The Iceberg Principle

A finished screenplay represents, obviously, 100 percent of its author’s creative labor. The vast majority of this work, 75 percent or more of our struggles, goes into…creating the climax of the last act.
~ Robert McKee

In a bit of writing advice, Ernest Hemingway gives examples of things he knows about a fishing village. Details and stories he’s aware of, experiences he had there. Those can be left out of the finished writing – but were vital in the process of creating it. He said, “The knowledge is what makes the underwater part of the iceberg.”

  • This week’s artist is – Maria Coryell-Martin – whose work I’ve featured in the past (gosh, that was in September of 2018!) but who came to mind while writing about icebergs. She traveled to the Artic and Antartica with scientific expeditions as a working artist. Check out her website and instagram for more.

  • Hippolyte Bayard would have been 222 on Friday.
  • As a heads-up, we’re going to be having a spring clean art supply drive in April. We’ll take in donations of art supplies and materials that you aren’t using and distribute them all to an organization or two who can really put them to great use. So while you’re looking through your supplies, keep that in mind. Note the things that you aren’t using and haven’t in some time. We’ll send out reminders when we start accepting donatinos.
  • I enjoyed looking through this gallery – an artist recreated Disney princesses with more realistic proportions.
  • Here’s a free online video course to learn cursive. Here’s a paid worksheet that goes with the course (and a free version here).
  • The Butterfly Artist Collective is sponsoring an art contest for artists between the ages of 15-30. The theme is Transformation. Entries must be received by March 21st. All artists who participate will have the opportunity to show their work March 28th at Create Art and Tea. Cash prizes and other fun perks. More info here.
  • Curious about block printing but don’t want to use chisels? Here’s an easy (and safe!) option to try it out!
  • While looking at the project above, I also discovered this Miniature Faux Bonsai how-to.
  • I keep digital copies of all finished artwork that I create (that comes from having worked as a digital asset manager). This guide to scanning watercolor paintings provides some fast and easy options.
  • More than usual recently (at least it seems this way) I’ve been having discussions about buying houses. Homesfund has a $15 class that discusses how it can be possible – even if it doesn’t seem that way.
  • Union Social House is hosting a weekly Slow Bluegrass Jam on Tuesday from 5:30-7:30. They’re welcoming to all players, with a focus on slower tempo improvisation solos and chord changes. If you can play the I, IV and V chords in G, D and A then you know enough to play at this jam! A food truck and bar is onsite for dinner and drinks.
  • There are classes/workshops/projects available at Let’s Letter Together, the Scrapbook NookCreate Art and Tea, the 4 Corners Gem and Mineral Club, and the Durango Arts Center. There are a lot more things happening that I don’t include – so if you’re ever looking for something to do, start at
  • We recently received some new handmade papers. A few years ago we stopped working with our previous supplier and were thrilled to discover a new source. This was a test order to see what arrived, in what shape, etc. These ones are hand manufactured in Nepal by a certified fair trade workshop. So far so good!

One of my recurring art subjects is stick figures. I have taken figure drawing classes, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Studio, spent about a year working as a portrait artist – and I often return to stick figures. All of that other information feeds into those figures, however. Yes, I could draw a stick figure without that knowledge and experience, but I can easily be more expressive with such a basic representation because of that knowledge. Sometimes, it takes a lot of background knowledge to simplify things in such a way that it works well (Picasso’s The Bull comes to mind as an example.)

All of that to say, find the things that fascinate you. Pay attention to the different steps along your journey. Learn as much as you can. Use what you know to make art. Even when it’s not visible above the surface, all of you is represented in your art. And the world needs your art!


Matthew & the Art Supply House crew

P.S. – After writing the thoughts in the opening and closing paragraphs, I stumbled across these thoughts about Simplification and Elaboration: “The more one knows the more one simplifies,” said Alfred Stevens, and the same thought was expressed by William M. Hunt, when he said, “Elaboration is not beauty and sandpaper never finished a bad piece of work.