In this week’s newsletter: the beauty of drawing, listening to jazz, and remaining calm...

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A newsletter from the desk of Austin Kleon
If you draw, the world becomes more beautiful

Hey y’all,

Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week: 

  1. I’m still on a big drawing kick. Making blind contour self-portraits. Drawing in the dark at Pop-Up Magazine. Drawing my kids. (And thinking about how not all screen time is equal.) 
  2. I’m just a few chapters into Ted Gioia’s How To Listen To Jazz, but I’ve been underlining it like crazy. (Coming across the part about how artistic movements spread like viruses was eerily timely.)
  3. PBS is streaming Miles Davis: The Birth of The Cool, which is worth a watch if you don’t know much about his work. I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager, but I somehow forgot that he took up drawing in his 50s. I loved the story his son told about him listening to Prince’s Purple Rain over and over. (Here’s a playlist of music used on the soundtrack —  if you’ve never heard his music, you cannot go wrong with Kind of Blue.)
  4. The Smithsonian released 2.8 million images into the public domain. (Somebody needs to update this
    list of open access image libraries!
  5. I’m re-reading the essays of Montaigne, who lived through plague and civil war 400 years ago. (For an introduction to his work, I love Zweig’s biography and this short volume.)
  6. Gear: Meg bought me one of these Wonderboom Bluetooth speakers for Valentine’s Day and I love it.
  7. My 7-year-old son is a Spotify sleuth: he consistently finds B-sides I’ve never heard by bands I love, just by browsing the “Singles” section of the band’s artist page. (This week it was “Nannou” off Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker and “Watchlar” on Cocteau Twins’ Iceblink Luck, both of which I added to my ongoing 2020 playlist.) 
  8. Podcast: Alan Jacobs on how to get more pleasure and fulfillment out of reading. (His book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction  has been hugely influential on my own reading life, and the sequels How To Think and the forthcoming Breaking Bread With The Dead are excellent, too.)
  9. A poem: Ron Padgett’s “How To Be Perfect,” from his Collected Poems. (Man, I love Ron Padgett.)
  10. Lots of anxiety and dread out there. I hope y’all are taking care of yourselves. Keeping it on the one and all. Things that have been working for me, other than drawing: no phone in the morning, taking lots of walks, re-reading favorite books, playing music, voting early and avoiding the news as much as possible, making art with my little dudes, cheerful retrospection in my diary, and not thinking about my life after dinner. (And don’t forget to wash those hands!)
Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap. If want to support it, forward it to someone who’d like it, buy some of my books, or hire me to speak at your event.

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Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is the author of Steal Like An Artist and other books.

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