This is the Wintertree sampler I worked on this weekend. I was doodling around, looking at photographs from my Winter on Long Island file, playing with ideas I wanted to try — I was looking for some stylized ways to paint trees with blue, grey, and white paint. I played with some pattern ideas and some negative space ideas that I thought might work in a high-design kind of concept. I was not trying to paint naturalistic trees — I was going for something that might work in a quasi-abstract, almost cartoonish way.
I hatched one or two techniques here that I might come back to, later, in a larger and more detailed scale.
I do this a lot, these systematic sketching exercises that I call samplers. This is how I’ve taught myself to illustrate, by working on certain aspects of a technique over and over until I find the way that feels best and works best for me. I spent about three hours working on this bunch of sketches — and while I’m not thrilled that I didn’t come away with a Eureka moment, at least I now know about six ways I do not want to paint a Winter tree.
And that’s not nothing.
I learned something else this weekend too:
I learned this week that Amazon has a new feature for authors who register on their website. Amazon (the on-line bookseller) will give you a map of the United States that shows where exactly your books are selling — how many are selling in New York, how many in Minnesota, how many in New Mexico, etc. They keep a running demographic, adding up your book sales for four weeks at a time, mapping your hot spots. So of course I registered and looked at my sales map.
Which leads me to this: I have to do something nice for Washington State. Although my book sells strongest in New York (home field advantage, I guess), my second-biggest book selling state is Washington State. And I’ve never even had a book event there, done face time at the local libraries, got a review in a local newspaper, or shmoozed in a Local Author panel (the way I make a nuisance of myself here on my home turf). But the Patron Saint of Readers, Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl, did recommend my book almost exactly a year ago and I guess that Seattle pays attention to what Nancy says! Thank you, Seattle!
So I think I owe Washington State a visit.
Let’s see if we can make something happen.
I’ve given my slide show in libraries, ladies clubs, historical societies, museums, colleges, book stores, private homes, and churches — I can go anywhere that has electricity. So, dear west coast readers, if you’re in Washington State (and by Washington State I guess I mean Seattle) let me know what’s a good venue for my hour-long workshop on art, life, and creativity. And I’ll see you there!