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1. Sketchbook Skool News: Nina Johansson!

2016-06-22 17.24.14I am so excited that in Sketchbook Skool, we keep adding amazing artists to our Fakulty. Nina Johansson, who is a fantastic illustrator, urban sketcher and watercolourist is officially joining us, and I just got back from Stockholm, where we filmed a bunch of lessons with her.
She is very inspiring, and so is her art, but Nina is also my kinda gal – positive, passionate, skillful and she has a great sense of humour to top it all off.

We’d been preparing for the video shoot via email and Skype – and then meeting in person is such a treat – especially since she’s been such a great host to make my stay in Stockholm convenient and fun.
Thanks to all great prep work and to our creative film crew, everything went smooth and we had a lot of fun during the shoot!

Great crew!

Gabrielle (sound), Me, Peter (camera) and Nina



An extra treat after wrapping up was having dinner and a sketch with Nina in the center of Stockholm, celebrating our accomplishment.


And on my way back, I made good use of my travel time and enjoyed drawing.


I absolutely love how the drawing below turned out – using just a fountain pen and a grey brushpen. It also opened up an interesting conversation with two of the flight attendants who spotted my drawing. I love how art can connect!




The post Sketchbook Skool News: Nina Johansson! appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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2. Draw Tip Tuesday: A Watercolour Trick!

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

Sometimes you’re just happily mixing your watercolours and then you get to a point where you apply too much! The drawing could get muddy… I’m sure you’ve had this happen before as well. Don’t panic – there’s a trick for this!

There’s more where this came from! Follow me on YouTube by clicking here

The post Draw Tip Tuesday: A Watercolour Trick! appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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3. Mistakes Can Make You Giggle

So I was practicing my brush strokes and brush lettering, really enjoying myself doing so.


And I thought I might as well write a note. Then I started drawing the letters and got so absorbed with drawing the shapes, that I totally didn’t realize what I was writing. It made me laugh out loud.


I am actually still giggling. Mistakes are bound to happen when you’re learning and adding skills to your creative arsenal. So let’s embrace the mistakes, and celebrate them!

The post Mistakes Can Make You Giggle appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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4. Draw and Feel

Last Friday, the new term inSketchbook Skool started, and it’s pretty exciting! Not only am I teaching my class on sketching food, called ‘Draw It Like It’s Hot’, also the 6-week kourses ‘Beginning’ and ‘Expressing’ are happening as we speak! And it’s not too late to sign up!
This week’s teacher in the kourse called ‘Beginning’ is Sketchbook Skool’s co-founder Danny Gregory, and we’re off to a great start!
His klass is all about how drawing makes us feel and that we all are creative – in our own way.
As Sketchbook Skool’s head master and head mistress, Danny and I alternate doing the homework assignments along with all the others in the Sketchbook Skool Kommunity.

So here’s what I came up with this week, for his homework called ‘Draw And Feel’

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5. About Those Messy Sketches Of Yours…

Here’s an interesting question:
A student in one of my online classes asked: “Why, when an artist makes a messy ink sketch does it look so inspiring, but when I make a messy sketch it looks juvenile? What is the missing quality?

What a great question!
I don’t have the knowledge, nor do I have the answer, but I can share my thoughts:

Regardless of who made it, messy sketches are very interesting!

20160517_AddedpageI think ‘judging’, or ‘curating’ by finding them great/inspiring or bad/juvenal is something we do from a certain perspective. We get influenced easily as well. If you look at a messy page signed by Picasso, you will know about its value, because of Picasso’s signature below it. If you look at your own messy page, a voice inside your head will tell you: ‘what a mess! So you think you’re an artist, huh?! Well, you better think again!’ Or something similar. Am I right?

It’s not the sketch that makes you think these thoughts. It’s your inner critic.

So ‘the missing quality’ would probably be: confidence.
Then again, here’s a little secret:

Most artists don’t know what they’re doing either. Just doing it anyway, in spite of insecurity, adds character and therefore quality.

There’s another important element that one of the students pointed out: time.
Right after finishing a drawing, sometimes you feel an immediate sense of accomplishment. Other times, you just think ‘Meh’, and you put the piece away. Onto the next one!
But if you get back to it later that day, week or month – you’ll be looking at it with a whole new pair of eyes! Your opinion about it will change, and you will appreciate the drawing in a different way.


Also: if you don’t have much time, you may rush through a drawing and that will show in the result. Or you might be making that mess because you are unfamiliar with the art tools you’re using. Which is all part of experimenting, playing, exploring and practicing. Which are things every artist needs to do. Beginners as well as popular, famous artists.

Does any of this make sense at all to you?

The question is too big to try and answer in a blogpost, but it is such an interesting topic – I wanted to quickly share this with you!

20160410_espressofabriekHopefully, this gives you some food for thought, and a different perspective to look at the art you make.

The post About Those Messy Sketches Of Yours… appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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6. Selfies

Drawing self portraits might be considered by some people as opportunistic or selfish. I don’t agree. Self portraits are a great way to play and practice, and to also record certain feelings, emotions and thoughts. Each selfie shows a different you, because each time you will actually be different; your mood, your hair, your state of mind – they influence both your reflection in the mirror, and your drawing hand.

I like to make faces and expressions – to draw those I take pictures otherwise my face will cramp up! The pictures will be a great starting point to study features and expressions, look at shadows, colours and details.

20160313_selfiesWith just 2 colour pencils, you can fill a page full of expression

20160611_selfiePracticing hatching to create shadows and shades using a fountain pen

20160321_selfiePlaying with ink and experimenting with white space and a contrasting background

20160320_selfieI almost forgot about the fountain pen I filled with brown ink! It had been sitting on the shelf for weeks and I am glad I picked it up! Such a different style and feel, when using coloured ink instead of plain black. I coloured the background using an HB pencil.

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7. Not Doing It Hurts

Last week I shared a blogpost about how I am hooked on hatching. Today I read a definition about habits: “A habit is when not doing an action causes a bit of pain.” It’s true! Not making art because other things seem more important or urgent does hurt. So I’ll stick to my healthy addiction and habit and keep on hatching!


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8. The Amsterdam Urban Sketchers – sketchcrawl

Often during sketch meet ups, I feel torn between: ‘I wanna make a ton of sketches!’, ‘I love meeting and hanging out with other sketchers!’, ‘I want a look into each everyone’s sketchbooks!’… And then I end up with one or two pages with half-hearted drawings, just because I was distracted by my own thoughts or not focusing on either hanging out with the others or my drawings….
Yesterday, though, it went well. The ‘official’ sketch crawl started at 2 in the afternoon, but I hooked up with some early bird sketchers to draw in the hall of the Rijksmuseum for a couple of hours. A perfect place to observe, study and sketch people. I stood close to where people line up for tickets, so sometimes there would be a long line of people waiting, that I could study closely, and then I would alternate that by drawing people from a bit further away when the line got shorter.

I had to ‘collage’ people (especially in the second drawing, in which I wanted to capture a scene), as they were coming and going. So I would draw someone’s coat or hairdo, combine it with someone else’s legs or posture, and use a third, fourth, or even fifth person for the hands, shoes, features…
A lot of fun!

Later we met up with a group of about 20 sketchers and hung out in Vondelpark, at ‘t Blauwe Theehuis, which is one of my favourite places because of the building, its location and the great atmosphere. Oh and pretty good coffee too. The weather was nicer than expected but very cold, so I just enjoyed drawing the bar and the people in the cafe inside.

Later we all ‘crawled’ to the next location – it had to be an inside location because it was just too cold. Great hanging out for hours with this fun mix of people who all have one thing in common: the love for drawing!


20160423_Urbansketch1 20160423_Urbansketch2 20160423_Urbansketch4 20160423_Urbansketch5 20160423_Urbansketch6

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9. Draw Tip Tuesday – Illustration ideas

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

When you don’t know what to draw… Then, what to draw?
The things you like most are actually a lot of fun to draw. The subject will be familiar to draw, and enjoyable.
I love food related art, and I love good coffee, so today I just pick a few favourite styles of coffee, and draw those. Adding banners to use as ‘titles’ for each item is a great way to unify the elements in your illustration. For these coffees, I can write the ingredients and even the measurements next to it, and then it becomes an illustrated recipe!

There’s more where this came from! Follow me on YouTube by clicking here

One of my favourite “go-tos”, to draw in my art journal is coffee. What’s yours?

The post Draw Tip Tuesday – Illustration ideas appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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10. Journal pages of a foodie-artist

Food illustrations are great! I enjoy awing over the huge collection of illustrated recipes on ‘They Draw And Cook‘, and love it if one of my recipes gets published there, or even featured! But even without a recipe or an end result in mind, food just never gets boring as a subject to draw!





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11. How To Fix Flaws


Beginning a new sketchbook can be quite exciting and a little bit scary. You don’t know what the paper will be like, how it will combine with your favourite art tools, whether or not you’re going to like it as much as the previous sketchbook you just filled and got kind of attached to… and above all a lot of people fear that first blank page. WHAT to do with it? It has to be meaningful, because it’s a new beginning, it should be a great drawing because it’s the first page of many to follow. Really?

I mean, really really?

No. It’s just the first page. Go for it, if the drawing isn’t as great as you hoped, there is a whole sketchbook left to make up for that flawed drawing. And does it HAVE to be meaningful? Says who?

I got this Stillman and Birn sketchbook on a trip to New York and dived right into it. I sat on the couch and my husband was playing the banjo so I thought I’d draw him. A nice way to practice gesture drawings, hands, faces. as soon as I put the first lines onto the paper I knew things were going to be out of proportion, but I went along with it anyway. To fix things a little, I kept adding things and used hatching lines, and added a bit of blue watercolor. Then I just flipped the page and went on with the next one, not really thinking about it that much and leaving the left page blank.
20160416_pascalThen, in Sketchbook Skool‘s kourse ‘Polishing’, we have an amazing Mixed Media artist: Juliana Coles. I am so happy for her to join the Fakulty! What she does is a different style of art journaling than we’ve covered so far in Sketchbook Skool. She layers her pages with drawings, paint, collage, lettering and anything she can find and feels the page needs. she uses writing to spill her thoughts or emotions onto the page and by adding layers of colours and lettering and photos and more paint, she builds very personal, emotional and just beautiful sketchbook pages. She keeps polishing the pages, getting back to them again and again, sometimes over the years. A page is never a finished piece – it can keep evolving and that is so interesting!
It is so different from what I do, and I need to take a big step out of my comfort zone to actually do this mixed media stuff. But outside of the comfort zone IS where the magic happens so I love that challenge! And this is one of the beautiful things about Sketchbook Skool. One week you may be completely inside my comfort zone drawing a meal following Matthew Midgley‘s lead, and a week later you’re exploring and discovering a whole new approach to making art!

So Juliana gives the Sketchbook Skool Students a piece of homework to do the same. She suggests you can look for a page in your sketchbook that you don’t like so much (or that you DO like), and start spicing it up.
So I took out lots of art tools, even ones that I hadn’t used for quite a while and dusted those off, took that page above, and this is what I made:


I also made a video to share my process with the Sketchbook Skool Students, and this is it:


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12. Trying to capture it

I am lucky to live with someone who doesn’t mind me drawing him. It’s not like I make him sit and pose for me as a life drawing model, but I do draw him when he practices playing one of his instruments, sits reading, or gaming for example.
Sometimes I study just details and come really close by, staring like a maniac at him until I filled a whole page with gestures, features, details.

It’s quite hard to capture ‘him’ though. Maybe because he is so close to me, that makes it harder to draw him? Anyway; this might be a good thing because it’s such a reat exercise and fun to do. And practice does help. The third drawing below, the one where I drew him while he was playing a game; it kind of looks like him!20160424_Journal


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13. How To Face Your Fears

I am a big believer that outside of the comfort zone is where the magic happens. I don’t just believe it does, I know it does.

Here’s a little example of a recent experience in facing creative fears:

The other day I had a delicious meal and ate Dutch asparagus. Those white asparagus come from the south of the Netherlands and can be harvested only for a very short season so every year. So these beauties are celebrated on the plate. All the more reason to draw them too!

So I did.

Although that comic-style recipe illustration doesn’t quite match the rest of the page, I loved working on this and it could be the basis for a version 2.0, an illustrated recipe to send to They Draw And Cook for example.

The eventual purpose (if any) didn’t matter, because I was just enjoying the process of drawing in my sketchbook.

Now it definitely needed color, that was for sure.
So my brush hovered over my color palette, deciding whether to go for a safe color or something different. I wanted a contrasting color and looked at the red watercolor in my palette and thought: red can be quite aggressive, it’s kind of scary.

If something is scary… Do it anyway!

All the more reason, actually.
It might surprise you how much you can accomplish, when exploring the unknown or unpredictable.
And besides: what is the worst that could happen?
My father taught me something valuable, which he learned from his mom: to remind yourself that “your life doesn’t depend on it”. This is especially true when it’s just a drawing!20160520_aspergeskleur

So I decided to make that red paint bleed all over the page and then also added a layer of red color pencil to deepen the color. And I love where it brought this page.
It may be too bright, and the red doesn’t reflect the delicate flavor of the dish, but it looks great as a sketchbook spread.

What scares you? Go and do something with it. Today.

Oh and if this asparagus drawing tastes like more: join my 4-week online class on illustrating recipes in June. Click here to learn more and sign up!


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14. Draw Tip Tuesday: Watercolours and Pen

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

Here’s a great way to fill a page with lush watercolours.

There’s more where this came from! Follow me on YouTube by clicking here

Do you like the juiciness of all this? Are you thirsty for more?
Then why don’t you join my online art class on foodie-art? It’s called ‘Draw It Like It’s Hot!’ and it starts this Friday in Sketchbook Skool. Let’s make delicious art together. Find out more and join me by following this link.

The post Draw Tip Tuesday: Watercolours and Pen appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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15. Drawing People

Draw Tip: Do you have no idea what to draw? Draw people! It’s a great exercise on drawing features, hands, gestures, postures and shadows, and to try out all kinds of art tools. And: you will never run out of subjects because they are everywhere.



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16. Draw Tip Tuesday – Urban Sketching

…and then suddenly you catch the flu! Well, I did, in any case. I think it’s been 20 since I caught the flu virus that kept me in bed for over a week. It messed with my body, my brain, my schedule, even my drawing skills… And it meant I couldn’t make any new Draw Tip Tuesdays!
I feel a lot better now, thanks, even though I’m still in recovery mode.

So anyway, that’s why today will be Throwback Tuesday – once again, by popular demand: How to draw buildings without feeling intimidated!

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17. 3 Tips To Give Yourself a Kick-In-The-Butt

Because January is now behind us, let’s be honest to ourselves. How are you doing on those new year’s resolutions? Are you still sticking to them?

Last Monday, my online workshop ‘Awesome Art Journaling’ has started. Some of the participants are there because their new year’s resolution was: make more art. They took action by taking the class!

Struggles I see a lot in my classes are things like:

‘I really want to make art, but I don’t have time’, ‘I procrastinate, even though I know I feel happy when I make art’, ‘I think of sitting down to draw, but then I don’t’.

Is any of the above slightly familiar perhaps?

Here are 3 tips to give yourself that extra push and take action

20150718_shoes kopie

1. Take responsibility

You can wait for something to miraculously happen, like the week suddenly turning into 8 days, life getting less busy, or an hour consisting of 80  instead of 60 minutes. But who are you fooling anyway?

I can THINKabout going to the gym, but that’s not going to make my butt any thinner, is it?

The only person who can make it happen is YOU. Don’t blame circumstances or make up excuses. There is always a way.

2. Stop being scared

20160201_JustDoItNow, of course I don’t know what kind of challenge you are aiming for on tackling, but assuming it’s related to creativity: step out of that comfort zone and go for it. You need to follow new paths to learn and grow. And after all: what can REALLY go wrong? It’s just pen and paper. Or paint and canvas, or whatever your poison is.

3. Just Do it.

With every step you take, you will get such a great feeling of accomplishment. Another result: you don’t need to beat yourself up for making excuses. Because you don’t make them anymore.

Need an extra kick-in-the-butt?

Be quick then! ‘Awesome Art Journaling’ started last Monday, and if you haven’t already, this week will be the last chance for you to join in a whole month of making art every single day!

Click here to join now!

The post 3 Tips To Give Yourself a Kick-In-The-Butt appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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18. A Valentine's Day Giveaway

Happy Valentine's Day! I know it was yesterday, but a holiday about Love should last so much longer than one day....how about every day? No? Well, we can start with a week. ;)

Valentine's Day is all about the love we share and feel towards those most important to us. Love is very important to me, to share with others....especially those that I don't know, because everyone needs it. A truth that is always good to share.

Today I want to share something with you, an original drawing...the first original drawing of my Mermaid Portrait series for my upcoming coloring book.

Here's what you need to do to be entered into the Giveaway:

♥︎ Go to my Pinterest page and Follow
♥︎ Pin something you like from my Pinterest page
♥︎ Share here or on my Facebook Page a link to the Pin you liked  

The more you Pin, the more your name is entered!
This will be running through the entire week of Valentine's. Today February 15th through Sunday, February 21st. All entries AFTER midnight February 21st will not make it to the list.

Winner will be announce Monday February 22nd!
winner announced on facebook and here on the blog. winner will also be contacted via message/email

Happy Pinning! ♥︎

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19. Places

I love drawing on location! Lately, I really enjoy drawing interiors, for some reason, and i love the fact that there’s always surprises and interesting corners to draw, when you really take a close look. An extra challenge is also people coming and going, or other things changing while you are drawing a scene. While I was doing the drawing below, the waiter suddenly started to move tables to prepare for a large group coming in later – it messed with my reference points but luckily, I had most of the needed things in there already and didn’t need to bother drawing the tables in their changed positions. It happens, you know – it’s a bit of ‘risk-taking’.  And that’s part of the fun: you can’t always control the situation.20160116_speijkervet2

But what if you can’t go to a cafe, a mall, or some interesting place for a drawing? Well, your living room will do just as well!
Each time I draw our living room, I notice different things. I choose different angles to draw from and it never gets boring.


…especially when living with a musician, there are many instruments scattered around. And again: it’s a bit of risk-taking because you never know if any of the instruments you’re drawing is going to be picked up and played on!


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20. Hooked on Hatching

As a kid in high school, I learned about hatching and cross hatching in art class. I absolutely loved it! A while ago, my dad found this drawing I made in class, for an assignment on cross hatching. I got an 8.2 for it, which is a very fine grade! (homework is graded on a scale of 1-10)20160604_KK1982

I still really do love hatching and crosshatching. Adding it to a line drawing creates such a fantastic sense of light and depth and volume and shape. Another advantage is that it brings you into an almost meditative state.
The drawings below were done in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I ran out of time on that right hand side page, but I quite like the unfinished drawing. I added a splash of watercolour to bring some balance to the journal spread.20160206_rijksmuseum

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21. 3 Daily Habits To Boost Your Creativity

20151130_whatIAteEveryone is creative. Whether you realize it or not, each day you are being creative as you make choices. To name just a few: what wil you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner? What will you wear today? How will you articulate the words in that email you’re sending out?

Still, you may feel your creativity can use a bit of a boost. Because you want to get into the habit of creating, but sometimes you get sloppy and before you know it, there are so many other things that need your attention, and you feel there is no more space for your creative habit.

Here are three tips:

1. Empty Your Mind


Quick blind contour drawings to empty my mind and focus on what I see only

There are so many things going on and so many thoughts racing through your head! They pile up throughout the day. You can make it stop by taking a little bit of time to workout, or meditate for example.

For me, drawing (even if it’s just a few minutes) is a great way to empty my mind: it feels like meditation, and it is a workout for my drawing muscles!
Do it every day – not just occasionally. You will benefit from this. Clearing your head will make you more creative during the day, and you will be able to focus a lot better.

2. Look At What You Have Created

Feeling uninspired? Well, take a look at your sketchbook pages, art journal pages, drawings and/or paintings. You may get some ideas AND you will see how much progress you made throughout time.
It’ll definitely make you feel like picking up a pen and put something down on paper to keep developing your skills.


3. Keep Learning

We’re never done learning. This is true in life, but also when you’re an artist.
So, read books about creativity, find how-to videos on YouTube, attend a life drawing class, or learn online and sign up for an online drawing class.
I will shamelessly plug my own drawing class ‘Just Draw It’ here, because it starts March 7 and you don’t want to miss it.les3_appelsteps9

“Just Draw It” is a small-group online art class.
During this 6-Week course, every week you and your classmates will learn a new technique through examples and instruction, step-by-step video-tutorials and photo-tutorials, assignments, and my personal feedback on the drawings you make in class.
It’s $99 and you will definitely catch the drawing bug!
Click here to find out more and to sign up!

If you follow the three steps above every day, you will give yourself a fantastic gift: your daily creative habit!

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22. How To Draw People

Life drawing sessions are fantastic to practice drawing people, and actually, I’d like to attend them more often. Studying proportions, shadows, staring at a person who gets paid to be stared at during 20, 10 or 5 minute poses, being surrounded by others who are also focusing on the same model… it all adds up to a wonderful experience and great practice. However, unplanned drawing and sketching is more my ‘thing’. I bring my sketchbook with me, everywhere I go, because there will be sketching opportunities on many occasions, even if it was just for a few minutes.

Lynne Chapman‘s book ‘Sketching people‘ has reminded me of how much I love drawing people, and I am enjoying filling my sketchbook pages while observing the people around me.

The best places to draw people are where people are pre-occupied, focused on their phone, ipad, laptop, waiting in line for something, or in converstaion with somebody else:

20160301_schipholUsing a bold, cheap rainbow pencil makes it easier to work quickly and the blunt tip won’t allow me to go into detail.

20160301_manchesterI often choose an aisle seat when I travel by plane or train; so I can get a good view of my fellow travelers – even when it’s from the back

20160305_people1When people stand in line, they will stay still for a little bit, but you know you need to be quick. Sometimes, if I am not fast enough, I just combine two, three or even four persons into one. If people are sitting down in a coffeeshop, cafe or restaurant, check if they have something to drink or eat. Usually you will then know if they will be there for a while and you can get into more detail when drawing them.

20160305_people2Sometimes it’s a bit scary – I feel like a stalker, watching someone intensely for a while, when I draw them. Most of the time, people don’t even notice at all, but if they do and I feel that it annoys them that they’re being watched, I stop and focus on someone or something else. It doesn’t happen often but sometimes people come up to me because they noticed me drawing (them) and they want to see. Then I may feel hesitant to show them because I often don’t go for the likeness, but rather focus on posture, shadows, gesture and line. But it doesn’t matter to them either – they will recognize something about them in the drawing and are flattered to have been the subject – they won’t judge me for not drawing them perfectly!


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23. Draw Tip Tuesday: How To Draw Your Hand

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

A lot of people find it hard to draw hands. It takes practice -and what better way to practice, than using your own hand as a model?

Want more videos? Subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

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24. Drawing Feet

Feet. I know people who are totally grossed out by them. Well, by other people’s feet. I am on the other end of the spectrum. I think feet are intriguing.

Like drawing hands, I love drawing my own feet. They are great for drawing negative spaces, for practiciing gesture drawings, or to study shadows, to name a few things.
They are always there to model for me in many poses, and are willing to go naked; that’s when they look best.

20160227_MyFeetDrawn with a Lamy Safari fountain pen, medium nib, filled with Carbon Ink, coloured with watercolours

Luckily, there are more bare feet in our household, so I get to draw them from many angles, using different art tools to play with.

20160229_MandolinFeetDrawn with a Lamy Safari fountain pen, medium nib

20160227_FeetDrawn with green and blue coloured pencils from prismacolor and a red Staedler ergosoft coloured pencil

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25. Drawing the mondaine things in life

Sometimes the hours go so fast – before I know it, the day is already coming to an end, even though the work hasn’t. It’s easy to complain about being busy and not getting the chance to draw because of it. However, there are always moments throughout the day that offer great sketching opportunities. Like when you’re on the phone, or when you’re waiting for the computer to calculate or restart.

The two drawings below are quite random sketches, at random times. I will keep doing these kinds of drawings and they will add up to a story taking place in my studio over time.20160310_Studio


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