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1. From MBI - Sketches: Fun Pandas & A Bear Cat

An update and sketches from my children's book illustration blog ...


Panda-Sketches by Mariana Black

I've been on a much-needed break and am now back at college and concentrating on getting some work done! Back to sketching, drawing, all forms of art and creativity, and freeing the imagination to play. I'm back researching for my work-related project, illustrating children's books, and this little panda is calling out for my attention ... he's a sweetheart and I think I might end up sticking with him though we still have a lot to learn about each other. It's going to be fun, I think.

I'm also sketching animals in general, so here's a Binturong, or 'bear cat' that I drew in between classes. Might explore this further too, a bit later on ...


We're doing rather a lot back at college, so I'll need to do quite a bit of catching up here on the blog. I'm trying to get into a good routine, but as I'm not exactly a star medalist at organisation, this might take some time. Bit by bit ... Cheers.

via www.marianablackillustration.com


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2. Éléonore | Desireless & Operation Of The Sun

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3. Video: Authors Phil Bildner & Chris Barton, BookPeople Buyer Meghan Goel on Modern First Library

From Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Kidlit TV:

"BookPeople, the leading independent bookstore in Texas since 1970, is proud to announce the BookPeople Modern First Library initiative. This initiative is all about pairing beloved picture books that will never go out of style along with other favorites that reflect the diverse, global society of the 21st century.

"Author Phil Bildner interviewed award-winning author Chris Barton and BookPeople's head buyer, Meghan Goel about the Modern First Library -- learn how you can start one of your own!"

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4. Australia's Favourite Authors 2016!

Just visited the Booktopia web site which published, a few days ago, this year's top ten list of Australia's (voted) favourite writers - link below:


I am pleased to say that four of these on the top ten list are writers for young readers, and that some of the adult writers have also written for teens. Go check it out. And meanwhile, congratulations to this year's winner, Australia's favourite writer, the delightful Isobelle Carmody! Nice, too, to see that for the second year in a row the top writer on the list has been a children's/YA author. Does this tell you something about children's writers? I think they are just the best story tellers. My own opinion, of course. At least no one expects a child to love a book for its "beautiful writing".

Her novel Alyzon Whitestar will be republished this year by Ford Street publishing, so if you missed it the first time you'll have another chance.

Okay, Isobelle, now that you've finished Obernewtyn and become Australia's favourite writer,can you please,  please finish Legendsong

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5. lisa rose paints the town!

Meet Lisa Rose

Meet Lisa Rose

What a delight to welcome Lisa Rose back to Frog on a Dime. She’s so honest, funny and genuine. She first visited in March 2014 to talk about her upcoming picture book. And now [cue the fan fare!] SHMULIK PAINTS THE TOWN has just released!

To celebrate, I’m letting Lisa take the wheel . . .

When my agent suggested I write Jewish books I wasn’t thrilled. True, I was Jewish.  I suffered through Hebrew school.  I had a Bat Mitzvah.  I didn’t have a Christmas tree or even own a Christmas sweater.  I used words like tush, schlep, and nosh.  But I didn’t really want to write a Jewish book.  At the time I was writing outside of my race.  Inspired by the students I taught in Highland Park and Pontiac, Michigan,  I believed their story needed to be told.  I have been fighting for #blacklivesmatter long before it was a hashtag or even twitter was invented.

It wasn’t until I adopted my daughter that I thought about my culture.  How would I make her feel part of the community?  It was then I realized how little I knew about my own history.  I knew much of it was slaughtered in the Europe’s concentration camps.  And what was known was not discussed.  The memories were too painful.  There was just an attitude of  “move on and live.”  Simple and yet profound.  We lived.  We learned.  We laughed.

So, I believe it isn’t accident that my first published Jewish picture book is both funny and empowering.

Thank you for sharing, Lisa. I’m very excited for you and for the children who will enjoy your book. (And hey, you’re a pretty good driver!)

Shmulik Paints the Town coverSHMULIK PAINTS THE TOWN just released from Kar-Ben Publishing is about a painter who has to create a mural for Israeli Independence Day.  He can’t decide what to paint and gets a little help from a very unexpected source—his dog!


Shmulik Paints the Town spread






And now, it’s time for True Confessions, Random Facts and Inside Info with Lisa Rose . . . 

True confession:  Rose is actually my middle name.  I have two terrible last names.  So I chose to go by Rose because it was easy to pronounce and also honored the grandmother I never knew.  She, against all odds, escaped to Detroit.  There, she lived, learned and laughed so that one day her granddaughter could tell the story.

Lisa Rose:

  • Loves the color blue
  • Hates ketchup
  • Taught 1st grade and her students often lived in homeless shelters
  • Owned pet turtles named Broccoli and Peapod
  • Practices yoga
  • Prefers frosting and ice cream to anything spicy or garlicy
  • Likes to wake up early–like before 5 a.m. early
  • Prefers Law & Order reruns to reality TV

Would you like to know even more about Lisa Rose, my crispy little waffle cones? What a silly question. But of course you would. More info about Lisa Rose, click here.

When you write, magic happens. Doors open. People smile and the world is a better place. ~ Alan Dapre

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6. Emma Watson as Dr. Who?

Many Dr. Who fans were sadden to hear that Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi will be stepping down from their roles with the highly successful TV series sooner than any expected. With a new writer and a new Doctor being introduced to the series in the near future (2018), there have been many interesting suggestions flying around the rumor mill–including rumors of Harry Potter stars filling in the lead role.

With new head writer, Chris Chibnall, will there be a woman Doctor Who? It would certainly shake things up a bit for the series–which has essentially been running since 1963 (the first series ended in 1989, but was brought back in 2005)–as the show has always run under a male lead as the Doctor, with a female supporting actress as the Doctor’s companion.

Popular suggestions in the fan base right now are Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Whishaw (“Q” from the recent James Bond movies), Richard Ayoade and Chiwetel Ejiofor. But the possibility of having a woman Doctor, for the first time in over 50 years, also opens up the opportunity for a male companion. Two popular suggestions at the moment are our own Harry Potter lead actress, Emma Watson, and Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams.

Emma Watson’s role as Hermione is a relatively fitting character for a female Dr. Who. Emma Watson’s Hermione was incredibly intelligent, independent, and caring. A Doctor Who, traveling through space and time, with expansive knowledge of all of history and the future, acting as a guardian aid in the safety of the universe, and as a leader embodies all of these things.

Though a female Doctor Who’s personality and quirkiness would be much different than Hermione’s, Emma Watson would still be a great actress to select for the role. Of course, even if she is offered the role, it is up to her to accept it.

The changing of gender roles opens up an interesting discussion within the TV series as well as within the industry itself. Please share with us your thoughts and suggestions!

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7. Certain Songs #443: 54-40 – “Sound of Truth”

54-40 sound of truth Album: Set The Fire
Year: 1984

Most likely, if people have heard of 54-40, it’s because of an episode of the TV show Friends. Specifically, the one with Hootie and The Blowfish, which was actually called “The One With Five Steaks and an Eggplant.”

After the usual series of wacky hijinx and hilarious misunderstandings, the gang finds themselves at a Hootie and The Blowfish concert, where — in a very unconvincing “concert” scene — Hootie and The Blowfish aren’t playing one of their songs from Cracked Rear View, but rather a cover of the Canadian band 54-40’s “I Go Blind.”

Lord knows what kind of burgeoning corporate synergy led to that moment, but I remember watching that episode, and not knowing anything about Hootie and/or The Blowfish (outside of their tremendous popularity), was incredibly confused that they were playing a song that I actually knew.

In any event, I’d like to think that cover — which was freaking identical to the original version, BTW — sent a few folks towards discovering 54-40’s 1986 major-label debut, 54-40, which included a few good songs, like the aforementioned “I Go Blind” and the almost-a-Certain-Song “Take My Hand.”

None of which has very much to do with today’s entry, “Sound of Truth” from their 1984 indie release Set The Fire.

Starting of with a mournful trumpet, and almost instant falling into a slow, bass-driven two-note groove, “Sound of Truth” is one of those songs that trades upon repetition, while occasionally adding more instruments into the mix.

Meanwhile, vocalist Neil Osbourne (no relation), who sounds like the third vocalist in Translator if they had a third vocalist, is singing:

Some kind of order is what we’re after
The sound of truth doesn’t matter any more,
happy poor
There is a trick some kind of lure
No means of knowing sure anymore,
happy poor

At one point, a banjo comes in, playing the same figure over and over and over, against the slow beat, while more horns come in while the the entire band (or maybe just multi-tracked Osbournes) sing over and over:

The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after

While some folks might shout “We get it already! You’re after the sound of truth!” I’ve always found the repetition — musically and vocally — hypnotic and anthemic.

Also: for thirty years, I’ve been waiting for a deep voice to counterpoint “THE SOUND OF TRUTH” like a Rush song or something. So far, it hasn’t happened, except for in my head, every time.

“Sound of Truth”

The post Certain Songs #443: 54-40 – “Sound of Truth” appeared first on Booksquare.

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8. Beginning 2016

"Morning Flowers" oil on canvas

A little late I know - starting in February.  I have some good things planned so hopefully this will be a creative year.  This is a 16 x 20 oil on canvas that will be part of a series.

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9. The Compound - ABANDONED - Desert Homeless Camp

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10. found! day 6

Yes, I finally found my way to Laura Shovan's new website and to her February Writing Workout...and I'm excited that the prompts for daily writing are all about found objects.  Better yet, we don't even have to find our own objects...photos are provided!

So I'm jumping in to follow along as well as I'm able, starting with the Day 6 found object(s) below.

A Doll Trap

secured behind glass
                     or less
doubly exposed
        they gaze out
 lean  reaching     toward

one does more than yearn
       raises her
                     chubby arm
to crack that glass again
               dolly hai-ya

she will be
       will walk  among
      walls and rock
        follow    plastic paths
                   to new clothes
  new scenes

~HM 2016
all rights reserved


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11. Face Time

Henry’s gotten old enough

For phone calls to take place
And now, with new technology,
We get to see his face.

But also he sees ours, as well
As where we do reside.
He doesn’t get here often, so
A tour we did provide.

“There’s Grandpa in the kitchen
Cooking pasta in the pot
And chopping mozzarella cheese,
Which Henry likes a lot!

Look outside – there goes a taxi
And some buildings, big and tall.
In the living room are pictures –
Yes, of you! up on the wall.”

What a wonderful connection!
Though we’re kept apart by miles,
Thanks to mobile phones and WiFi,
We can see each other’s smiles.

Grandpa even gave a tickle
And a high-five at the end.
Though we couldn’t really touch him,
It was better than pretend.

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12. Counting Down Blessings

The first week of the new semester is done, and all three classes look delightful. I can truly tell by the first day, the second at the latest, how good a class is going to be. Good classes have students who are willing to talk, but none who feel the need to hear themselves talk all the time. Extra bonus: students who nod and smile as I talk. Biggest bonus of all: a sprinkling of beloved students I've taught before.

The content of my children's literature class is now dear and familiar to me from teaching it several times before. Yesterday we argued amicably over Maria Edgeworth's early 19th-century story, "The Purple Jar." Some students were furious at little Rosamond's sanctimonious parents who allow her to purchase a beautiful purple jar (which only appears to look purple because of nasty purple chemicals inside) rather than much-needed shoes; other students were annoyed at clueless Rosamond herself.

In my ethics of immigration class, we're trying to get a first look at empirical findings on immigration. Some that have surprised us: levels of global immigration have remained constant over the past fifty years (with immigrants making up around 2-3 percent of the world's population); immigrants tend not to be the poorest of the world's people (the desperately poor don't have the resources to migrate); governmental efforts to reduce the flow of immigration tend not only to drive immigration into irregular and unregulated channels.

My eight-person "Ethics of Story" class practically teaches itself, as the students come to class so well prepared to talk, talk, talk. We launched the course with Jonathan Gottschall's engaging little book The Storytelling Animal, focusing most of our attention on his discussion of why we might have evolved as storytelling creatures. Students with more background in evolutionary biology found his treatment of the subject on the "lite" side, but all found the topic fascinating: do we seek out stories as the evolutionary strategy of obtaining cost-free preparation for surviving future traumas in our own lives?

So the first week was wonderful. And yet I'm still so homesick, in a way that I can't seem to shake, despite dinners with friends, a "Janeites" book club meeting (Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - fabulous, read it!), a philosophy department discussion of Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele (reads like a detective story, with lots of useful advice for educators), and many other treats. I just miss home. I just do.

I debated whether I should cross down the days till I head back to Boulder for good in May. In favor of the countdown; the pleasure I always get in crossing anything off a to-do list. Against the countdown: the dismal thought that I'm counting my life away.

I decided to make the countdown list. But I made it with a twist. I wrote down all the days until I go home on May 20; I started the list on the day before I left for Europe (134 days left); I'm now down to day 105. Instead of crossing the days off, however, for each day I record a blessing, or two or three: something lovely, something joyous, large or small. Of course that was staggeringly easy to do in London and Paris, but it's turning out to be staggeringly easy to do in Greencastle, Indiana, too.

Reading A Nearer Moon (magical!) by my friend Melanie Crowder.
A chilly, sunny February walk with two philosophy department colleagues.
A take-your-breath away lunchtime talk by an art historian colleague.
Reviewing galleys for my new middle-grade novel with a  young, witty editor who shares my passion for grammatical minutia.

I'm not counting my life away; I'm amassing a list of blessings, with, after today, 104 more days of blessings to come.

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13. Writing Books

With so many craft books from which to choose, how do you decide?


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14. One Book 4 Colorado - Read to Your Bunny

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15. IF: Mystery

Testing out Rebelle - mostly for the watercolor emulation aspect of the application.
The experience of live watercolor like fluid behavior and appearance is exciting.
Tons of potential for watercolor digital art making - particularly for web based (lower dpi, smaller images) type digital art.
Its a challenge learning way to make the application really deliver… Lots of learning to do to  turn the mysterious into another great digital tool.

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16. Welcome to Cartoon Brew’s Annie Awards 2016 Liveblog

Starting at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern, we're liveblogging the biggest night in American animation.

The post Welcome to Cartoon Brew’s Annie Awards 2016 Liveblog appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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17. Top 7 Famous Literary Bars You Should Visit

One of the most enduring clichés about us writers is that our two natural habitats are a cabin in the woods, where we work in silence, surrounded by thousands of books, and a local bar or coffee shop. Since the latter have become places where hipsters, nerds, and urbanites gather, there are very few places where real writers can go and feel that old-time spirit that was once felt in bars visited by some of the greatest authors of all time.

Why bars? Well, aside from providing the background for some of the most iconic anecdotes in literature, those establishments were places where writers, which were often tortured souls, gathered and socialized with each other, sought inspiration, or simply drank to ease their burden, thus revealing the less romanticized side of every writer’s life.

Luckily, some of those bars are still around today, and what better way for a writer to get inspired and moved than to visit them and experience the same atmosphere as their literary role models did? The following infographic from assignment writing service contains 7 famous literary bars that should be a pilgrimage for every writer.

White Horse Tavern (New York City, USA)
Established in 1880, New York City’s White Horse Tavern is located in Manhattan, at the corner of 11th and Hudson, with the first notable patron being an English character actor, director, and screenwriter Charles Laughton. Before it was known as a center where writers gathered, it was a bar visited mostly by longshoremen. It gained its present fame in the early fifties, not just because of the talented authors and artists, but also because of the heavy drinking.

One patron which is notable on both accounts is Dylan Thomas, who beat his own drinking record right there, and had his last drink. Notable patrons also include James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac (who was thrown out on more than one occasion), Bob Dylan, Normal Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison and Michael Harrington.

Cerveceria Alemana (Madrid, Spain)
This bar, located at Plaza de Santa Ana 6, opened its doors to writers and patrons in 1904, with the most famous one being Ernest Hemingway, who liked to visit the joint during the day. For those who wish to sit at the same table as he did, it can be found in the near right-hand corner. Hemingway spoke very highly of La Alemana, noting in his recognizable style that it was “a good place to drink beer and coffee”. Other patrons include Victor de la Serna, Ramon del Valle-Inclan, and Hollywood diva Ava Gardner, who frequented the bar between 1952 and 1967.

Old Town Bar & Restaurant (New York City, USA)
If a writer should ever find himself on 45 E 18th Street in New York, he should take the time and visit the Old Town Bar & Restaurant. This is one of those rare places where the interior has a character of its own, with its heavy marble and wood, dating back to 1892. It is the place where Frank McCourt famously quipped “Love! King of New York Bars! A place where you can still talk!”. Also visited by the likes of Nick Hornby, Seamus Heaney, and Billy Collins.

The Eagle and Child (Oxford, England)
This pub, located at 49 St. Giles Street, was founded in the 17th century, and was the birthplace of the Inklings, a literary group which gathered some of the greatest minds literature and the University of Oxford has ever seen, such J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Hugo Dyson, Norman Colin Dexter, and Charles Williams.

El Floridita (Havana, Cuba)
One can’t help but mention Ernest Hemingway in the same breath as Havana and El Floridita, which was one of his favorite bars, as is evident by numerous photographs of him hanging on the walls of the establishment. Stepping foot inside it is like going back in time to the 40s and 50s, with none of the spirit and atmosphere lost. Besides Hemingway, El Floridita patrons were Ezra Pound, and Graham Greene.

Les Deux Magots (Paris, France)
Most Parisians would say that the year 1812 is important for two things: Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, and Les Deux Magots, which was founded the same year. Back in the day, the café used to be a spot where the French intellectual and literary crème de la crème socialized, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, as well as James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht, and, of course, Ernest Hemingway.

Literary Café (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Literary Café, founded in 1816, has more than earned the right to its name, with the likes of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Nikolay Chernyshevsky, and of course, Alexander Pushkin, spending their days, and night, within the confines of its walls. It was also the last café Pushkin visited before his tragic death.

Walking in the footsteps of famous authors and sitting at the same table as they did when they were at their creative peaks can be life-altering experience for every writer, and a chance to meet other like-minded writers, and perhaps run into an author they look up to. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Infographic: Top 7 Famous Literary Bars You Should Visit

Source – AssignmentMasters.co.uk


Linda is a professional editor, blogger and freelance writer. She is interested in techniques, which improve overall productivity and writing hacks. Follow Linda on Twitter to get inspired!

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18. Lessons from Characters Who Are Writers: Discovering the Writer’s Life

Kids often feel as though that they are the only ones who have ever been stuck for ideas, or been laughed at, or had a story rejected (by a teacher, or friend). No matter where you live, no matter what you write, there is no need to discover every writing problem all on your own. That's where characters in books come in. Why not learn from them?

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19. Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now open!

Our February workshop is now open! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have author Brian Katcher and agent Christa Heschke!

So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute - and good luck!


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20. Marvelous Weekend: Mary Jane in the Armor, the All-New Wasp and more!

Howard_the_Duck_7Like thunder, like lightning Newsarama has just dropped some brand new details involving a collection of All-New, All-Different Marvel titles. First up, is something that has been a long time coming with the various Marvel teasers, we have a sneak peek at the All-New Wasp in the Marvel Universe. Marvel is releasing the title May […]

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21. Difference between Impact and Relationship Throughlines

Question: Could you please give more information about the Impact and Relationship throughlines? There is a clear differentiation between the Overall and

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22. UK library lending numbers

       The Public Lending Right is the neat system in the UK whereby authors are remunerated (up to a point) each time their books are checked out of a library, and they've now released their most recent statistics as to UK library borrowing.
       In The Guardian PLR chair Tom Holland has a useful overview of Library lending figures: which books were most popular in 2014/15 ? -- including the list of the 100 most borrowed titles.
       Despite being (completely) fiction-dominated, none of the top 100 are under review at the complete review; indeed, few other books by any of the authors to crack the top 100 are.

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23. Sorry but the 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Closed!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry but the Free First Five Pages Workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in under a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month!


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24. Comic Book Heaven | Future Shorts

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25. How to Paint a High-Contrast Study

When painting from the figure, it's easy to get lost in all the subtle middle tones, and end up with a painting that has no force or impact. Shadows are usually darker than you think, and lights are lighter and more unified.

A helpful exercise to push your awareness in this direction is the High Contrast Study. Here's how to do it.

Material Prep before the Painting Session
1. Find some 9x12 inch medium brown chipboard. You can also use mat board scraps (ask your framer), heavy brown paper, or even corrugated cardboard. The tone or color doesn't matter that much, as long as it's not black or white. Don't use precious or expensive materials.

2. Seal the surface completely with a layer of acrylic matte medium, brushed on freely.

Material Prep at the Painting Session
1. Use two #4 or #6 bristle filbert brushes, one for white and one for black.

2. Use titanium white and black oil paint, and keep them separate. You can "dirty up" the white just a little bit so that you have a little room for highlights, and you can mix the black with a little umber if you want, but don't put any white in your black.

Model Prep 
1. Use a single light source on the model, and try to reduce secondary light sources such as reflected or fill light. This exercise doesn't work if there are multiple light sources. And make sure there's some light on your painting so you can see what you're doing.

2. Set up an simple background, either mostly light or mostly dark.

2. Position yourself in relation to the model so that some of the model's form is in light and some is in shadow.

3. Keep the sessions under an hour. The examples in this post were done in 15-20 minutes each.

1. Use the "black" brush to draw the lay-in, then mass in the shadows. After those are in, begin massing the lights.
2. Use black for all the areas in shadow, and white for all the areas in light.
3. If two areas of shadow come together, shape-weld them together with the black.
4. If two areas of light come together, group them together with white.
5. Try to avoid outlines.
6. Don't do too much blending at the transition between light and shadow.
7. You can leave some areas of the background tone of the board showing, but not too much.

Next Steps
1. After doing this exercise in its purest form, you can allow yourself a little variation within the shadows and a little within the lights, but keep those variations very close in value, and don't be seduced by middle tones.
2. Replace the black with a more mid-range color, so that you do the same exercise but within a narrower value range. I'll show examples of this in the future.

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