Yes, it’s been terribly long since I posted to this blog! Sincere apologies for the absence. I am fine, my family is fine. So where have I been? The answer is WRITING A BOOK! Yes, it will be my third book, and it is HUGE. I can’t go into details yet, but just know that I stopped my day job and teaching back in April to get it up and running. More on this in the future, and on to the business at hand…
Yes, tragically, the center of our creative and arts community, the Daniel Smith Store and mothership is closing. It has been closed throughout the pandemic, although I’m happy to report that they retained ALL their full-time staff by moving them from sales to paint production, which is BOOMING. They are now the top seller of paint in the world! But I have many memories from this place and the wonderful staff who became friends…book signing opportunities, workshops from amazing people from around the globe, not to mention the beautiful, tall, sunlit space with aisles to explore and tools that you could actually hold in your hand and even test before you bought them. Gone are those days. But here are two ways to say THANK YOU for all they have done for us over the years.
If you are from this area, consider this is an invitation to say THANKS to phenomenal Daniel Smith store staff: Join Seattle Urban Sketchers this Sunday, September 5 from 10am-1pm for an opportunity to sketch the store!!! Yes, inside or out, wearing masks.
2. Post your sketch on Instagram, or any sketch or photo you have–maybe of a workshop you took–and story you’d like to tell, or even just say “Thank you” and then tag #thankyoudanielsmithstoreseattle so that the staff can read all the stories and know how much they are appreciated.
And as for my sketches, I’ve done a few and will go back in time and post a few…like the day it was 108 degrees out and I was sleeping on the basement floor…? Hope everyone is well.
PS, I’ll be personally signing copies of my 101 Sketching Tips book there on Sunday!
Saying this is a dream come true is an understatement. Four years ago yesterday, June 15, 2016, this little book was officially released.
This particular adventure started in 2015 when I saw Gabi Campanario at one of our Seattle Urban Sketchers meet ups. He was standing near me, and I thought to thank him for including my work in his books, the first two in the Handbook series. What an honor it was, I couldn’t believe it!!! Surprisingly, he looked at me and said, “What about you? You should write a book. Do you want me to put you in touch with my editor?” Literally picking my jaw off the floor, I mumbled, “Sure,” but the voice in my head was screaming, “WHAT did he just say????” Of course, the humble and generous Gabi was true to his word, and very shortly after, he connected me with his editor, Mary Ann Hall at Quarry Books/Quarto publishers.
Mary Ann said I should write up a short proposal with a description, stating how this book would be different from others on the market. Having bought every drawing book on perspective known to mankind, I knew that all the books were focused on studio perspective, that is, something like boxes on a table top — useless if you want to sit on a street and sketch. That was what my book would talk about, bridging the conceptual world of studio perspective with the “what the heck do I do when I want to sketch on location” world. I had been teaching perspective sketching in college for decades, but had just started teaching workshops in Seattle. I knew perspective in and out from my work as an architectural illustrator and my background as an architect. The proposal poured out of me in only a few minutes, and I sent it off. BOOM. It was approved, and before I could catch my breath, I was writing a book!
I knew what I wanted the book to say. I had come up with my own original concepts for teaching, things like “starting with the shape of the face or space”, or ignoring the term “horizon line” and instead using your “eye-level line” (it’s much more relevant to sketching on location.) I had never seen anyone else use these and other terms in the way I talked about them. The hard part was finding the sketches that would illustrate the teaching points. I combed the internet, looking at the work of my hero sketchers, friends, but also finding new folks I hadn’t seen in other books. It was a herculean task to coordinate it all. I’m so incredibly grateful that so many talented artists and architects from around the world were willing to share their work, for nothing but a copy from the publisher and an opportunity.
As I wrote the text, I laid everything out in InDesign for my own understanding, as I had to see how the parts would all go together…the right text with the right sketch, the diagrams in the right order, the right adjacencies and notes. We went through lots of rounds of edits, and I probably was too ambitious in trying to pack so much information into one small book. There was just too much I wanted to say!
Months later, it’s June 15, 2016 and I’m signing copies of the book at the Seattle-based Daniel Smith store. Such a surreal moment, I cannot tell you. I’ve since been sent photos of this book on sale at the Art Museum in Sydney Australia, the Tate Modern in London, the Uffizi in Florence (I went and found them there as well, snuck the copies into a corner, signed them, and put them back on the shelf), and even the Louvre bookstore in Paris, in French. Crazy. Blew my mind to see to see it on Amazon ranked next to the books by my hero authors that I had used in architecture school.
The title, Understanding Perspective, came from Mary Ann Hall, and it was perfect.
I picked the cover image for two reasons: one, everyone loves Paris! Two, it was done during the first few days of my time in Paris with the Gabriel Prize fellowship, so it means a lot to me personally. I hoped it would bring good luck!
The image on the back cover is by Gabi and is a view of the Seattle waterfront (our common home town) and the viaduct, that I knew would be gone a few years later. It’s my nod to thank him.
Let me also say that there is very little money in writing a book, even one that sells well. It’s much more about sharing knowledge and experience, sharing my perspective on perspective (yes, I did just write that), and creating something that will likely outlive me. Hopefully my children and grandchildren can look to it one day and feel proud. My dad had always told me I should write a book (I think he imagined a NYT bestseller 😉 and the opportunity to write this book came just after he passed away. I hope he is somewhere, smiling… as for me, I’m still living the dream and am grateful every day.