Category Archives: Guest Posts

Get a FREE 40 page guide to Plein Air painting

I am on Instagram ( and last night I was flicking through some of the artists that I follow there and came across a free offer from Lena Rivo. It looked interesting so I signed up for it and got the download. It is so good that I would now like to share it with you!

Here’s what she said about it on Instagram:
“On my recent trip to Northern Portugal, I collected so many small observations and thoughts about plein air painting that I decided to combine them in an E-book. So, upon my return, I created a new free 40-page PDF guide in which I share my approach to plein air painting, as well as my observations and tips that might be helpful for artists who are inspired by nature. On the last page of the guide you will find a link to a short film from the trip that inspired me to write this guide.

You can download the ebook at the link on my website:

This ebook is full of images, so hopefully it will be a fun read for you” 😊❤️

Hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Lena has other free booklets etc. on her website as well.

What a year it has been.

A nice little book to get you started with sketching 🙂

Aloft with Inspiration

A year ago yesterday I published the Kindle version of my book, Look at That! Discover the Joy of Seeing by Sketching.

Two days later, a year ago tomorrow, the paperback version became available.

In the last 12 months, 3,353 copies have sold worldwide through Amazon, and a smaller total (harder to calculate) have sold through private and online bookstores. It’s been a #1 Best Seller in 4 categories for several months in a row, and ranks in the current top 1% of all Kindle book sales.

Those of you who know me know how amazed and grateful I am. This book was little more than a hair-brained idea 18 months ago, a thorn in my side 13 months ago, and a great relief off my back 12 months ago.

This time last November I was more relieved than excited, I knew I’d done my best, and had no idea…

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What is Art?

This post was written by Seth Godin.   Seth’s blog.

Of course, it started with craft. The craft of making a bowl or a tool or anything that created function.  As humans became wealthier, we could seek out the artisan, the craftsperson who would add an element of panache and style to the tools we used. It’s not much of a leap from the beautiful functional object to one that has no function other than to be beautiful.

Art was born.

When art collided with royalty, religion and wealth, a match was made. Those in power could use art as a way to display their resources and to insist that they also were deserving of respect for their taste and their patronage of the artistic class.
And that would be the end of it, except the camera and commercial printing changed the very nature of art on canvas (and mass production changed sculpture). When anyone could have a print, or a vase, or a photo, art’s position as a signifier and a cultural force was threatened.
Hence the beginning of our modern definition of art, one that so many people are resistant to. Art doesn’t mean painting, art doesn’t mean realistic and art doesn’t mean beautiful.

FountainMarcel Duchamp created a ruckus with ‘Fountain’, which appeared in an art exhibit in 1917.  An upside-down urinal, Duchamp was saying quite a bit by displaying it. The second person to put a urinal into a museum, though, was merely a plumber.

About forty years later, Yves Klein created ‘Leap Into the Void.’ Long before Photoshop, he was playing with our expectations and our sense of reality.

Leap into the VoidBetween Duchamp and Klein there were two generations of a redefinition of art. Art doesn’t mean craft. And art isn’t reserved for a few.

Art is the work of a human, an individual seeking to make a statement, to cause a reaction, to connect. Art is something new, every time, and art might not work, precisely because it’s new, because it’s human and because it seeks to connect.

Once art is freed from the canvas and the dealer and the gallery, it gains enormous power. Politicians and science fiction authors can do a sort of art. Anyone liberated from the assembly line and given a job where at least part of the time they decide, “what’s next,” has been given a charter to do art, to explore and discover and to create an impact.
When I write about making ‘art’, many people look at me quizzically. They don’t understand how to make the conceptual leap from a job where we are told what to do to a life where we decide what to do–and seek to do something that connects, that makes an impact, and that yes, might not work.

Five hundred years ago, no painter would talk to you about ideas, or even impact. Painters merely painted. Today, you don’t need a brush to be an artist, but you do need to want to make change.

What do you think? What is Art?

Painting the Figure with Annette Raff

Annette RaffFor the past fifteen years Annette has been teaching watercolour painting and has helped others discover this wonderful medium. Annette’s paintings are displayed in private collections throughout Australia and Europe. She has won many awards and has been feature Artist in Australian Artist Magazine. She paints a variety of subject matter, her main focus being to capture the play of light and shadow, eliminating all unnecessary detail to reveal the essence of her subject.

portrait 1She says, “There is nothing like the exhilaration I feel when watching intense pigments merge and flow across wet paper! I see beauty in the every day things around me and I paint them. The way the light falls across a surface or the colorful shadow patterns are more important then the subject itself. Simplicity and strong design is what makes a watercolor painting successful for me.”

portrait 2I have asked Annette if she will write a course on ‘Painting the Figure’ for and we look forward to developing this in the near future. Would you be interested?

Check out Annette’s work on her gallery.GirlinCafe

Why do we stop drawing?

Isaac drawingWe’ve got our friends with their four young children staying with us at the moment, and when I got up this morning I couldn’t get any breakfast for a while because they were all drawing and colouring in on the dining room table. Children love to draw and paint and their creativity is unlimited. But as adults we get scared of putting pencil to paper, and say “I can’t even draw a stick man!”

So why and when does this love of drawing fade out of our lives?

Is it when we are told in school that we are no good at art? Or do we loose our drawing inhibitions during our teenage years when we try to become just like all our friends? Or are we afraid of what other people will say about our pictures?

Whatever the reason is, it often takes a long time for adults to begin to paint again, or even to get get the desire to paint in the first place. But with gentle encouragement and a few helpful tips, we can all recover the joy of creating a painting, just like when we were young.