You will write this book. Oh yes, it contains my thoughts and knowledge, but I think you’ll find that the insights and affirmations that you note here will be of greater value and stay with you much longer than anything I say. I hope it helps you to record your revelations and keep then in one place where you can analyze and add to them over the course of your studies. Use it to hold your notes or slide in a few sketches, and get it dirty as you page through with pastel covered hands. Let it inspire you. This is not meant to be a treasure to hide on the shelf—it’s supposed to be well used as you work, applying the principles you find within.
As you use the book, please keep in mind that what I offer are general rules to help you better deal with the exceptions when they arise. By knowing what is as a rule true you may approach painting from a position of strength, utilizing skills rather than simply creating a happy accident. Those accidents may be fun but there’s nothing more frustrating than achieving a success and not being able to recreate it for lack of understanding.
Originally this book was conceived of as simply copies of my notes for the use of my students. It grew in concept to include illustrations, advice, and, I hope, inspiration. In this third edition I’ve tried to include more about each of the subjects demonstrated in my classes, as well as including new subject matter. You’ll also find a bit more of my personal beliefs and viewpoints on art and life flavoring things, and I hope stimulating your thoughts.
I’ve been blessed to be able to teach so many talented and willing students over the years. I find most of them have come into the classroom looking for information, inspiration, encouragement and companionship. Making art can be solitary and sometimes lonely, especially when we become too self-involved. Art is communication, at essence, so I believe the path should be a mutual experience, as well.
You were given an ability to see that can be enhanced using tools. In order to see better you might put on glasses; to see significantly more you use binoculars, a microscope or magnifying glass. Likewise you have a measure of artistic talent, which is simply the weight of ability given to you, but you want to develop that ability. I hope this book becomes a valuable tool to help you to see even more.
Knowledge needs to be exercised almost daily. It’s the everyday use of it that hones it into wisdom, since it’s through both repeated failure and success that we learn what works. Artistic tools are the exciting observations, technical applications, and repeatable ‘recipes’ that result in the means to make art. I hope what you find here is not merely formulaic but shares with you the pathway I’ve been on for some thirty years, helping you find the way to get started or to continue your studies, adding some local color along the way, and in the end, I hope, aiding you as you forge a trail of your own.