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1. the ghosts of night, the dreams of day

Had a lovely day yesterday, drawing for the love of drawing rather than for work. I always love catching up with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire, my sketchcrawling buddies, too. We spent the day at the National Emergency Vehicles Museum in Sheffield. It was right up my tree. Loved the subject matter. I could spend another day, or ten, there. And, maybe even a night; apparently there are many ghosts in this former police and fire station. If you believe in that sort of thing, of course. I don't but I'm willing to have my mind changed.

 There was a very specific colour scheme too. Reds, blacks and a little yellow were the colours of the day. I managed to not take seventeen pencils cases, which is an achievement for me, and narrowed it down to just the three sketchbooks. I always try to take some tools that I wouldn't normally draw with at home. I try and play a bit more on sketchcrawls. It feels like the right place to do that as you often encounter subject matter you wouldn't normally choose to draw. The red Bingo dabber was an inspired choice of pens.

 Here's something I've noticed during October, as I'm participating in Go Sober For October, I do a lot more with my weekends. It's much easier when you're not factoring in a 'big night' or a hangover. That's just another benefit to being sober; doing more stuff with your time. Just look at how my blogging has increased in the last month!

 The museum holds a vast range of fire service related memorabilia that had previously been sitting in attics and local fire stations all over the county and amongst the exhibits were prisoner files from the last century. I found these the most fascinating of all, and below are my drawings of some of the mugshots from around the 1940s. It's funny how just by drawing somebody, spending that time studying someone, you can feel a real connection with them. I don't just want to now more about the faces I drew, I feel an empathy, sympathy, for them. Protective towards them even, like I knew them. I guess what I'm trying to say was that I was touched by them. Maybe I do believe in ghosts.




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2. Terror at Dean Clough!



Luckily for me, it wasn't real terror, but Tales of Terror, a wonderful exhibition of beautifully detailed illustrations by David Roberts, which has just opened in the Illustration Gallery at Dean Clough in Halifax. John and I went along to the opening on Saturday, where we met the absolutely lovely David Roberts in the flesh (I think all children illustrators are lovely to be honest... but then, I am biased). 


I just love David's work and I especially love this series, because of the sinister edge to each illustration. It's often quite subtle but definitely disturbing. Wonderful stuff:


They were created for the Tales of Terror books by Chris Priestly, a Victorianesque series of horror tales for children. David explained that that's why the illustrations are created to look a little like the old etching plates from Victorian novels:


I also met up with my friends and fellow illustrators, Chris Mould and Lydia Monks. It was great to have a good old chin-wag. Chris has a permanent studio at Dean Clough (they do loads to support artists). I went to visit his studio a few years back: take a peek... Chris was also the curator of David's show (well done Chris - nice job).

Here we all are in the Dean Clough restaurant, after I had just finished scoffing down a rather yummy lunch (I was a little worried about my grin, visualising bits of rocket between my teeth and am very relieved to see that, if it's there, it doesn't show).


There are several galleries at Dean Clough, and all the exhibitions were opening at the same time, so we had a lovely afternoon, mooching around them all. I particularly liked Jo Brown's abstract paintings

Go take a look yourself. the exhibitions are up until January 3rd.


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3. The Art of Procrastination

What's the deal with this Procrastination thing?
Perhaps you absolutely love to make art, but the threshold you need to get over, to actually start doing it, seems sky high.
20141007 laundry
Your laundry gets folded oh so neatly, all windows are cleaned, your art tools are stored and archived in alphabetical order, your books now color-coded on the shelves... but still, you didn't put one single pen or brush stroke on your paper.
Why?
A friend of mine told me about her new resolution. She decided on it, after a very relaxing holiday. She said: "you know what? I am always cleaning my house in the weekends, but I want to enjoy my weekends and be free to do whatever I feel like, just like the feeling you have on vacation every day."
She came to realize that a clean house is important, but downtime is so much more important. Just sitting down and read, taking an afternoon nap, or going for a ride on her motorcycle. That's what it's about. It's okay to let the laundry basket overflow every once in a while. Or to leave the dishes in the sink when it's one of those beatiful sunny fall days. It's not gonna kill you. As long as you, instead, do what you love.
20141007 dishes
Procrastinate on your chores. Make Procrastination work with you, not against you. Stop self-sabotaging your limited art time!
And in fact, it's likely that the mess you are making, could even be a great excuse to sketch!

What do you procrastinate on, and how? How could you turn it around?

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4. Mini Sketches






These pages are done in a small sketchbook, it's 6x8cm, a.k.a. 2.3x3.4"

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5. the changing man

Here's just a little (it's all relative) something I knocked up in my sketchbook.
The story of the drawing goes a bit like this...
Sometime back in May I went to my friend, and Dr Sketchy partner, Lara Gothique's fabulous vaudeville extravaganza (I do love that word, extravaganza. In fact, I love both of those words; vaudeville and extravaganza) called Cupid Stunts. I sketched the whole show that evening. I came away with a load of drawings. Over twenty quick sketches.
One of the fabulous artistes that night was a Victorian strong man called Sir Leopold Aleksander. I got a good handful of sketches of him. They were pretty much all as below - simple line drawings.
Over the last couple of weeks, as I have been living a life of sobriety, I seem to have a bit more time on my hands in the evenings. Time to do the things I've wanted to do for ages but not got around to because wine got in the way. Time to go back through my sketchbooks and rework some of those quick sketches that needed a bit of the AJ treatment. So that's what I did with the, now, tattooed gentleman above, and, at some point, will do with the sketch below. Sure, they don't exactly look like the Victorian gent, but that's what happens when you a) sketch in the dark and b) complete the illustration using only your memory and a lot of imagination. And, that's what I love about drawing.
Thanks to Sir Leopold for the use of his body(?!)
Thanks to Lara for her fabulous show.
And thanks to Go Sober For October for giving me the headspace to draw instead of drink wine! 
If you can spare a bob or two please donate to my sobriety challenge. I am raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support. The most worthiest of causes. You can do that HERE.
And if you'd like to see a vaudeville extravaganza, and are in Sheffield next weekend (a long shot, perhaps), Lara is putting on another. Check it out HERE. Take your sketchbook!

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6. Selfies, yo.

Check it out! Deborah, who is an artist, a writer, and student in Sketchbook Skool, wrote an article about Skool, and what it's all about! Click here to read the article.

Well, Deborah says I'm known for my selfies. Wow, well, if she says so.
It's true, I do love drawing self portraits, and I feel very inspired too, after visiting Marlene Dumas's exhibition here in Amsterdam in the Stedelijk Museum. Amazing!
I am keeping up the habit, and to prove it to you, I am sharing a few selfie pages from my mini sketchbook here:



 


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7. Hot Rides!






My husband played with his band, 'Dirt Road Music Band' on an Old Timer Festival.
Of course I enjoyed their gig, but what I was most interested in, was to take out my sketchbook and draw beautiful old timer cars! There was a huge terrain with cars from the 20's to the 80's. I picked a few to sketch, while enjoying the beautiful sunny weather and chatting with the proud owners.




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8. and i say, it's alright

I always think that as long as I come away from a day trip or sketchcrawl or Dr Sketchy or any sort of drawing event or opportunity with one 'good' drawing, or, at least, one drawing that I like, then I'm happy with that. That's all I ask for. Just a memento of the day.
 By the time I was leaving London last week I still had nothing, apart from a few prosaic, pretty average drawings of people on the train there, and it was getting dark. I'd gone to the city with a drawing in mind. There's a sculpture I wanted to see and I'd packed the yellow and orange pens especially for it. But, our time there went so quickly that I didn't even get to see or draw it. But, that's okay, that's another trip
 .I didn't want to leave though, not without something, a souvenir, to take home. So, just before I caught my train back, I dived into a café on the corner of Tottenham Court Road for a cuppa and a draw.
 I missed my next train home. So, I had an extra hour to spend drawing the souvenir shop on the opposite corner. I got another cuppa.
 Is it a 'good' drawing? Do I like it? Not really. It's alright. Ish. But, I feel like that about a lot of my work. I need to close the book and put it away for a while. I almost always feel differently with time between it. Who knows, I might even like my souvenir from London in a few months time. Right now I doubt it, but you never know.
 And here's a couple of prosaic, pretty average sketches of people on the train...

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9. Inktober Day 7

Inktober 7

 

Poor Mort, stood up again!

Micron Brush Pen Black & Graphite pencil

 

 

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10. Draw Tip Tuesday: Hand lettering a phrase

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Let's do some hand lettering today. Pick a quote or a phrase and make it look pretty!


You can make awesome art!
And if you like my videos. you may also like one of my online classes: check them out on www.koosjekoene.nl

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11. Small drawings, huge fun!

So a while ago, I bought this super mini sketchbook, and I have been carrying it with me, sketching in it a few times a week.
It's, 6x8cm, which is 2.3x3.4" Somehow, the little book is very accessible; the pages are small, it feels like you almost can't get wrong.

I draw small scenes in it, like this coffee sequence below (which by the way, fits right into my friend Suzi Poland's "Coffeeosophy", which you'll find a lot of at her instagram feed


 



Or I'll pick it up at the breakfast table, and draw what's in front of me:



When, a few weeks ago, I watched the news during breakfast and heard the sad news that Robin Williams had died, I drew his portrait.



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12. I visited a children’s book conference in the North of...















I visited a children’s book conference in the North of Michigan this past weekend and spent most of it sketching and listening. I’m not going to review the conference, but I’ve posted a few of the sketches I did (mostly of speakers but some audience members). You can also see the layout of my portfolio things which were on display during the weekend.

I really should mention though, that I did really enjoy painting in a butterfly garden (the watercolour & ink above) and getting to know a few really awesome people. 















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13. Drawing my Kitchen


I have been planning to do this for ages. Or well, since the first time I saw Tommy Kane's klass while still preparing to launch the very first kourse of Sketchbook Skool, way back when.

So I drew my kitchen. First the rough directions in pencil, then I drew everything in pen and added details. It has been a pen drawing for a week or two, waiting for colour, while I filled up my next daily pages in my sketchbook.

Then finally I sat down and took out my watercolours. I hardly ever go back into a drawing to finish it, but this time I did, and I am so glad I did! Well spent drawing time, spent at my favorite place in the kitchen.

You can do this too. It's almost meditative. And very rewarding if you take the time for a drawing. If you want to learn from the master in slowing down and drawing details, Tommy Kane, go to Sketchbookskool.com and join the kourse "Beginnings". It's $99 and starts October 10.
You will also learn from Danny Gregory, Roz Stendahl, Jane LaFazio, Prashant Miranda, and me.
www.sketchbookskool.com

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14. Mini sketchbook

It's cool. It's cute. It measure 6x8cm, and it's a tiny sketchbook.
The only downside is, it's so small, sometimes it hides in secret corners of my bag when I am looking for it.





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15. Draw Tip Tuesday: Perspective

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

In my online classes, I often get questions about drawing perspective.
Well of course it’s hard to explain in a few minutes here on Draw Tip Tuesday, but what I can do is show you a trick.


I hope you like this video!
If you want to learn more, have a look at my website: koosjekoene.nl and join one of my classes today.

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16. Sketch crawling

Sketch crawling -I do it often. Or well, I just crawl somewhere and sketch, basically. But sometimes I meet up with others to sketch, chat, have coffee and awe over each other's sketchbook pages. I love those happenings; meeting other sketchers and enjoying comfortable silences in which we are all focused and drawing.
That's what happened last Saturday, with a bunch of participants of my online drawing course 'Just Draw It!' We spent a few hours together on a sunny/rainy/sunny  day inVondelpark in Amsterdam, and it felt like a holiday!




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17. Bicycles: An illustrated Farewell

Some vehicles can feel like friends. I’m sure you know someone who gave their car a name, or maybe you named your car too? It’s quite a common thing to do, for some people. I travelled around in Australia in a car called Lucy, for example. She was one trusty old station wagon, for sure. 
Well, here in Amsterdam, my trusty old hand-me-down bicycle has brought me to many places for years. Amsterdammers take the bicycle to get around in the city. Even when it rains, or it snows, we hop onto our steel steads to get from A to B. We even have bike flats in the city center, floating on the canals, to park our bikes and prevent the streets to be cluttered with steel. Doesn’t help: bicycles are parked everywhere anyway. 

I’ve portrayed my bike every now and then. Here's a recent post about it, if you're curious. And at some point it started to evolve. From my trusty bike to my rusty bike. 

Time to say goodbye. Because really, it was just not safe anymore to use it. Half falling apart, it wasn't worth fixing it anymore, it needed to be replaced.
But because it has been such a trusty companion, I drew it once more, and told its story by making notes around it, and lifting out details.
An illustrated farewell:



Speaking of stories... Just before the weekend, we launched the new kourse in Sketchbook Skool, and the theme is 'Storytelling'. Melanie Reim, Mattias Adolfsson, Jean-Christophe Defline, Veronica Lawlor, Danny Gregory and I will be teaching about how we visually tell stories in our art journals.
I am so excited about Sketchbook Skool, and the community of amazing artists that is growing, with each semester! We only started thinking of it in November 2013 and now we already developed this third kourse, and proud of it too!
The first lesson will be on October 3 and you can enroll on sketchbookskool.com. Just sayin'!

I decided to buy myself a brand new bicycle, and although we still need to become good friends, I drew the new bicycle at its first day in my posession.

I bring it with me into Amsterdam, or rather, it brings me! 
 And I am 'customizing' it, by adding cool stuff - like this basket on the front, to put transport things in; groceries or more fancy things like art tools!
 I'm sure there's more bicycle portraits to come!
What is your favorite vehicle for transportation? A car? Train? A scooter? A boat? Your feet? (I sure love drawing the pair of them, too!)



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18. You have Good Taste

This may not exactly be news to you, but: Taste is something personal.

You like your coffee with soy milk, and maybe also a hint of vanilla? Well, I like it black. You like potato chips? I like peanuts. You like macarons? I’d rather have a piece of chocolate.
But who is to say which one actually tastes better? It’s your word against mine.
Same goes for art. Take Van Gogh - his paintings were hated by many, and the poor guy had to live like a bum while making art, so who would have thought back then that poor old Vincent would become one of the most famous artists of the world a long time after his death?
201407 coffeeTakeaway
There are no rules for taste. Or for making art. That’s why really, you shouldn’t worry about what others think about your art. Seriously. Wether that’s writing, painting, drawing, music, poetry… You are the one making the art, and if it’s not quite like the taste of anyone who feels the need to tell you so - well, just politely thank them for the advice and send them off to get you that Soy Latte or Skinny cappuccino or whatever else your poison may be.
How’s your taste for cooking, and food?
If you like food as much as I do, and if you also like to draw or doodle, then I’ve got something that might be fitting to your taste:
201407-strawberry
Today my online workshop 'Draw It Like It’s Hot’ is starting. This is a 4-week workshop, for $69, in which we doodle food (=foodle), draw kitchen utensils and illustrate our very own recipes. Sweet!
Maybe you can join us in this foodie-art challenge? It'll be lots of fun! You can read all about it and join by clicking here.

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19. Illustrator and Cartoonist Jillian Tamaki

Sometimes, you get stuck at a crossroads between two things you really love doing. For me, it’s being an illustrator and a musician. Years ago, I thought that I’d eventually have to drop one to wholeheartedly pursue the other. I was never able to decide what I loved more, because although different in myriad ways, my love for playing/creating music and my love for creating art are completely equal in nature.

Jillian Tamaki is a bit of a kindred spirit in this sense, although hers is a tug-of-war between illustration and cartooning. She’s been able to integrate both of these passions into an impressive creative career, having released two graphic novels with her cousin Mariko Tamaki and two books of personal work on her own–not to mention the plethora of illustration awards she’s achieved. Her ever-growing client list includes the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic, Penguin Books, The New Yorker, and WIRED.

Jillian grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and went on to study illustration at the Alberta College of Art & Design. While she originally intended to focus on design, she fell in love with illustration and began freelancing after a brief stint at Bioware, a Canada-based video game company. She works both digitally and physically, showcasing her general badass brushwork and drafting skills in addition to embroidery (!!!).

Her creative process is impressively flexible, shifting between rapid-fire deadlines and long-term projects.

This One Summer and Skim, while not necessarily limited to the teen reading section, exemplify the Tamaki cousins’ wish to expose more nuanced examples of teenage girls in literature (“not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth”) and graphic novels/comics. They don’t shy away from the heavy stuff–sexual identity, suicide, being a general loner. And perhaps there’s no better way to tell the stories of these painful experiences than through Jillian Tamaki’s gorgeous, expressive linework. Skim went on to win The New York Times’ award for Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2008.

Jillian’s exuberant, sarcastic personality is only complemented by her genuine desire to help others, especially in the creative community. She’s provided a wealth of advice on her website in the FAQ section, and also welcomes questions on her blog.

You can follow along with her at her websiteTwitterblog, and Tumblr. She also runs a webcomic at Mutant Magic, which will soon be published by Drawn & Quarterly in 2015. Jillian also teaches illustration at School of Visual Arts.

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20. Amsterdam Sketches

Last Saturday, I met up with my drawing buddy Yvonne. We brought the husbands along - mine played the banjo, hers played with the kids. It was a very warm and humid day, but we sat in the shadows of the trees alongside of a water playground.
It felt like a holiday. In the jungle. An Urban Jungle, that is.

On Saturday 12 July, The World Wide Sketch Crawl took place on... um, yes, as the title implies, many places around the world. In Amsterdam, we gathered with a wonderful group of about 30 people to have a 9 to 6 sketching day.

To kick the morning off I sketched Amsterdam's largest Chinese Restaurant, Sea Palace. It is a boat with three floors. They have great dim sum by the way. Not that I had any that morning.
Then we fuelled up with coffee and a bite to eat at a cafe with a great peaceful terrace. On the right there,  you can see the concentrated way we all worked in, by just looking at the slightly hunched shoulders of Joke, who is a student in Sketchbook Skool and came over for a few hours of sketching with her husband and their 2-year-old daughter.

Joke and I looking at each other's sketchbook pages
We moved to the science Museum, which is in the harbour, and I sat down to draw the historical boats.

Great group of Amsterdam sketchers!
Sketchbook Skool students Frans and Alexa (she came all the way from Cologne, Germany to join us!) are comparing Skool homework

After taking a break to awe at each other's sketchbook pages and make a group photo we walked to the park, to join a hippie-like small festival, where everyone was invited to bring their instruments to jam, and their art supplies to make some art. So that's what we did, we made some more art. After a bite to eat, sitting in the grass and chatting to the other sketchcrawlers, I made this last sketch before heading home.

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21. Urban Sketchers Get Wet (again) in Manchester


Yes, despite all this glorious, sunny weather of late, it poured down all day this time last week, for our SketchCrawl. At least it was still warm. I wore strappy sandals and waded my way through the streets of Manchester.


I seem to have an uncanny knack of picking the only REALLY rainy day of the month for our SketchCrawls, surrounded by beautiful, sunny days. June's squelchy day in Buxton was exactly the same, and so was our May outing, the last time we were in Manchester. The forecast was so awful, I nearly cancelled this time. 

I'm so pleased I didn't. About a dozen of us had a fantastic time and, in dodging the torrents, discovered some rather special, hidden spaces. First stop was the library, chosen mainly because it was actually open at 9.20am. Mostly it was a bit BIG and so quite hard to draw at that tender hour. So we just did a 30 minute warm-up, then sploshed our way round the corner, to the cafe at the Town Hall.


I discovered the The Sculpture Hall Cafe by chance, while researching whether we were allowed inside the Town Hall to sketch. It totally lives up to its name. Under an amazing, vaulted ceiling are leather sofas and tables draped in white linen, and its all watched over by the statues. A beautiful, very unusual place. 

I decided I wanted to fill my mini concertina sketchbook, so did this series of sketches across a couple of pages:  


Next stop was the Royal Exchange Theatre. I'd never been. What a surreal building! The traditional, and very lovely, Royal Exchange building, with its marble columns and gigantic circular windows above, is huge, like a cathedral, so big it actually encloses the ultra-modern theatre. It looks a little bit like an alien spaceship has teleported in! Apparently, the floor wasn't strong enough to take the weight of the new theatre, so they created this mad set-up to transfer weight through the columns.


I managed two drawings before we stopped for lunch. I really loved the three giant roof windows, so tackled a part of the central one:


I didn't think there was time to sketch the modern theatre, as it was visually pretty complicated, but I was struck by the contrast between old and new, so took a section of the view from where I was sitting, which incorporated both elements:


I didn't sketch them separately like this though. I carried on in my concertina book, so the end result was the long thin sketch at the top of this post. 

We lunched in Waterstones - cheap and cheerful (and big enough for us all to sit together). Stephan was showing us his Pentel brush-pen and let me have a try-out. It was lovely and fluid to use. I did this quick sketch of Mike:


The afternoon was spent at the John Ryland's Library. I had really fancied drawing the outside (it's a wonderfully Gothic building - dark stone and very twiddly) but no chance: still pouring. Luckily the inside was good too.

I had never been before but Lucie knew where to go - she took us straight to the Reading Room:


It was designed by Basil Champneys and is a mass of decorative detail. The space feels very like a church, with stained glass windows and another extraordinary vaulted ceiling. Like in a church, everyone was whispering and it was very peaceful, until someones mobile phone went off and played a silly tune VERY loud:


By lucky chance, there was an exhibition of Urban Sketching on in the Reading Room: a collection of really evocative drawings of the city, by the Manchester artist Anthony McCarthy.

We did the sharing session in the Ryland's Cafe - part of a modern wing, added during the recent restoration of the building. There were several new members again and it was so lovely chatting about what we all do and looking through the sketches. Here's me being very proud of my concertina sketchbook:


Oh, and guess what? The sun came out and the rain stopped, just as we finished our drawing time and started the sharing. Typical!

At least I got to walk back to the station with Stephan in lovely weather. I travelled back to Sheffield alone, so did my usual on the train:


Another great day out with smashing company. Thanks to everyone who came, especially given the weather conditions. If you'd like to join Urban Sketchers Yorkshire and come out to play with us sometime, just drop me an email or join our Facebook group.






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22. Sketching outside in Amsterdam

Summer is the best time in Amsterdam. When it's sunny, there's a wonderful buzz in town and so much to do and to see. You can choose to go to crowded places in the centre, or choose a quiet terrace and sit in the shade, look at the people passing by, the traffic and to listen to the bits of chatter around you. 
So that's what I do. I feel lucky and blessed to live in such a versatile city and to be able to enjoy it so much.


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23. The Key to Success

Now did you really think I could give you the key to success, when you read the title of this blogpost? I sure hope not!
There is something I can tell you about drawing though... patience, practice and perseverence are key.
So may times I start drawing and halfway through the drawing I think: 'what did I get myself into??'. Then I push through, because I know quitting is NOT an option. And by doing so, I work my way towards the reward: a finished drawing.

I can tell you much more about drawing, in fact, I can give you a lot of tips, show you techniques and give you personal feedback on your drawings and progress, in my 5-week online drawing course 'Just Draw It!'
It starts tomorrow and for only $99 you can join me today!

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24. Drawing Bicycles

As a true Amsterdammer, I do everything by bicycle. I hardly ever take public transport to get from A to B in the city. Even when it rains, with a lot of wind, cold or even snow, I simply hop on my bike that's parked across the street. And yes, everywhere in Amsterdam, you see bicycles. They're parked everywhere. There are Bicycle racks for them, but there are just way many more bikes than there's space in the racks. If I 'have nothing to draw', there's always bicycles around to draw. A wonderful challenge, every time. 
Draw tip: don't draw the bicycle. Say what? Yes, that's right - don't think about the bicycle, its wheels, construction and frame. Look at the negative spaces that you see - it really helps to get the shapes in that way.

I am quite attached to my old hand-me-down bicycle, but it's almost falling apart and it needs replacement. But not before I portrayed it! (again: by drawing the negative spaces!)

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25. i am still right here

For everyone feeling like shit today.
A new range of products, lotions and potions that I may, or may not, be bringing out in the future.
Probably not coming to my Etsy shop very soon.

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