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1. Draw Tip Tuesday: DIY Holiday Greetings

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
The pre-holiday-season-days can be so crazy, and you might even forget someone to send a Christmas card to.
Not to worry, just craft one yourself - it’ll be the best personal holiday wish they will receive!

And... if you're looking for a great holiday gift for yourself or a loved one: check out my online classes:
-Awesome Art Journaling; kick off the new year by filling your journal pages every day.
Starts January 5. Click here to find out more and to enroll in Awesome Art Journaling
-Just Draw It!; the 11th edition of the onine drawing course that'll make you surprise yourself.
Starts February 2. Click here to find out more and enroll in Just Draw It! 
-Draw it like it's Hot; drawing food and illustrating recipes
Starts March 2. Click here to find out more and enroll in Draw It Like It's Hot!
All these classes are taught in limited groups, so I can personally guide every participant and give my feedback on everything that's shared.
-How to design a character - the Workshop; design your own children's book character or cartoon character
This course is self-led, and on-demand, which means you can start RIGHT NOW! Click here to find out more and enroll in How to Design a Character 

Happy Holidays!

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2. 3 ways to stay sane

Sometimes it's all just a bit much. (Especially on Mondays.) 

You wake up to a brand new day, happy as can be, a fresh to-do-list waiting for you to start on after breakfast. All is well. But then something small happens that interferes with your mood.
 Like: You throw something in the garbage can that's already a bit too full, and because of that, you miss! Even before your first sip of coffee, you're mopping the kitchen floor. Grrrr.
 Or: You know you shouldn't, but you open your email while waiting for the kettle to boil... and there's an alarming email in there with a problem that needs to be fixed urgently. So much for enjoying your breakfast without hurry.
 Or: You planned to get out to run some errands, look out of the window and see the driveway all covered in snow. "Well that's just a great outlook," you hear yourself grown, "shovelling snow right after breakfast!"
Yeah, you know. Those kinds of things...
Don't let them ruin your day!
Here are three things you could do to stay sane:

Sometimes something small happens that can totally interfere with your good mood. Don't let it ruin your day.
*1 Sit down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Take out your smartphone, switch on the camera, make a face that represents your mood and take a selfie. Then, laugh about it. I know you don't want to, but if you put things in perspective - it's not that bad. You'll survive.
Use the photo to draw a selfie from. You'll feel so much better when you're drawing!
20141129 kickboxing
*2 Plan something that takes your mind off of things. It could be making a selfie drawing like above, or a chat with a friend, but for me, working out is also a great outlet. I run, but I also do kickbox trainings and, a one-hour training really empties my mind completely.
20141130 mokapot
*3 Treat yourself.
It can be something small, like making yourself a fabulous cup of coffee and enjoy every sip of it.
Or, get inspired! Buy yourself something to look forward to:
get help reaching your artistic goals for the new year.
I'd love to help you with that. Click here to register for one of my online classes.
Oh and don't forget: keep breathing. Even if the day doesn't turn out the way you expected, you'll be fine. You can change the mood again.
And even when on some days it feels really hard to get over a threshold; take every opportunity to Make Awesome Art.
You can do it.

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3. Just Draw It! The Sketchcrawl.

Some of the participants in my current online course JustDraw It, said they would love to go out and sketch and/or try your hand at some urban sketching. Now that we're well on our way into the course, it was time to pluck up the courage, head out and do a world wide JustDrawIt SketchCrawl together.

The idea of this was to all head outside on the same day, and sketch in public! We may all live in different parts of the globe, but still, we're doing it together. For some people this may be a bit scary, but doing it together, helps.
So I declared Saturday, December 6, to be JDI-SketchCrawl Day
. People from around could join me in Amsterdam, others would 'crawl' in their own corner of the world.

A nice group of Dutchies gathered, to sketch together. It was a great afternoon, fuelled by cappuccinos and fresh mint teas, and surrounded by interesting people to draw and a whole lot of art supplies.

At these occasions, I always feel very distracted, and my drawings are interrupted many times. It shows in the drawings, but the nice thing is: I can remember the intertuptions and the converstaions I had, through looking at these pages. Great fresh memories added in my sketchbook!

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4. Not a girly kind of girl

In case you haven't noticed, I am not a 'girly' kind of girl. Even though I have the tendency to squeal when I see a mouse, I like to see myself as kind of tough. Let's just say I combine feminine things with boyish play. That's why I drew my nailpolished hands, binding wraps for my weekly kickboxtraining.

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5. Ready for Take off?

Draw Tip:
No time to draw? Draw while you're travelling!

What do you do when you are on your way somewhere? Stare out of the window? Playing a game on your phone? Text messaging? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Great ways to spend your time, but why don't you consider taking your sketchbook with you when commuting? It's a great excuse for people watching, and to get some art journaling done. 

Just a 10 minute train ride can get you going and give you great practice. Long distance flights are perfect to really take your time to study shapes, gestures and forget about everything else.

I teach an online workshop to get you going on your daily art habit. "Awesome Art Journaling" starts TOMORROW, costs $69 for 4 weeks of videos, my personal feedback and support, and lots of tips, tricks and extras! What are you waiting for? Join me in a month of Awesome Art Journaling by clicking here

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6. Nothing to draw? Look out of the window!

Art Journaling can be about ANYTHING.
You think you have nothing to draw? Look out of the window and draw.

My online workshop 'Awesome Art Journaling' starts TODAY. Join me in 4 weeks of drawing fun and a little kick-in-the-but to make awesome art every day.

4 weeks. Tips, tricks, videos, supportive class mates, and personal feedback from me. For only $69
What are you still waiting for? Click here to enroll now

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7. Trippin'

At the moment, I am using a canson sketchbook. I often use Moleskine books, because of their wonderful quality, and because they are easy to find here in the Netherlands. 
But every now and then, I want an extra challenge, and when I find new sketchbooks that look and feel right, I buy and try them. 
In fact, when I was in New York a few weeks ago, I visited 3(!) art supply shops and came back to Amsterdam with a huge stack of sketchbooks, so I have a supply for quite a lot of months to come.

Back to my Canson sketchbook. I'm not too fond of it. The paper is a bit too thin, so watercolorus make the pages wrinkle. I don't mind that really, but somehow, the book and I haven't become the best of friends, even though often, when I try a new book, it takes a few pages of getting used to each other. this one: not so much. Maybe it's also because I've been in a rollercoaster of things happening in my life, and many pages in this sketchbook are filled with half-hearted drawings or hasty sketches. Which is a shame. 
On the other hand, it's a reflection of my state of mind as well...
And then there is this unwritten rule I keep: I need to fill a sketchbook before I start a new one. So I keep on going, taking the challenge.

Anyway, this drawing here, is my favorite drawing in this sketchbook so far.
It was in Switzerland. We (my husband, his cousin, and I) had a few hours drive from Bern to Davos. Road trippin'!
I requested to sit in the back ("are you sure?"), so I could retreat a little to do some work on my laptop without being anti-social, with a rewarding amount of time left, to make a drawing of my travel companions. Glad I don't get car sick! Lucky me.
 Done with a brown fineliner and a pentel brown ink brushpen.

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8. Travel Journal pages

Yesterday, I posted that road trip drawing I did in Switzerland. Here is a bunch of other drawings I did during my stay in Switzerland in October:

Sketching Family

Out for lunch in St. Gallen on a rainy day. The women who owned the place saw what I was doing, and she kept grabbed my Sketchbook (while I was drawing!), bringing it to the back of the restaurant to show her employees. It was very funny and it was lovely to see how impressed she was with this mediocre sketch.

The longer I looked at this church, the stranger I found its architecture, with unexpected corners everywhere.
My husband's feet and a pot of tea back home.

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9. Art Journal Pages

 These are the art journal pages I did in Clermont-Ferrand last weekend:
The flight took about 1.5 hour, so I had a nice pocket of time to draw my surroundings. I felt the guy next to me eying the pages curiously, but he didn't dare saying anything. I wonder if he would have, if I had also added colour, pulling out waterbrush and mini watercolor kit... The flight was a bit bumpy at some points, so here and there the lines are a bit wobbly, which, in my eyes, adds character to this drawing.
Haven't worn any other shoes since buying these - I totally love them!

What a treasure, this small tea shop around the corner of the Cathedral! I came back the next day again to warm up after spending several hours outside, and chatted with the owner and her daughter. I Showed them my sketchbook and talked about the event 'Rendez-vous du carnet de Voyage', which I was there for.
Stopped for a quick coffee here and drew the people. When I left, I discovered the bar was called 'Bar Des Beaux Arts': Bar Of Fine Arts. Perfect for this weekend full of inspiration and art.

A quick drawing I did while waiting for my lunch. I used one of those multicoloured pencils, I found at a museum shop when I was in Madrid this spring.

I just had to stop to draw this cute cafe in the middle of Jardin Lecoq from the 1930s. There were so many bright reds there, that contrasted wonderfully with the green window frames. I limited myself to a red, green and blue pencil.

I hardly ever do this: take a photo of a building, view or street, and then draw from that for reference. But now I did. I had a lovely walk around town and took some pictures on my way. Then it started to get dark and wanted to enjoy a relaxed last evening in my hotel room. There, I used the photos for reference, and really enjoyed the different way of looking at shapes and shadows, then when drawing 'live'. I added the drawing of the door the next morning, in the train. Again, it was a bit of a bumpy flight, and it came out way wobblier than I intended.
...and a drawing on the flight back home to Amsterdam on Monday morning, where a pile of work was waiting for me!

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10. Hatching and Sketching

Sometimes, at the end of the day when it's already dark, I get frustrated that I still didn't get my daily drawing done. So then I just sit down, put something in front of me, place a lamp beside/above it and draw. I made this drawing of a pair of shoes, while sitting on the couch, sipping a cup of herbal tea and watching a movie on tv with one eye. It was wonderful to be absorbed in the hatching. Done with a fountain pen (Lamy safary) filled with carbon ink:
More Hatching! I took out a good old black Bic ballpoint pen, and started drawing the condiments on the table of a Sechuan restaurant in the centre of Amsterdam, while waiting for my dinner companion, who called to say that he was running a little later. That gave me 15 minutes of drawing time. So I got the basics in, took a picture with my phone for reference, and later that night when I got back home, I sat up in bed and did the rest of the hatching. It was late, I was tired, and it was so relaxing, at some point I felt myself actually dozing off while hatching!!
The next day, I looked at it again and saw it needed a little bit of background or colour so I added the yellow watercolour:

There is ALWAYS something interesting to draw. And if you really want to - you can find and make time for it. Even a quick 5-minute scribble can be very rewarding.

If you need a little help, making time to do what you love, and to fill your art journal pages every day, you can still join my 4-week online workshop 'Awesome Art Journaling' for only $69. I will guide you through those weeks and give you a kickstart on a daily drawing habit. 
Join me by clicking here.

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11. Selfie

It had been a while since I  did a self portait. So what better reason to do one, than a fresh hair cut?
Before going to the hair dresser, I sat down and treated myself to a cup of tea. And after returning home -with bangs- I took out a bic ballpoint pen, and started drawing a selfie. The top half actually has a pretty good resemblance. But the nose, mount and chin are a bit 'off'.

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12. How many hats do you get to wear?

20141127 hats

How many hats do you get to wear?

I know I need more shelves to fit all the hats on, that I get to wear throughout the day. On the first page of my brand new sketchbook, I drew just a selection of all the hats that fit me. If I could have fit more on the page, I could've gone on for quite a while.
You probably have many roles in life too; you're an artist, someone's child, maybe you are a caretaker, a friend, a colleague, you may be a parent... and since we're all still learning in life, you're a student too.
Sometimes life is overwhelming, at least that's how I feel.
Life can get so crazy and busy, that there's hardly any time to live it.
Still, we need to stay focused on what's really important in life, and on doing what we love.
That's how I managed to illustrate the recipe below, by just making use of small pockets of time throughout the week. 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and by the end of the week I was happy with the result. And what a treat to test the recipe, to make sure the measurements were right!
So here you go, the recipe for a sweet and comforting choc-o-holic treat. (No sugar added, so it's good for you too!) If you have time to try it: enjoy.
The recipe is published on www.theydrawandcook.com
Even with the busy holiday season coming up, whatever you do, you can always find time to Make Awesome Art.
Schermafbeelding 2014-11-29 om 10.31.57
Finally I planned and scheduled the new classes for 2015. So if you have any new year's resolutions for a year full of creativity; I'll be happy to help you to get you going and to keep you going!
You can get yourself a seat in class by enrolling today. (click here)

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13. 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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14. Mini Sketches

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

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15. 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.
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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16. 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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17. 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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18. Creative entrepreneurship

One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur, is that you can work whenever, and where ever you want. That can also be a bit tricky, because that may result in not really having a start or an end of the working day. But overall, since I invested in a laptop, I am quite enjoying the freedom. So now I am 'testing' places in Amsterdam for good coffee and/or food, and a good wifi connection - a rare combination.


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19. People!

When I used to work for a boss, in an office cubicle, not so long ago, I used to commute to work. I took the subway and always carried a sketchbook with me to study and sketch the people around me. Waiting on the train platform or minding their own businesses in the carriage.
I don't miss that job. But sometimes I do miss the people-drawing-practice.

So, together with my sketch pal Yvonne, I went on an adventure to the Amsterdam Central Station and found a great spot on the first floor, right next to the monitors with the time tables for the departing trains. And drew this:

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20. Mondays

Me and Mondays, we often aren't the best of friends.
Instead of  'Ahh, Monday, a fresh start!', it often feels like: I have a huge to-do list and are already behind on it during breakfast.

What's your least favourite day, and why?

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21. Green Light for My Urban Sketching Book!

This morning I got some great news - the Urban Sketching book that I am writing, about how to sketch people, has got the go-ahead! 

If you remember, at the beginning of the summer, I was commissioned to write a proposal and then create several sample spreads, to be used by my publisher as a presentation, to show at Frankfurt International Book Fair. They needed to get a US co-edition signed up, to make the project financially feasible and yesterday the US publisher Barrons signed on the dotted line, so we're off!

Which is fantastic news, but of course it means I am going to be pretty busy very soon, because it will be running alongside the mural project. They are both going to keep me out of trouble right through until next summer.

I will of course keep you posted about how it's all going, but the proposed schedule for the book is amazingly quick - the idea is to have it out by Christmas 2015. So, Christmas pressies all round?

These people sketches were ones done yesterday on a train to Wakefield. The quotes are snatches of conversation I was ear-wigging, from a man behind me somewhere. Surreal stuff!

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22. Going out? Take your sketchbook.

Did you know that bringing a sketchbook with you to a cafe or restaurant is a fantastic excuse to spy on people while you sip your drink? meanwhile, it is also a perfect practice to draw people and study proportions, gestures and postures.

Do you feel intimidated by drawing in public? Or do you feel uncomfortable drawing people? I can help you with that!
This Monday, my online drawing course "Just Draw It" starts: it's a 5-week course with drawing techniques and simple approaches to tackle your fears and flaws. Let's do this together!
For $99 you are in for lots of drawing fun with guaranteed feedback from your teacher: moi.
What are you waiting for? Click here for more info and to enroll today!

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23. Draw Tip Tuesday - some basics

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Just touching upon a few basics for you today.

If you want to learn more, you can still join my online drawing course 'Just Draw It!'
Click here to enroll.

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24. No time to draw? Then MAKE time!

"I love drawing, but I just don't have time for it"

It's quite possible you say this, or a similar version of this sentence, every so often.
I will be the first to admit that I make a complaint like this regularly. As soon as I hear myself saying this, I tell myself to stop complaining and to just MAKE time.
It's not that hard. I get my daily drawings done during my lunch break, or when going out for a coffee-break.

And in weekends or evenings, instead of watching crappy tv shows, I will take time to make more time consuming drawings.
I'm just saying, do whatever you want with this. But I know you can do this too. You just need to be a little clever with your schedule and time.

If you need a little kick-in-the-butt to get that creative habit going, you can join my online workshop 'Awesome Art Journaling'. For only $69 you will drawing for four weeks and get those creative juices flowing! It starts November 17. Click here for more info and to enroll now

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25. No inspiration? Sit down and draw!

So you have your sketchbook or artjournal with at all times, just in case. But then, you hear yourself think: "I have no inspiration." or "There's nothing to draw."

Well, think again. Or better yet: Sit down. And draw.

This drawing, for example, was done on a lazy evening when visiting family. Videos were playing, every now and then a music instrument was picked up and played on, we were laughing and chatting. I sat in the corner of the couch and simply drew my surroundings.
That's it. We need to stop thinking and just do it. Sit down. And draw.

With that attitude, you can create pages in your art journal that contain great memories that photos could never cover. In each page, you will learn new things and make progress. Some you will like more than others, but whatever the results are: your life is SO worth journaling about!

You can make it a habit, and in my online workshop "Awesome Art Journaling", I guide you through 4 weeks of drawing fun. You'll get tips and tricks, and a push to make awesome art every day.
It starts this Monday November 17. Warning: it's quite possible you will catch the sketchbug!
Join me for only $69 by clicking here.

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