I was looking at the blog and I had an idea - why don't you write an instructional textbook on painting? --Dan
You should consider compiling an instructional book! --Tom
Have you ever thought about putting your adventure and art lessons into a book form? –Michael
I swear on my life, if you wrote a book on painting, color and picture making it would be the biggest thing since the Loomis books (and possibly Harry Potter). –Victor
Thanks guys. You are very kind. Good questions. You deserve a thoughtful answer, so I’ll devote this post to the idea.
As most of you know, I’m just doing this blog for the fun of it. I fit the writing into spare moments each evening, after my “day job” of writing and illustrating stories. I do it simply to learn new things about art by means of writing about them. Presumably you read it for the same reason. Together we put in a little time each day with the hope of picking up a new thought to put into practice. In this way we become each others' students.
I love how-to books. Being mostly self-taught, I owe much of my education to them. But I have always felt that there’s a gap in what’s available.
- There are lots of books now about plein-air painting, and there are books on how to draw dragons or dinosaurs, but there isn’t much that connects observation with imagination, or that gives you practical methods for painting a realistic image of a scene that doesn’t exist.
- There are books with bold techniques served up like recipes, but not many that really explore the thinking behind picturemaking, or that offer tips on research, maquettes, models, and sketches behind the final execution.
- And how-to art books generally don’t touch on the amazing discoveries in the science of visual perception from the last 30 years or so. As we’ve seen already, a lot of the art school assumptions we have about things like “eye pathways” and “primary colors” turn out to be antiquated dogma.
Should the material be broken up, as Tom suggested, into a series of separate books? Maybe a single book shouldn’t try to encompass everything. Books have to be comprehensive and focused, right? If you weed out all the goofiness and road tour stuff, is there enough material yet for a book?
Blogs and books are so different. Blog posts can wander like a beagle following its nose through the tall grass. And as my wife points out, reading a blog is free. If you’re not interested in a post, you can scroll down or click off.
If it does turn out that Gurney Journey becomes a book, then perhaps the blog can serve as an Athenian idea laboratory. I really love the amazing feedback that you are all bringing to the experience. As all bloggers know, writers benefit from being more accountable to real live readers. I can tell you that your input has taken me down avenues I never would have traveled alone, and given me the nerve to go backstage and do interviews.
One of the things that inspired me to do this blog in the first place was a Wired article from a year or two ago called "Radical Transparency." The idea of radical transparency is to let blog readers completely into the thought process of your business. The article itself was rough-drafted as a blog, and the readers played an important role in questioning assertions and pointing out resources or second opinions before the article found its way to print.
So I guess it’s possible that Gurney Journey could evolve into a book. But I’m not in any rush, and I want to keep my day job. But I do have a large and growing backlog of topics yet to cover on Gurney Journey, and it’s better to compile a book from too much rather than too little. For now I want to build up more material in the freewheeling climate of daily posts.
The blog has has led to at least two real gigs. ImagineFX magazine recently asked me to write 25 tips for painting dinosaurs. And Illo magazine is just about to publish an in-depth interview feature that goes behind the scenes. I’m really excited because I love both magazines. I’ll let you know when they hit the stands.
Tomorrow: Two Values