery:

“17. In a word: MASTERY. They’ve MASTERED something. Something inte­res­ting and valua­ble. They are MASTERS of their craft. It may be an old-fashioned word that makes peo­ple uncom­for­ta­ble, but that’s only because it’s something that elu­des most people.

18. Though, having watched these mas­ters care­fully first-hand, I can honestly say MASTERY is more satisf­ying than money. If you’re up for it, yes, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN MONEY, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS.

19. And it’s por­ta­ble. It tra­vels with you, whe­re­ver you go. No land­lord, no boss, no reces­sion, no Wall Street analyst, no news­pa­per cri­tic can take it away. It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”

I like that last, “It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”

more from City Seens

27 – Ships Passing

Not a blink, not a nod, he was old and young, bold and drunk.
Not staggered, not swaggered he flowed, never slowed, on and on.
She was svelt and she smelled, sweet.
Her hair blond brown she wore it down, loose on her neck, over the shoulder.
As the sun set the vectors were pushing them toward each other.
He didn’t notice, no juice vibe to attract him.
She didn’t notice lost in her ipod, locked in her iphone texticulating at the twitterverse.
Close now half a block, he flows left she’s keeping right.
75 feet he flows right, she sees the store fronts she’s passing.
50 feet he stops, peering into the void, she looks ahead to the end of the block.
They come abreast, she sneezes a gentle puff into a dainty hanky; he gets a whiff of sweet and sags nearly clubbed to his knees by beauty.


My book is getting closer to completion.It’s a series of vignettes I make up around things I’ve seen on the subway, bus, train, street. Here is a sample.

25 – She Shifts
She brings on the full panoply of needed travel accessories for the proper corporate commuter. Hefting the gym bag in hand she shoulders on one side the urban sack purse, over the other shoulder a leather laptablet case. Finding her seat she stows the luggage below after retrieving the steel insulated coffee cup, ipod, and magazine – the New Yorker.
Not just the days end, but Friday’s end, start of the weekend.
What corporate responsibilities recede as the metro chariot proceeds towards home? Immersed in the magazine and earbuds she sheds the hectic pace of the advertishop, the fiscal tensions of the money machine, or the political shenanigans of the legislators staff. As she looks forward to shedding the suit, stockings, and intimates before immersing in the warm tub and a soothing glass of.


Did a bit of gallery hopping recently. Checkout Eileen Graham and Steve Memering.

What I like about Eileen is an etherial quality I get from her work, I feel she has a good sense of color, especially in the way she uses it to separate the figure from the ground, and I also like her surface. Were “Morning Reflection” not sold I might be tempted to negotiate.

Steve’s work struck me quite differently. For me there is strong dynamic, he has a well defined color sense, and his dragonfly-koi series will seriously mess with your spatial orientation.

Here is another bit of what I’ve been writing:

4 – Evan, Michelle, and Trina

They sat on the bench under the plexi & aluminum porch. White jeans, legs drawn up crossed Indian style. The one in the blue top flips through her CD case, she has to find the right soundtrack for bus waiting. The one in the white top is sketching, tall slender women. She wants to be a fashion designer. The boy stands at the end, he doesn’t think they know he’s watching them. The girls think it’s cute the way the boy watches them, thinking they don’t know he’s watching. He gets on the bus, but the girls are waiting for a different one. They talk about him when the bus pulls away.


On the subject of writing, which I admit to less experience than visuals, I’ll still insist on basics. However in this field beware of “instruction” that doesn’t stress just WRITING. You can’t learn to write by reading about it any more than you could learn to draw without sharping pencils because you’ve dulled them marking up paper. Also you can’t learn to write without reading – like a vacuum cleaner. In my opinion it almost doesn’t matter what you read, because you will start to see what is “good” and “bad” for yourself. In the field of writing there is as much room for diversity as in the visuals ie. James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Neal Stephenson, Tom Wolfe, William Shakespeare, Janet Evanovitch, Aeschylus, Norman Mailer, Nora Roberts, Dante Alighieri, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf; read, read, read.

And my I suggest for punctugrammaritorical style; “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.


Pictures are not the only things that come off my drawing table. Here’s a bit of something I’ve been working on for awhile. I think of them as cityscapes. Hope it is interesting.

19 – Coffee Shoppe OR Not a Starbucks

He was writing “The Great American Novel”, she was bored. They’d been sitting at the table in the coffee shop for nearly an hour. He was lost in his words, she just felt lost.

The tall man walked in and glanced at the couple at the table in passing. She was transfixed by the glimpse of his deep green eyes.

The man got coffee and a cookie then sat at a table across the shop so he could see the couple’s table. She looked over at the man and imagined the feel of his chest hair, the ripple of his abs as she grazed her hand down his body.

The man wondered why the couple was there, the guy obviously intent upon his writing, the girl lost. He looked at her blue eyes hoping there was more than vacuum behind them.

She looked at the man’s earring, a big ‘pirate’ hoop with a jewel suspended in it. She wished she could take his clothes off and inspect his body for tattoos and scars.

The man wondered if the girl thought she could be an actress, he had seen hundreds like her during his years in Hollywood. So few of them had even the slightest clue how much hard work ‘actressing’ was.

As the girl got up to go to the ladies room she dropped her napkin. She bent at the waist to pick it up and raised her head opening the gap between her blouse and her chest, but the man was fiddling with his cell phone and missed her little peep show. The man saw the girl drop her napkin and was glad she was bending to pick it up; then realized his phone was set to stun, which he never felt, so got it out to reset it.

The man finished his cookie, washed down with the last of the coffee. He saw a lot of interesting vignettes in coffee shops he adapted in his stories, but not today. He seldom actually wrote in the shops. The girl came back to the table where the guy was still scribbling away.

As the man left the girl’s eyes followed him out. She felt they might drag her along trailing after him. The man had an appointment and had killed some extra time in the coffee shop.