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1. 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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2. 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.

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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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:
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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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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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15. Draw Tip Tuesday: Handlettering

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Here's a quick way to do Handlettering
Do you like my Draw Tip Tuesday Videos? You may be interested in more then: Head on over to my website, koosjekoene.nl to find out about the classes that I teach!

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16. A Selfie A Day

Almost there.
When I started the sketchbook I'm currently working in, without really thinking about it, I filled the first few pages with self portraits. That's when I unintentionally started a new project. Because when I flipped through those first few pages, they gave me an idea: I committed myself to make a self portrait each day in this sketchbook. I would still be using the book as an artjournal, so was still 'allowed' tp make all kinds of other sketches and drawings in it, but it would also become my 'selfie a day' journal.

The sketchbook is now almost finished. Just a few pages to go.
Here's an update of some of the portraits I hadn't shared yet before.

Some are really to be proud of, some are rushed or uninspired. Some don't look like me at all, and others are fun experiments with new techniques or styles.

In the upcoming kourse of Sketchbook Skool, themed 'Seeing', I talk about how we see ourselves and about drawing self portraits.
There's an awesome line-up of teachers in this kourse:
Danny Gregory will show you how your eyes and brain can collaborate better when we draw.
Cathy Johnson will change how you see nature. 
Brenda Swenson shows you how to see your own life through your sketchbook's pages. 
Liz Steel will forever change how you see building and teacups. 
And Andrea Joseph will help you see more in-depth than you ever thought possible.
You can sign up for 'Seeing' right now by clicking here!

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17. it's a dogs life

Here's a little sketchbook drawing - the likes of which I rarely get the time to make these days.
Sometimes I long for those days when I was just drawing and blogging for fun. But then I remember that I'm making a living (just about) (ish) at it these days and what could be better than that?

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18. Sketchcrawl

At the moment, my online drawing course 'Just Draw It' is running with another lovely group of participants. In their introduction, some of them said they would love to get out on a sketchcrawl or do some urban sketching, but they're a bit intimidated by the idea of drawing in public.
So after a few weeks of drawing exercises and expanding their skills, I declared June 7 the Just-Draw-It-sketchcrawl-day. 
I invited all participants, whichever part of the world they are in, to join me and head out to draw!
Then afterwards, we would all share the results. Fun! These are my drawings of the day.

I visited my friend Yvonne. In March, she gave birth to her second son, and I hadn't even seen him yet! A beautiful baby boy. After a lot of catching up and chatting, we took out our sketchbooks and sat down in her garden (yup, sure, that also counts as urban sketching! why not?) and sketched. It was warm and sunny and it felt like summer. There was a certain quietness and zen feeling in the garden and we both really enjoyed filling our pages. 
Of course I did my daily selfie too. 

Back in Amsterdam, I sat on the terrace of a restaurant near by my house, to have a drink and dinner with my husband. Summer in Amsterdam feels like holiday - even in my own neighbourhood!

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19. More Journal Pages

Film Themed Selfie of Heisenberg
(Breaking Bad, not a film, but a show... I can make up my own rules, can't I?)
And the rest doesn't need any explanation.
Except that I suspect I have a bad breath, by the looks of Humphrey.

-A quick self portrait, making a face.
-On request: Film-Themed Selfie: Grease! Well. Yeah.
-And a goofie looking Spiderman-Film-Themed selfie
-Very happy with the Street corner drawing,
and as you can see: sometimes I feel like I am going nuts.

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20. SketchCrawling in the Rain

I discovered the monumental and slightly rusty underbelly of Castlefield a couple of months back, when I was invited a to run a SketchCrawl for SCBWI. On that day, we were supposed to be drawing inside MOSI, so I got less than an hour to explore outdoors with my sketchbook, but I was determined to go back and spend a bit more time, so chose it as the location for this month's SketchCrawl North meeting.

What I didn't know, was that the weather forecast was going to be heavy rain on and off all day, with the possibility of thunder and lightning at lunchtime. Great.

Come Saturday, four of us left behind the irritatingly blue skies and glorious sunshine of Sheffield and took the train to Manchester. It was already raining when we met up with a dozen others outside Deansgate station. 

Most of the group decided to opt for the warmth of MOSI, but a few of us tough-nuts braved it, sheltering under the railway arches. I love the strong contrasts you get, even in bleak, grey conditions. I managed the painting at the top, but the rain was getting heavier. It was splashing in under the arch so I had to keep moving further and further back. I just about got finished by the time we decided to give it up and get a coffee to warm up.

We headed for MOSI, where we discovered lots of our team in the cafe, luxuriating in soft sofas and painting the view out of the huge, picture windows. There was no soft space left, so I sat on the floor again (my poor bottom) and did the sketch above.

I had booked Dukes 92 for lunch, which had a huge table we could share. By now though our numbers had swelled to over 20, so we expanded to two tables, scoffing and chatting and watching Matthew draw his cooling food (as always). 

The sun was out now, so I decided to go back to the railway for another go at my beloved bridges. I braved a view that had me sitting out in the middle of the pavement so, naturally, it began raining again after about 30 minutes! I scurried back under my arch and tried to finish off the painting above, but soon retreated back to MOSI. 

I didn't want to draw the museum's exhibits, but I remembered this wonderful, Victorian window in the Air and Space building (the same iron and glass building I drew the outside of, from the cafe). 

I got lots of attention, including a little boy of about five: "How much do you sell your paintings for?". He told me he 'didn't paint as much as he would like' and that he 'liked collection art' (!)

I laboured too long over the window and was getting bored with all the detail. I looked at my watch - only about 5 minutes before I had to leave to meet the others back at Dukes 92 for the sharing session. I desperately needed to draw something less fussy, so I quickly sketched what was in front of me, which I think might be a microlight (no time to check), then rushed off. 

As usual, we all thoroughly enjoyed admiring each other's work from the day, sneaking a look back through all the sketchbooks and swapping sketching tips. 

I had a new sketching pen with me, which I was given by Super 5, one of the sponsors of the forthcoming Usk Symposium

I didn't get around to using it during the day, so did a quick trial in the bar, sketching a few people around the table, before lending it to various others to have a go. It's very smooth and glides beautifully across the paper in all directions. There's a raffle to win one if you are interested (deadline May 30th). It gives a subtly variable line as you can see in the sketch, which I think really adds life to a drawing. It's not as wide a variance as my trusty Sailor though. It depends what you are after.

Thanks to everyone who turned up on Saturday, despite the dreadful forecast, and especially to the new members and to those from the Manchester Urban Sketchers group who joined us. One of the lovely things about SketchCrawling is all the interesting new people you get to hang out with.

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21. Journal Pages

Phew, there's so much awesomeness going on.
The very first semester of Sketchbook Skool has just finished and it was a tremendous succes. We are now working on all the good stuff coming up in the second kourse, which has the theme 'Seeing'.
Just last weekend, Andrea Joseph (I know, she is an amazing illustrator!!) came over to Amsterdam, and she and I spent the weekend, filming the videos for her klass in the upcoming kourse. I got to see some (no, a lot) of her magic and I hope it rubbed off just a little on me.

It was hard work, but we also had a lot of fun, and I was glad that she enjoyed it after all, even though she was very hesitant towards the whole filming bit of the klass. It was great to spend the weekend with her. We had fun, and she really is a lovely person.
I have a huge pile of editing work to do now, but the things she showed in front of the camera are very inspiring and I know the whole skool is gonna love it. So... if you haven't signed up for Sketchbook Skool yet: make sure to get yourself a seat in klass! The kourse starts July 4 and you can click here to find out more and enroll right away.

In the meantime, Spring is here, and I am teaching a fun workshop to start (and keep) art journaling:

The workshop starts May 26, and will be running for 4 weeks. After that, I will give you a workbook to take home and keep going on your new daily drawing habit.
So what are you waiting for? For only $69, you will get 4 weeks of fun, full of drawing tips, motivation and a kick-in-the butt for those procrastinators out there.

Does this post look like an advertisement? Sorry about that, if you don't like it. It's just that I am just so excited about the online classes, and I want to share it with everyone!

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22. Film Themed Selfies in my journal

In my previous posts, I've talked about my ongoing self portrait project, and how I stumbled into an extra challenge of doing Film Themed Selfies.
So far, I've been pretty devoted doing these. I am doing a self portrait each day, and if I feel like it, I'll give it a whirl and draw myself as a film character.
Below, you'll hopefully recognize Sandy from Grease, and a scene from Spiderman too...

Some days are better than others. Didn't really like the muddy result of the 'Pride and Prejudice' Selfie, and the whole sketchbook spread is kind of bland. But on Facebook, I posted that quick selfie on the bottom left, and someone said: is that Nurse Ratched? Which gave me an idea for the next journal entry!

So there she is. And on Facebook, someone else suggested I could do a 'Rocky' selfie. So I did. I made that one after a super intensive thai boxing training, so yeah, I could really bring that feeling of triumph onto the paper.

Just so you know: I am teaching a 4-week online workshop on art journaling, starting 26 May. If you'd like to join for only $69, click here

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23. Portraits, Portraits, Portraits

Am I obsessed? Probably. But I'm having fun, and that's important.

More selfies, yes!
Film themed, most of these. Can you recognize the movies?

Nope, the one in the middle below is not Wolf Man themed - it was a selfie I did of myself making a face, but I messed it up... ah well.

Oh and the one below on the bottom right is not Film Themed either. That's just what I look like right after waking up: wrinkled up.

Wether I'm obsessed with making selfies or with filling journal pages... it doesn't really matter. I can share some tips on how to start a daily drawing habit, and how to keep it. This Monday my online workshop Awesome Art Journaling starts. It runs for 4 weeks and costs $69.
Click here to get more info and to join me.

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24. Today's recipe!

You can find this recipe, and many others on www.theydrawandcook.com

I illustrated this recipe during 'Draw it Like It's Hot', the online workshop on drawing food and illustrating recipes. I tested this recipe for several friends, and they all got very greedy. So here's a warning: these bonbons are seriously irresistible.

The workshop has just ended, but I will be teaching a new round of illustrating recipes, starting June 9. It's 4 weeks of fun for just $69. Click here to enroll today.

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25. Drawing Live Music - Ireby Festival 2014

I absolutely love drawing live music. There something special about twinning the two activities. I generally bob about while I am drawing and, the more into it and mobile I am, the more alive the drawings become. I find this kind of sketching makes me feel at one with the music, in the same way that dancing does. It's pretty intense, but great fun!

John and I have friends up in the north of Cumbria and every year at this time, we pack our warm jumpers and my sketching kit and drive up to stay the weekend and go to the lovely Ireby Music Festival with our friends.

The whole thing takes place in the tiny village of Ireby. They use the village hall, the church and the tiny (and very old) chapel in the middle of a field, but they also create a main stage inside a big marque on the hill above the village, overlooking some pretty dramatic scenery (although this year we could mostly see rain and cloud).

I hate not being close enough to make out the detail, so I often go up to the front and sit on the floor right by the stage. Luckily Ireby is the sort of place you can do that. I often get to share my spot with young children, which is fun, because they are of course very interested in what I'm up to.

While I was working on these three of 'Stark', a little boy kept telling me the bits I had missed. He had to lean in and shout into my ear every time, so I could hear him above the music ('Aren't you going to put the star on?'... 'Don't forget his tatoo'... 'What about his earpiece?'...). Very cute, if a bit distracting.

To do these, I had to kneel in a narrow gap at the feet of the front row of the audience (fortunately I had my little camper's mat for my knees). 

I was okay for a while, but by the time the next set got underway, I discovered I had lost all feeling in my feet and of course my legs were locked into position.  Somebody took pity on me and found me a seat on the front row, although standing up to manoeuvre myself into it was interesting!

The Hut People were slightly bonkers. One played percussion from around the world, while the other played the accordion and demonstrated French Canadian foot percussion - a cross between very fast tap dancing and Irish dancing, complete with the high-kicks.

On Friday night and Saturday night everyone packs into the marque. I was on the floor at the front once again for The Bills, the final act of the festival. They were fabulous: a fusion of all sorts. I had a wonderful time, scribbling away and jiggling around like a thing possessed, but had to give up drawing at the end and join the boppers, before I got trampled. To be honest, I am just as happy jumping about, so that was the perfect end. 

If you would like to see the rest of the drawings I did at the festival, as well as other sketches of music events, check out my new Live Music Sketchbook on the website.

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