In the before times, before the pandemic, I lived in both Paris and Thailand painting and teaching. That was my life and it was a good one.

In March 2020, the first year of the pandemic, I was on tour, teaching alla prima portrait painting, arcing through Asia from Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong and onward. I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when the world slammed shut. One after another in quick succession my workshops were cancelled.

A few days of lockdown in Kuala Lumpur convinced me that a very untenable situation was unfolding. My hotel, figuring that it was better to close down rather than endure an indeterminable guestless future gave me notice to vacate. Europe and Thailand had closed their borders, effectively rendering me a painter without a country.

I had contacts in Singapore, and that border was also closing at midnight. Singapore is a six hours bus ride from Kuala Lumpur. Lugging my easel and painting kit I decamped for Singapore, a refugee pleading for refuge.

For the eight months I sheltered in Singapore I taught and painted until the authorities decided that their generosity was extinguished and that this pandemic would very likely be a years long affair declined to further extend my visa. I was kindly requested to return to my 'country of origin'. A country I had left twelve long years ago. A country where I was certain to have been forgotten: He left for Paris and painting adventures abroad; he's no longer one of us.

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The painter's life can be an enviable one; living a life of one's choosing and doing what you love. It is attainable if you have the courage and are willing to do the work of acquiring your foundational skills which, at the core, is drawing. Everything is built upon that singularity.

No one can hide the fact that they cannot draw, even with abstract, non-objective painting lacking the ability to draw quickly becomes apparent.

By the same token you cannot hide the fact that you can draw. That, too, is immediately felt.

So where does one begin?

The common element with every accomplished painter is that they all had the fortune of a good teacher who guided, even berated, them into first building a sound foundation. Without that sound foundation your art will not grow. Acquiring a bucket of tips and tricks is a poor foundation. Sure, you might find a style that suits you, but styles come and go. Worse, there is little depth to a 'style'.

Your foundation begins with learning how to strike shape. That is the core of drawing and painting: A specific shape contained within line. Shape that is defined by how tall by how wide and the angles. That is the core of painting; just as the core of music is specific vibration produced on a string or reed.

It is upon that singular skill of accurately striking shape that everything else is built upon: form, color, rhythm, expression, etc. etc.

And here's the awful truth: it takes less than a month of dedicated practice to learn how to strike specific shape; most beginners cannot be bothered. And they will spend years and thousands of dollars and acres of canvas for naught. I know too that the vast majority of beginning artists reading this will also not bother to acquire this foundation skill. It pains me to say this, but their dreams of painting will wither. Sooner or later.

How do I acquire this skill?

That's the damnable thing it's damnably easy. And I feel so damnably strong about it that I am giving you this most valuable tool for art-making absolutely FREE! That's right! Take it and run! If I am not the teacher for you you'll know soon enough and it won't cost you a single red cent. But, nevertheless, you will begin to draw and paint at a much higher level. And I'm happy with that.

The tools needed for this are simple. Paper, a pencil and tracing paper. You can make your own templates or order mine.

Watch the video and begin learning how to strike shape. This will save you years and years of trouble and toil and thousands of dollars. And perhaps when this dismal era fades away you can fully enjoy the fruits of the painters' life.

Striking Drills