Summer of the Sketchbook

I often find it difficult to write in the summer. The warm weather brings with it a host of responsibilities, some enjoyable, others less so. Each of them draws me away from my dim office where I make my words. The cool glow of my laptop screen is replaced by the bright glare of the outside world. I find myself shuttling children to and from camps, tending gardens and trimming grass, battling back relentless weeds, nailing shingles or repointing brick, hanging up laundry, taking down laundry, and then finally at the end of the day succumbing to the self-justified reward of a comfortable chair and a cold beer. Vacations and backyard get-togethers, however pleasant, interrupt the rhythm of solitary reflection in which I cultivate my best writing.

In short, I’ve written almost nothing these past two months. Yet I have not been lost in a creative wasteland. I’ve been making art instead.

Drawing requires none of the contemplative withdrawal I need to write effectively. I can carry a sketchbook and pencil on all of my summertime adventures, and I need do nothing more than open it to be in the creative zone. I can draw for as long as opportunity permits, then close it up and move on. I might go back to it, or I might not. Because I draw for me and me alone, I don’t feel obligated to slavishly finish every drawing.

Of course not all of what I’ve drawn is superb. In fact some of it isn’t very good at all. But I thought, since I haven’t been making many words of late, I would share those images which I have. And I’ve even challenged myself to try something new, so browse on to see what it could be. (Viewing tip: click on each image to enlarge. To enter a gallery view and read my comments on each drawing, click on the pop-up caption.)

And Now For Something Only Slightly Different

For some time now I’ve had it in my mind that I should challenge myself, take on a new medium that will, with time and practice, take my work to the next level. That new medium is oil painting. Youtube artists like Andrew Tischler, Mark Carder and Robin Sealark (links below) have been both instructional and encouraging, and have given me the courage to finally take up my brush. Here then are my two first forays into the vast world of oil painting. I’ve started small, intimidated perhaps by those broad swathes of empty canvas. But I’m encouraged by the results, and will no doubt essay another attempt soon. (As before, click the image or caption as desired.)

So thanks for browsing. Let me know which of my drawings you liked the most, or which you’d like to see me finish the most! Hopefully I’ll have ample time for both art and writing in the not-too-distant future. Thanks for visiting!



Andrew Tischler makes breathtaking paintings and outstanding videos in the rugged beauty of Middle Earth… I mean, New Zealand. Check him out.

Mark Carder’s easygoing and informative style of teaching takes the mystery out of oil painting. Highly recommended.

Robin Sealark is a free spirit with a great sense of humour and an open, experimental style. Her videos are entertaining, instructional and inspirational all at the same time. Give both her and her alter-ego a visit!

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