What supplies do you really need to start making art? Can you learn and make art a part of your life without spending a lot of time and money? Danny and John tell you how you can and why you should.
Also includes some stories about alligator attacks, melting gold in a microwave, and other thrilling creative adventures.
From Season 3 of "art for all," the Sketchbook Skool podcast. Join artists/authors, Danny Gregory and John Muir Laws in rich discussions about the creative process.
Write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get your free ebook and essays at DannysEssays.com
Hi there and welcome to art for all the sketchbook skool podcast. I am Danny Gregory and I'm the founder of sketchbook skool and I am a writer and an artist, and I'm also friends with John Muir laws who is going to now introduce himself. Hey everybody, I'm John Muir laws. I am a curious naturalist with a sketchbook, uh, at my fingertips. Interesting. I'm always, I always admire your creativity and coming up with new ways of, of describing yourself. Good, multiple. Excellent Goodwill. I'm glad that this, this version of it is here today. Uh, yeah. Um, yeah, we are happy to be here. Well, welcome. All of you, all the multitudes that your body contains. I contain multitudes there's this and that, that, that Whitman. I know. I feel like we talk about that quite a lot. I think it's, it's a, it is a recurring motif, our schizophrenia. Um, well, it's true. I mean, we're writers, we're artists, we're other things. We're dads, we're west coasters, we're all kinds of stuff. So speaking of coasting, I was, um, I was in Florida until yesterday morning, actually went on a plane to see a Manatee. Now I saw a dolphin that saw a Slav and I saw. How was this in, in some sort of some sort of a, a nature center or, or zoo? Yeah, it was in, um, it was in a cocktail reception. What was the sloths drinking? He was, he was asleep. He had been overserved clearly. So embarrassing when you're yeah, he was draped on some woman's neck as they will. And he was, and, uh, but I'll tell you, he was a babe magnet. There were women lining up to KU and OU and R over him. Something about sloths. I don't know. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. The, uh, the sloths are also a naturalist magnet. Um, I, I would be all over that even as just napping the, um, I mean, what a. Uh, what a fascinating, fascinating little creature, and also to just the whole style of going so slow and it works. Yeah. Like why haven't they been away when they've been eaten by faster? Yeah, the whole slot plan. It actually works. It's crazy. And then they get to go to cocktail parties and the, and then they look kind of like a backpack made out of like a carpet remnant. Honestly, it's not an attractive animal. And, uh, has those long claws, I don't know. I'm not that into it. I mean, I know that's probably a controversial thing to say, but I found it mildly repulsive. Uh, well then perhaps the w I guess maybe the slots, not for everybody. Um, but I'll, I'll tell you, my two daughters there is, they are so into slots. Um, they've got multiple slots, stuffies. Anytime, if you show up with a slot sticker, your dad hero for the day, the, uh, when you're, when you're, when they, uh, if you ever get to sketch one, you know, if they will be, they'll be doing like, this will be a 15 minute pose. So it's true. They are natural born models. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. They are, um, So that's probably why there are so many, like there's a disproportionate number, a matter of representation in cartoons and toys and stuff like that because artists have always found them easy to deal with compared to cheetahs, right. Or, you know, flies. So anyway, the McCall I thought was much more striking and the dolphins were, there was, there were like 30 of them in this sort of body of water and they were kind of swarming around and that sort of interesting. Yeah. That's that's cool. So these, these were wild dolphins, not some dolphins in a dolphin show. These were adults doing dolphin things sitting in a dolphin place? No, I think they weren't a dolphin show. They were, there was a woman in a wetsuit with a bucket of fish. Yeah. They were, they were, they were very team I'm. Sure. Okay. Yeah. So, you know, it was the whole thing was. I was there for the cocktails, but yeah, it was, it was, it's not the way I like my nature. Honestly, I like it in my backyard. I like it. I like it. Natural and free. Um, yeah, I agree with you that, although I will take a slot any chance I can get, it was in keeping with the fact that it was Florida, Florida has a certain quality to it, to key Orlando where I was Orlando is basically like extruded polyethylene. The whole city is made up of artifice and, um, designed for your pleasure. Thank you for your child. I have not been there. What brought you to, to. American airlines. I was there because I was at a thing called NAMTA, which I can never remember exactly what it stands for, but it's basically the huge art supply and craft supply conference convention, where all the manufacturers who make, um, art products or come and show their wares. And then, um, people who own our art stores, common pie and sharp. So it's not for the public, but it is, there were easily a thousand people there. So it was a really big thing in this enormous, enormous convention center. And there were just like every conceivable brush and pen and tube of paint and new kinds of weird things. And it was really, it wasn't. The, uh, I think that, that, that, that would be an amazing place to get a chance to, to pick up new toys to play with. But it would also be, I think very dangerous because I already have this box of art supplies that I don't use in my closet. And there's the stuff that I use all the time. And then there's the stuff that, at some point I thought that this would be a good idea. And then it goes into that box. Uh, there, there might be some things that they are Janiece doesn't need showing up at that show. What was one was one, something that you looked at that you thought like, okay, this is really useful. Um, let me see. There were just a lot of things. So there were like a really squishy brush pens that I like. There were, um, there was a whole line of markers that are called mild markers. So they're very, they're not pastels, but they're like very light colored. Um, there was a thing that is that I've sort of seen before, but now I saw it more in person, which is these pan pastels. I don't know if you've ever seen those Panther styles. Yeah. So imagine like, um, it almost looks like makeup. So if you imagine like, um, round disks of makeup in like eye shadow and things like that, but, and then it comes with. Makeup sort of like sponges and sponges on sticks that are like almost like little brushes. And so you can apply it, but it's not, it's much flatter than regular pastels, so you can do it in a book and it won't get everywhere, but also you can compete with them and you can have like a huge palette of lots of them. So they're not in sticks, they're in these pans. So they're, um, and they're great to layer stuff on top of just, I I'm looking forward to trying some out, seeing what they're like. Um, we worked with one artist who used them a couple of years ago and, um, they were pretty cool and she did call things with them. So that was like a new form that I thought it was interesting. Um, I saw a lot of like new lines of products, you know, where it'd be like here's 15 different kinds of sketchbooks or, and a lot of them aren't necessarily hugely differentiated. Um, There's a big trend right now is metallic watercolors. So, um, so golds and bronzes and silvers and things like that. But they're watercolors, that's pretty cool clicky for urban sketching. And then I saw a thing that has been around for a while, but I've never tried it out, which is water based oil paint. So it's oil paint, but instead of having to use turpentine, you can use water with it, which is kind of interesting. That ends. Yes. So then it has the long drawing time. I dunno, I guess you can, I guess it's probably workable the way oil paint is, you know, but it's yeah. It's not like acrylic where it two minutes. It's it's solid and you can't use it. Right because, you know, oil paint, have you ever been with oil paint? Um, I got to play with a little bit of my, my, my grandmother's oil paints and I made a big mess. Um, but yeah, they, they, you put them on wet and then you come back later and it's still wet and you can move it around and you can kind of, yeah, you can move it around. And that's like, that's very much what oil painting seems to be about. It's like, it's not about layering the way watercolors is. It's about, you know, so yeah, it's a different approach. It's been a while since I've done that kind of painting, painting on canvas never really loved it. You know, it was felt it was held to like, here's a canvas, you know, w you know, that's just the form of it felt too important to me. Yeah. Some of the things I've seen. Th that made me kind of sit up and go, Ooh. Um, people who have these little sets of, um, kind of like sort of squares of Mesa night that somebody had, uh, saw a person who had these, this little kind of Mason I boar board holder, and you could sort of slide his, uh, these, these boards into it. You'd pull one out. It was already just sewed and then he would paint on it and then he could drop it back into this holder and then he could kind of head on down a trail with it and it allowed him to do, um, sort of, uh, and these were a small format and essentially do oil sketches. So like plan, air, it sounds like a plain air kind of thing. So yeah. Yeah, no that, I mean, it's just a whole other world of doing stuff. I don't dunno. I just never, ever thought that anything I did was good enough to warrant that kind of important. So, um, I like disposable. I remember when I, some point I thought I was sort of supposed to do that. If I'm going to be an artist, I'm supposed to do things on campus. And I got myself some canvases and, um, somebody had given me this giant easel box that had legs that folded out underneath it. Right. And so it was like, I looked like a painter, so I got a bunch of paints. And I went out as I was, uh, uh, working a summer in grand Teton national park, and I'd bring this thing out. I would set it up and I would kind of put the paint down and, um, yeah, it, it felt like. A big production. It was not something that I could, um, I really liked the, sort of the, the impromptu nature of like, oh, well, here's, here's this, this moment that I've, I've stumbled across. And then I pull out my journal and boop, boop, boop can drop it down into there. Um, this, this, this it's just sort of had the, it sort of felt like it was very much about the event of, I am now doing a painting, um, as, uh, instead of the event of I'm in grand Teton national park. And there is a, a wonder of beauty before me, and I'm kind of connecting with that. It felt for me, it felt more about, I was very, I think self-conscious of the fact that I am, I am now. I am now painting with this. Set up and then it didn't really come out very well. And then I felt bad about that because I had this whole contraption and, um, that, that felt like it, you know, it should lead to this, this, this aesthetically, um, and this an aesthetically beautiful product at the end. Um, and that didn't happen. And, uh, that made me felt bad. So then that went back in the closet and eventually it was the whole system was given to a friend who actually does do that stuff. And, um, so passed that on to somebody who I think could use it. But yeah, I think, I think if you, if you go into public into the public and you have a really elaborate setup like that, Expectation is going to be pretty high. If you just pop open a sketchbook and each kind of just draw something quickly, it's only looks over your shoulder. You can always go like, yeah, I'm just kind of doodling. But if you come and you've got folding stalls and tables and elaborate easels and you setting up a whole thing, and then what you do is completely amateurish and lame. Yeah. It's not, it's not going to go well. Yeah. And in this case there, there's nobody looking over my shoulder, but I think my inner critic kind of looked out there and kind of assess the situation. And, um, yeah, I, I, I had a hard time in the face of that inner critic. So, um, there was a guy who had a booth at this show who made the most beautiful easels and. Like easel table things out of like zebra, wooden, mahogany. And you could have like your personal scene carved into the back of it really elaborate things like ma beautiful, so beautiful that you can't be afraid to get paint on it honestly, but, and they had like the little dials that you would use to tighten things up were all made out of like hand-carved wood tubes and it was gorgeous. But again, yeah, give me a pencil. Well, I could imagine that, you know, in S 4, 4, 4, there's something that's wonderful. There's so many different kinds of people in this world and everybody's kind of got their own thing. That's not the, uh, I can imagine that for, for some people actually having an artisan crafted tool, that would feel more right for them, that would feel, uh, Kind of like part of the ritual of getting ready to, to, to do this and to engage with it. I guess it's true for us, it would be the equivalent of having like a really, um, elaborately bound, sketchbook, right. Rock and leather with, you know, vellum pages and golden ribbon and those kinds of things. It might be nice in certain situations might be like a pretty cool thing to have. But I dunno, which reminds me, I wanted to read an email that we got from one of our folks. One of our, one of the people who listen, somebody who wrote two email@example.com, Marin Sherri are, I think that's how you pronounce it. Um, and he says that he, maybe he, I'm not even sure if it's he or she, I'm sorry. Um, They say that they enjoyed our previous episode about art supplies. They would be interested to hear about beginner, art supplies. More specifically, if you could go back in time, what collection of arts supplies would you curate for your beginner self? What I imagine is what art supplies I would introduce to my potential future kid for myself, my ideal beginner, art supplies would be something that's good enough that you understand how the medium is supposed to work. But, and more importantly, for me also cheap enough that you don't hesitate to make art with it. I find that I rarely use my more expensive art supplies because in my mind, if I'm not creating a brilliant finished piece with it, then I'm wasting it. Yeah. I, um, I went was given a, a journal that was such. Work of art that I felt I had a hard time using it because I did feel like there was something that was supposed to happen kind of like that, that easel in the Tetons there's there's, there was an expectation of, I have to be good enough to, to use this thing. Um, and that sort of trick of my mind, I think made me do a little bit less work. Yeah. I think people have that though, even with a $10 sketchbook, you know, people will just say, oh, I own all these sketchbooks. And I just don't want to ruin them by making art in them. Maybe that's what we have to talk about. Because when I started to draw, I used a pen that I'd taken from the supply closet in my office. And, uh, some people from the Xerox machine that I folded in half. And then eventually I bought like a, I think it was like, uh, one of those black cans, sawn, sketchbooks, you know, that costs like anywhere from five to $10. Um, and that's, and I knew that they weren't good, but they very much allowed me to not get invested in it and to feel like it's, um, it's okay to do this. It's, you know, I'm not taking myself too seriously and that is, that's how I began, you know, and I think, I certainly think that starting with a ballpoint pen. And we have artists, teachers sketchbook skool. Yeah. You've got one in your hand. We have people that are teachers at Sketchbook Skool who do incredible things with ballpoint pants. There's no, you can be a professional artist and sell your art using just simple ballpoint pens. Um, so what were, how did you, what did you begin? Did you, is this stuff that you did, you start as a child and therefore you did put children do? Yeah. Um, my, my first, uh, my, my first sketchbook, my first journal was, um, because my, my, my mom had observed me on one of our family field trips. So one of her friends came along who was a, who likes to sketch in nature and. Uh, Nila walked around this, this, this meadow where we're on, uh, doing this family field trip and she would sit down and she would draw the flowers. And I was absolutely fascinated by this and everywhere she went, I would just, I was her shadow that day. And my mom noticed that I was really interested in watching her draw. So she got the same kind of sketchbook that Neela had in the same set of art tools and gave that to me as a present. The next time we were out having an adventure. And, um, that before that everything had just been on, um, on, uh, on loose sheets of paper that were, had been discarded from an office. So they all had typing on one side and the, uh, the other side was for me to draw. But then I had this, this, this, this book that first one was spiral bound. Um, but then I moved into hard bound books and it was also the ones that you described, like those Canson black hard bound books. And, you know, they have really stood the test of time. They've done a great job of just kind of taking a licking over the years. And some of them I've had to support the binding a little bit with some duct tape, but, um, they have, the paper is often pretty lousy in those things for certain. I mean, certainly you can't use wet media on them, even markers. I always remember them bleeding through, so they're not, they're not great. I never loved them. Yeah. Oh, well the, um, there's that kind of the, what I learned to do is to, to, to appreciate the aesthetic of a book that when it's done. Um, cause I would do watercolor on the pages of those. And so the page of course would become wobbly. And then, then the book kind of pushes itself open. So it doesn't lie flat on a table. It's all those pages are kind of walking and, and, um, I, I just decided to myself that, you know, I kind of liked that aesthetic, that like there's like so many little adventures hidden inside this book that the book is pushing itself open. And, um, so I just learned to like the wobbling page, take watercolor on one side of the page and watercolor on the other side of the page and it wasn't bleeding through. Um, so I do think that those are they're there they're there they're low cost. They're available in a lot of places. They hold up well, and. You get enough pages in a sketch book that you, um, you, you can go on a lot of adventurous with them. Sometimes if you have like a book of watercolor paper, there's only, there's so few sheets in it that you fill up that book halfway through your adventure. That's interesting point. I mean, I, uh, I feel like I have, I don't know, I've gone through, I've gone through lots of different types of sketchbooks that I've liked. Um, and I tend to just them get loyal to one thing and that lasts me for a couple years, and then I find something new and switch. Um, and there definitely a few brands. I mean, the one that I happen to like a lot and like most consistently for the longest time, it was pretty expensive. And, um, But I always, I could always rationalize it by saying I'm going to work in this thing for months, even if it is quite expensive, it's expensive and initial investment, but then we use it a lot because I think you can also say to yourself, you know what, rather than thinking, this is too expensive to use, you should think this is too expensive not to use. Ah, right. I just put all this money into this thing. I better use it. What the hell? Why am I saying it? Right. So, so if it's 35 bucks for a really good sketchbook, which is a lot of money for sketchbook, I'm fully cognizant of that, but I drawing it and fill it with amazing stuff. And I learned a huge amount out of it and maybe it's worth it. But I think as you say, we could do the same with the Canson. You could do the same with one of those, um, uh, spiral bound notebooks from high school that like subject exercise. I mean, there's no reason you can't draw on whiteboards. I think that that's a certain aesthetic and I know several artists who I really like who that's, what they work in. They just work in, you know, and occasionally they'll like, I've seen people watercolor those things, you know, all that kind of stuff is, is part of the aesthetic. I think of just making stuff, I've just got to make it. I'm not going to be precious about it. I had a friend early on in my sketch booking life who was a real paper snob. She would make handmade books set of handmade people and she would make them for me. And so I kind of became a for a while about it. Um, but that, but I also found that there are limitations to that too. I also, I also went through a period of learning to make my own sketchbooks and taking bookbinding classes because I really wanted sketchbooks that were made out of, um, basically ledger bond, you know, like heavy. Because that was the people I liked the most and I liked it in a book. So, um, and so I would make my own because you could obviously couldn't find that there's a lot more off, um, a lot more choice now in sketchbooks than there were 20, 30 years ago used to be that there really weren't any brands, many styles, and now there's really an awful lot. So, um, what about disasters? I was thinking when you were describing, um, water calling on both sides of paper, like I've had several sketchbooks, I can think of where disastrous things happen. Like, I mean, it's going to be good. Well, the easy one is like a sketchbook that I'd hand down sketchbook that I'd almost finished and had with me on a plane. Ah, and then, uh, of course there's like the mad scramble off the plane. There's the mad scramble to get off the plane. And it was circle back, sitting next to me by the arm rest. It was like between my leg and the side of the chair. And, uh, it was only later on that I realized that I had left it there. So one fatality. So yeah, that, and that's, that's why one of the things, when you get a new sketchbook, um, writing your contact information or taping your business card into it is that, that does two things. One is if the journal gets lost, I think it is such an intimate thing that people would be inclined. I have lost one of mine and had it returned to me. Um, and it also is a way of kind of breaking in the book. Sometimes when you get this new book, you, it feels like, um, this is like, how do you it's this tablet or AZA. Right. And how do you break into that? Um, that blank slate and. If you just put your, your name and your contact information on it, um, that, that helps. Did you ever get that book back? No. No, because I hadn't learned that lesson yet. I did learn it and I've, I've adhere to it ever since. And I like, I mean, there's, I agree with you the two aspects of it, one, um, making sure you can get it back, but also kind of being like, uh, an animal peeing on the property, on the territory to, to market, you know, market territory. Um, and also you can't return it then. Um, so that was one, another one was I was in, I think, new Orleans with my son and I had been like, we'd been traveling around a lot. We've been drawing and, um, I was sitting on some like steps and behind me was a door. That led into like some kind of courtyard or something. And he and I were, we'd both been drawing and I had my sketchbook next to me on the step. And then suddenly he said, dad look out. And I realized that like somebody was like washing the courtyard and the water was sluicing under the gate and coming down the steps and it just, just hit my butt, the first wave of water. And I jumped up and as I did the water carried my sketchbook dam full of watercolors, carried it down the steps. So it wasn't destroyed, but it was, it was, it has, it has the permanent souvenir yeah. Of that experience built into it. Then another one I can think of is I went, I came up with a bright idea one day that if I couldn't be bothered to wait for my watercolors to draw. Or my ink to dry, I could throw it into the microwave. Oh, right. You're spinning. Right. So, so you put it in the microwave. I mean, it's water, right. So it evaporates and it's, it's not really heating it. Right. So exactly. So, and it works reasonably well with one exception, I was going through a period at that point where I started to use gold foil in my BA and I had this, I had this technique where I would, I would take a glue stick and I would like rub the glue, stick on the page. And then I would take a sheet of, you know, it's not really gold foil. It's like cheap, you know, you buy a little book of it and, uh, I would put it down. Then you rub it and then it stays down there. And then I could like draw over the right over or whatever. So I had some of that in the very beginning of this book, I put it in S put it into the micro. And suddenly sparks like lightning bolts inside. Yes. Quickly flung open the door to the microwave. And there was like a hole that had been burned right through the schedule. It was like the size of a pencil had gone through a whole bunch of pages and, wow. That's crazy. Yeah, that was pretty cool. Ah, so have you ever had like a lion ran off with his sketchbook or monkey stuff? W th the, um, so I've, I had sort of similar to you're sitting on the steps one. I had a journal that I was carrying in my hand while crossing a log over a very large river with a backpack on and, uh, you know, just sort of a Sierra mountain stream below me and I. Started to lose my footing and just reach down to hold on to the log. Um, stayed on the log, but my journal didn't and, um, it dropped into the river below me. And it was one of those rivers that where you like, you just gotta let that one go. You mean it just was swept away. Yeah. Gone. And did you not see that one coming? That one seems like a pretty, like probably was going to happen kind of situation. Well, in hindsight, yes. My hindsight is really good. 40, 40 hindsight. Um, the, my, my, my best, uh, journal, uh, fail was I had completed a journal of all of these observations. And then I had done a lot of that with there's a lot of pencil drawing. And so what I did is I would take them some fixative and put that. Cause I discovered that, you know, if you have facing pages with graphite on them, and then you turn the page and then you, you know, you, you, you can, it can just sort of make a mess of all of your pencil work. Absolutely. I hit this with, fix it, fix it, it, what could possibly go wrong? I found this thing called workable. Fixative right. And that's neat. And I'm sure in some contexts it works great. I also discovered that it makes a wonderful contact adhesive. That's what I was going to say. I've had that experience with a Peter stick together because you've sprayed it on both sides, right. Sticks to itself. Let's do you get this, this block that was separate pages now glued them all together. Yeah. I should, is it because people in the art supply business would, it would never occur to somebody that they would do that in a sketchbook? They just think of like, oh, you, you know, you only do it on sheets of paper. And that's probably what it is never occurred that you would do that, I guess. That's right. Um, I mean, I'll tell you people in the art supply business don't think about sketchbooks enough. They don't think about it. They just don't consider it to be a serious thing. They think it's always a throwaway sort of thing. And they don't think of sketchbook artists. It's not, yeah, for us this sketchbook, isn't just something that we're kind of doing on the side. Then we do our art. It is it's our practice. It's our process and it's our product. And that's the thing. I mean, I, that was one of the things that bothered me at this at the show that I was at in, in Orlando was all the examples that they would show. It all felt like from another era, you know, like these incredible the, on the packaging they have like these perfect, you know, really like drawings and paintings that nobody can really do, but all feel like they came out of, you know, like old school art instruction books. I don't know. There's like a level of perfection. I have to say Derwent was different because Derwent, like in fact, um, my friend Jetta, Dyer did packaging for them and they were using more like urban sketchy kind of loose stuff in that school, in the, in the examples. Right. But, but it's like, they show you the stuff on and you go like, yeah, well I'll never do that. So like, why is that? Why is that the inspiration? Anyway, they probably, unlike me, don't agree that we should be encouraging people just to make lousy things, but still, it just felt like it was, it was intimidating. One more reason that it's intimidate. Um, so all right, one other, I've got one other kind of journal fail. Um, so th th this one, um, I, I was able to recover from, um, but, uh, there was, there was a while where I saw that I would be one journal, one journal, less, um, after graduate school, uh, well, during graduate school, I, I worked with a group of other graduate students and we spent, um, the, or part of our final year studying, um, evolutionary ecology of Africa. And then with, um, uh, just this wonderful beloved professor, Ken dial, we all went to Tanzania to. And got in a big, this, this, this sort of tractor, like bus thing with open sides and drove around in this monster vehicle together and just observed and geeked out and had a great time. And we would camp out, um, on the Serengeti, uh, in between, uh, for, for the nights. Well, one afternoon we arrived, um, at what was to be our, our campsite. And I just did not have the situational awareness of kind of the, the rules of, of how you survive in Africa. Um, and there was a river, uh, the graffiti river was just flowing gracefully, close to our campsite. Um, so we had to make sure that we weren't putting our tents in the places where the hippos would come out and things like that. And, uh, there were very clear rules. If there's a hippo outside your tent, you don't go outside your tent. And, uh, but the, um, I thought like, I'm just gonna have to go do a, uh, I'm going to do a sketch over there. And so it went down by the river and plop myself down. Like I do countless times in the Sierra Nevada and was drawing the, this landscape of the, um, uh, the drawing, the landscape of the river upstream view. There's a big bank with these logs on it and, and trees overhanging the water and the grammatic river gracefully flowing by. And then I continue drawing the trees, overhanging the bank that no longer had logs on it. And, um, as I was, was drawing for some reason, Um, I got this, this sort of low brainstem kind of feeling something is amiss, and I don't know why, but I kinda, I jumped up and ran back, uh, maybe, you know, a few meters away from the, the, the, the water edge. And, um, I kind of looked around and there were no lions. There were no hygienists, but down. By the out in the water. Um, I could see these there, there were crocodile utilized, poking up, um, some backs of crocodiles that the logs on the other side had decided to crawl down the bank. And, um, and, and, and into the water to go see what this is and the crocodiles and the graffiti, or they can take a full size Willdabeast burst out of the water, grab it in their jaws, flip it over their back and, and, and, and go have a snack. Um, and I would be, you know, less than a bite size, but I realized that I just, this was a total safety fail my part. And, but then there were all my art supplies and my journal sitting in this sweet little pile right next to the water. And. Uh, one of the guides came and said like, no, you have to leave that there. And like, oh my, this is. This is, this is different rules than, you know, I think you're going to say, then it charged you and you had a pencil. Fortunately it was a six H and it was nice and hard. And you were able to do it's I, and, and, uh, okay. Can, can you imagine facing a crocodile with a three B that would be the worst, that'd be a hard pencil. You definitely, definitely need to succeed there, but at 1.1 of the, the, the, the people who had more experience with this, uh, figure at a time that he thought it was safe and went and gathered my things for me and gave my kid back to me. But, uh, yeah, don't sketch next to the graffiti since then. I've seen, you know, if anybody, you know, is at home, just, uh, do a little search for, uh, graffiti river crossing. Um, Willdabeast and you'll see, you'll, you'll get a chance to see these grumpy river crocodiles in action. Um, that Rometty is turns out, is famous for its crocodiles. And, uh, I'm just glad I didn't become part of the food chain that day. Me too. I'm glad that that you and your sketchbook survived. So I think we should go back to the topic because I feel like we're not really giving him advice cause we've got, because I think the way I started was I am by nature a miser. So I would always buy like cheap stuff, you know? And so you buy yourself a set of cheap watercolors and. It's usually a really unpleasant experience, right? If you buy cheap, they just, they just feel like you're, you're working in work scrap, you know, scratching your cheap brush, uh, cost, these cheap, hard pans of watercolor and like not much color it's coming up because there's so much binder in them and they're, you know, they're just kind of anemic. And then you put down some paper that is, isn't really watercolor paper and the colors are just flat and grayish and it's just not a great experience. And you sort of, you blame yourself for it or you think, um, I dunno, I just don't how to use watercolors or, or you, maybe you don't even notice it, but it's just not joyful. Um, which isn't to say again, that you need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars and watercolors, but there definitely is a feeling that you get that's different pinky with water costs. I think there are other things. Uh, other categories, colored pencils, colored pencils, again, expensive colored pencils can be really nice. Um, but inexpensive color pencils can be pretty good. Like you could buy a set of Crayola colored pencils, you know, at, uh, at your drug store for five bucks. And they would probably be perfectly fine to do a lot of cool stuff with you could also work in things like temporary, right? Temper is the kind of paint that they use in kindergarten. Um, and it's something you can work with, but, um, crayons, again, another thing that's inexpensive, but can be really expressive and there's a lot of creative things that you can do with it. But I think picking up stuff that kids use is not a bad place to begin picky, particularly if you're trying to figure out whether you really. Why aren't making enough to invest in it. Cause I think if you go out and immediately, like I'm going to start making art and then you go out and spend hundreds of dollars, you're going to, you're going to end up in this situation. But I think if you just say, let me do what kids do. Um, you know, you can even work with just stuff you can get in an office supply store. You can work with highlight markers, theoretically there's there's um, certainly inexpensive supplies that will do a lot of what you want to do with art. It will certainly give you the opportunity to do the things that, that we talk about here on this podcast a lot, which is to just be in the moment to get in the zone, to express yourself, to play all that kind of thing is totally doable without a big investment. Do you agree with that? I, I do. Um, and, and especially if you. And the way I usually frame things, I'm thinking about nature journaling I'm. So I'm thinking about the process of using a journal to get you to, to help you observe some phenomenon of the world around you, be that, you know, a sunset or a peony or a rock formation or a bird or tracks in the mud or a spider web, whatever it is that you found. Um, I use the journal to kind of geek out on that at a deeper level. And for that, the art itself is not my goal. It's not my focus. Um, but I will be using the, um, I will use art as a tool in service of paying attention. Um, so especially in that context, um, the, the tools for entry, it's a really low. You basically need, you know, a Dixon Ticonderoga, number two pencil, and something that you can take some notes on and you go from there. Um, and then you can, uh, but soon you start to figure it, like, I really do want, I want to play with color, um, or you'll you'll and, and to, to let yourself kind of increment incrementally upgrade, as you naturally feel that you want to do just a little bit more, don't feel that you should be doing something else. If you, um, uh, if, if you're happy with just the number two pencil, go for that. And that's, that's, that's fine. My favorite illustrator, William D. Barry did most of his stuff just with a, with a pencil and the, um, but, but there are some. You know, entry level kits that are great. There are some entry-level tools that usually I think are, are, are, are terrible. I think that for instance, you can get a watercolor set that is made for kids. Um, specifically, specifically the praying oval pan watercolor set comes with the 16, well set they're great little paints and it's they're they're made for kids. They're non-toxic. So with, with, with watercolors, for kids, the, the primary thing with it is that the is the most important feature of them is that the kid can eat all of those paints and not get poisoned with cadmium. So, but the, the prang set is a good thing. Yeah. That's always a good thing. The prank set is great, but the problem is, I think, you know, is this the, the brushes that usually come with a kid's watercolor set Winslow, Homer couldn't do anything with those. That's why you got to get a water brush. I mean, water brushes are five to $7 and they're good synthetic brushes and they have the added benefit of being a water brush. So if you don't know what a water brush is, it is a, it is a plastic handled brush. Handle is hollow. So you can fill it with water, you squeeze it and it comes out through the bristles. So, I mean, typically for nature journaling, I mean, it's probably the most amazing innovation, uh, in art history. Don't you think? Yes, absolutely. I, so I started using water brushes for stuff in the field and now use in my studio. I don't have any conventional brushes got water. I do everything now with water brushes and just love those little things. And yeah. It's um, yeah, there, there are, there are two water brushes that I like. I really like the Pentel squash, large fine point water brush. Is that the one with a big fat body? Like the big fat barrel? Like it sticks out. It doesn't really do so it's not round, so it doesn't roll off the table. Uh, they they've got a great, yeah. And the point of it is got enough spring. Some of the other brands that the brush tips either don't get sharp or they they're, they're just really spongy. They're so soft that there's no. Kind of kinesthetic sense that the tip of my brush has hit my paper and I'm not getting that feedback loop. So I really liked the, just the springiness and the texture of the brush tips with, of those things. And they come in several sizes and I find the small ones too small, the medium ones to medium, but the large one is, is for me the just right, one, another strategy towards this is not necessarily to buy inexpensive materials, but to focus what you're doing. So for instance, when I started and I felt the need for color after drawing was just a roller ball pen for a year and a half or two was to buy one brush pen. So what color? Light gray. Cool. Gray. That's great. That that's I love that approach. Yeah. And then I got a warm gray cause I wanted to see what, how would I use the two of them? And then I got, uh, eventually I got a different kind of gray and so, you know, and then I would carry those around with me and they are, again, they're not expensive two or $3, but it allows you to kind of just ease your way into tone. And then I started to, and a color brush or two here or there, you know, and it was a slow process. I didn't go out and buy like the giant set with all the ones. I would just pick one at a time. Most of them were available as what they call open stock, where you can just buy one color and you can slowly work your way through and you could do the same thing with colored pencil. You could buy a. You know, uh, buy an expensive colored pencil. Again, it's not going to be very much, but you could just buy the primary colors or you could just buy, if you want to just draw people, just provide, you know, a couple of tones and work in there. I think it, it not. Um, economical, but also it'll help you to learn how to use color in a much more conscious, deliberate way. And I think you also make nice looking stuff because it's working with a limited palette, which means that your page is kind of pulled together. There's not like 50 different colors thrown on it when you don't really understand how to use color instead, it's like, you know, you might use two complimentary colors, you know, have an orange and a purple have, you know, I mean an orange and a blue, or have purple and yellow and just have those two colors in the sea and then you can mix them and see what happens. So that kind of, and then, you know, as you start to believe in yourself, you know, you expand that a little bit more and then maybe you say, let me try a more expensive version of one of these. So bit by bit, you can get yourself to really know exactly what you're doing, why you're spending the money, because you've understood what makes. Uh, a $1 colored pencil, different from a $3 colored pencil. You will have known that from having done it yourself. And frankly, one colored pencil will last you for a year. You know, even if you walk around with a colored pencil, I hope that I hope that it doesn't. I hope that you grind through it much faster, but, um, it's, it's much more economic and that's not the way necessarily the business wants to sell you stuff. They want to sell you the big, you know, sexy 48 color box, you know, a box of colored pencils, but you can buy one too before color, you know, you can buy, you know, you can buy a really basic things of guash and, um, you can ease your way into it because again, you know, as, as you were saying, it's not about creating something fantastic is telling it's about learning, observing, and, you know, gaining confidence. I think that's, that's, that's good advice. And, and you also don't feel pressured that you, that then you're, you're, you're modifying that kit organically as you feel the need for it, as opposed to I'm going to get all this gear. And then, because I've got all this gear, I'm going to go sketch more. Um, and then you end up with a box of art supplies that you don't use sitting in the closet of your house. Um, and your suggestion about the brush pen, I think is great. The light value, um, that I really liked the Tombow in 95. So it's not just a good mask for present preventing transmission of COVID it's it's the 95 is the, the number of there, this sort of light brush pen that they have. Um, and then maybe an N 65, which is, it gives you kind of put punches in your darks and. You've got, you can play with tones for awhile, or if you decide at some point, you know, I want to play with color. I find that the easiest way to kind of jump into color is with, um, colored pencils rather than watercolor watercolor seems to me have there's a little bit more of a learning curve and there's, you know, a while at the start where like I've got wet paper, like, what do I do? There's like too much pools of water. Um, but if you're just wanting, like I would like to have color, I think that a small set of colored pencils, um, where you can overlap those colors to, to build other colors, you can, you can do so much just with a small set of colored pencils and, um, you can get those. There are inexpensive quality ones like generals, pencils. I like their colored pencil line, um, low cost and you get some, some really good stuff. What about crayons? I haven't. Did you mean the wax crayons? Like Crayola? Yeah. Um, I don't have, um, sort of adult experience drawing with those. Um, you should try it. They're really, they're really, it's fun to blend them and to, um, try and get sophisticated effects out of them. First of all, there's a gazillion colors, but also you can do that and then you can also do stuff to it. You can, you know, use it as a wax resist, so you could paint over it with watercolor. You can put crown on top of watercolor. You can, um, you know, you can scratch at it. You can iron it, you can do other kinds of cool things with it. But I think to just have one or two crayons in your pocket, and they're also, they don't leak. And even if they break, they still work. Right. But if you leave them in the hot car danger, Yes. So, but you know, it's, and they work better with certain kinds of paper, but I think they're, they're not a bad thing. They're not a bad thing. Um, and the, I dunno, are they archival? They might be certainly, there's been a lot, a lot of kids' drawings done in crayons have lasted for, for decades and generations. Right. So maybe they are archival and they're certainly inexpensive. Um, you know, and I think that they're, they're an overlooked tool, but also it's called to go to the kids section of the art supply store. There's usually one, you know, that has poster paints and, you know, pipe cleaners and all those kinds of things. And they're also usually inexpensive. I think the thing that is bad. And I don't know, really like to use that word, but you know, the sets that they give to kids who are like that, like an uncle or a grandparent will buy here, you like making art here. Right. And you open it up and it has like some sheet pastels, some cheap watercolors, some cheap markers. Yeah. So many of them kneaded eraser that has already dried out really horrible brush. That's like a S like a drinking straw with a sort of stupid back in the end. And, um, but it all comes in like a really nice case, you know, that has like, has like things that hinge out or like trays that come out. Uh, God, I think I bought one of those at the beginning of the pandemic now that I think about it. So I. Somebody gave it to me. I think it's something, I think my sister-in-law had it in the house because, well, at the beginning of the pandemic, it was, um, you know, we had, we, because we've come here by accident. We had no art supplies except whatever I had my small carry on bag and I wasn't planning to draw that weekend. So I really brought very, very little. And then it was like, I was hunting around my sister-in-law's house, constantly trying to gather anything that resembled an art supply. So it would be like a highlight marker, you know, those kinds of things. And then I found this kit that like, I dunno, bought for somebody for Christmas or something. And, uh, and it was also really old, which made it even worse. So yeah. Don't buy those. Yeah. I would steer clear of. But, you know, but when you decide like, oh, if we do this, that I want to do some water color, um, I think that the easiest sort of, sort of the tiered entry for that, um, I would say, start with, um, if you're, maybe I'd like to do this, you can get the praying 16, well, water color set. And, um, that does a, that's a, that's a, uh, that's a great little kit. Um, Claire Walker, Leslie, the nature journaler, um, as that's, that's, that's all she uses and yeah, she's, she's a Frank booster. Um, the, uh, but then what you can do is you can take that and then there's, um, just a couple of little tweaks that are going to make it even better. Um, and so. Um, w w w what I would do is I would get re it comes with whitewater color in it. So I would get rid of that, pop it out, and they sell a, a magenta refill. And so then you can, um, you can have the magenta, it turns out to be, uh, uh, just a, such an important color. It usually doesn't cause it's a true primary color, but it doesn't show up in most, um, watercolor kits because they put in red. So why would I also need magenta, but you can buy your own little magenta, um, one and, and stick that into the kit where the white one. And, um, on, um, I also recommend that people sort of pop the Wells out and reorganize them so that I like to have a sort of in my kits, like all the warm colors together in one little block, the, the, the blues and cools in, in another little block and all the neutrals and another little block. And that sort of allows you to kind of, then when you're on the easel sort of mixing paints, there's an adjacent mixing zone for, for each of those. That's interesting. You know, you could also do is if you did buy a praying set and then you found that there were one or two colors that you were using the most go out and buy like a Winsor Newton professional pan, just the one pan that color and substitute it and see, does it make a difference if you using one that costs a lot more, and then you might say, you know what, this. To game-changing or he might've say I'm happy with, with the praying. Yeah. And, but an hour or so if for that, I would recommend that they go out and they get a tube of that color because they're full cans. And then you can refill with that. Um, the, the next sort of step up from the praying, I would say is the, um, the, the Cottman Sketchers pocket box, um, which is this, it's a wonderful little compact white kit, um, that has, um, has, uh, uh, uh, has the, the sort of Cottman level cakes in it. But. You're going to, but the, the case that it comes in, I think is terrific. And then I would do the same thing with that. Get it comes with Chinese white. I would get rid of that and maybe put in neutral tent. Um, I would get rid of the Elizah and Crimson that comes in at and put in some quinacridone magenta, but you can buy, you know, as you're using things up in that case, you can then replace them with, if you want to place them with student grade, or if you want to, you can upgrade them one at a time to, um, artists, great colors. And then you'll be like, Ooh, it's w is the Windsor Newton student grade brand. That's right. And yeah. And also, I mean, you just take a tube of paint, squeeze it into the pan. And as it dries, it will become like all the other pans. It's actually, I always think slightly better than the stuff that comes from the panel though. It's kind of almost the same. Well, listen, we have, uh, we're running out of time cause I know you have to go. So I want to wrap it up and say, this has been fun. I feel like we could just talk about art supplies all the time. I don't know if you would want that rains and other stuff, but, um, you know, it's, it's always really fun to talk about gear and I learned a lot from you today too. So thank you for that. Well, thank you. Um, and, uh, um, I hope that at least everybody, after listening to this podcast, they're going to run out and put their name in their journal. Definitely. And also that they're going to run out and write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us. The people have been sending us poems, advice, questions, life stories, all kinds of stuff we love hearing from you. And, uh, we were going to read a poem, but one at a time. Uh, well, next time, next time. And we'll see you then, uh, for art for whole.