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Does every single art journal page have to be important and meaningful? Do you need to tell a special story? Does the subject have to contain a certain memory or value?
My answer to all of these questions is: NO.
It would give so much pressure, to make each page full of value, starting out with a concept and working towards a certain, desired end result. No surprises, just sort of an assignment. While drawing is just playing - it's not an assignment or obligation.
There is nothing wrong with drawing mondaine things. They are there, they are part of your life. They are worth sketching. And therefore, I believe each drawing you make already IS meaningful, whether you intend it to be or not.
Sometimes you just need to draw to stay sane. To have fun. And that, in my humble opinion, is most important.
I love drawing bicycles.
Whenever I post a bicycle drawing here on my blog, on Instagram
- there’s always at least one person who comments by saying how hard bicycles are to draw.
Are they really?They are just shapes. You start with a line, then add another line, next to it, and another, adding more lines as you go.
With each line your drawing grows. Whether the lines are confident or not, bold or sketchy, soft or strong… that all depends on your style and even your mood. The line though, makes the drawing yours. Nobody else could have drawn it the way you did.
Of course it takes practice.
It took me a long time before I would draw bicycles (or any other subject, for that matter) without hesitating.
I don’t know how many bike handles and bicycle seats I sketched, I must have drawn hundreds of wonky wheels, and many, many spokes.
Illustrator Miguel Herranz
inspired me years ago, when he posted a drawing of a whole bunch of bicycles on his blog, and explained how he made use of the negative spaces. Those negative spaces (the spaces around the subject) are what you need to focus on. If you draw the shapes around the actual thing you are trying to draw, you will see the subject ‘appear’ between these shapes.
Avoiding drawing bicycles is just silly when you live in Amsterdam. There are bicycles everywhere, and they are kind of iconic for the city as well. So after reading that blogpost I realized: “I can totally do that’.
I expected to be challenged, but I also knew that all new things take time, focus, and a little help from other artists
- like Miguel.
This post isn’t about bicycles, you know that.
It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and then experiencing that it wasn’t as scary as you thought. Actually - it’s a lot of fun
I love this quote by Alfred A. Montapert: "Expect problems and eat them for breakfast."
My online drawing course "Just Draw It!" has been running over the past 6 weeks.
The group of participants has been awesome! They worked on their assignments with a lot of excitement, putting a lot of time and effort in practicing the techniques they were learning.
They're energy sparked on to me each time I logged in to the course platform, to give them feedback and help them to take their drawings onto the next level. It's fantastic to see people's skills grow, and seeing the drawings develop in such a short amount of time!
"Just Draw It" is designed to make you more confident about drawing by taking small steps at a time. Quite a lot of participants have mentioned in their introductions that they would love to try drawing in public, but they just feel it's too scary or intimidating, they don't feel confident enough.
To take that step out of the comfort zone, at the end of this course I declared today to be 'Just Draw It Sketchcrawl Day'.
All participants of the online drawing class were heading 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. It's a comforting and empowering thought that while you are putting your lines on paper, your class mates are doing the same thing in their own corner of the world.
So that's what I did. I headed out with my sketchbook, made sure to stay caffeinated, and drew. I had a fantastic morning!
|I started my 'sketchcrawl' at one of the many Saturday markets in Amsterdam. I sat on stone steps, on a folded cardboard box from the flower market stall so I wouldn't get super cold quickly.|
|Of course I DID get cold but that was a great excuse to 'crawl' towards a nice and warm place to sip a cappuccino while sketching the people around me. I used a multi coloured colour pencil.|
|I really enjoyed doing those quick people sketches so I filled another page and used coloured pencils and a grey brush marker to add a bit of colour. Then I needed a change of scenery so I 'crawled' to the busy indoor market, and used colour pencils to sketch people there.|
Tip: to make sure you don't forget about recipes you like or tasty dishes you tried: draw them!
It's a great opportunity to fill a journal page, and to get those measurements and ingredients writen down.
You could even dedicate a special sketchbook, to collect recipes.
By: Koosje Koene,
Blog: Koosje Koene
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I did something crazy last week.
I spent a week in Thailand for a Muay Thai Training Camp: 6 days in a row, 2 trainings a day of each 2 hours. Crazy, right?
Why in heaven's name would I do this? Well... sometimes you just gotta step out of your comfort zone completely to learn new things, to grow, to face fears.
I have been doing some Muay Thai training here in Amsterdam for a while (a girl needs a hobby and a workout next to all the drawing after all!), but had NO idea what to expect of this Thai gym and its trainers. I was SO scared! But I decided to do it anyway. Just because I wanted to know what it would be like. Let me tell you, there were quite a lot of moments I caught myself thinking: ‘um, why did I want to do this again?’. That's what happens if you take a big leap out of the familiar, out of your comfort zone.
Yes, it was exhausting and it was crazy, but each day after training I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and pride. And it made me stronger - not just physically, but especially mentally. And I even got some drawing done between trainings as well; what a delight!
Curious to see what trainings look like? Watch this video of the Gym I went to:
Familiar things are safe. New things can be scary. When you want to learn something new, you have no idea what’s going to happen and you feel like you have no control at all. Those new things are outside of your comfort zone.
Now, you have a choice.
You could say: ‘I don’t feel like facing my fears. I’d rather stay inside my comfort zone and keep doing the things I already know.’_Sure, you could do that. However, that can become kind of boring don’t you agree?
Whether it’s trying a new drawing technique, starting a new art journal, picking up a challenging topic to draw, or even something completely unrelated to art and creativity - leaving your comfort zone will make you stronger. And there's nobody else to take that step but you.
Every time I take up a new challenge on drawing, or when I want to learn a new technique that is unfamiliar - I think: 'okay so this feels kind of scary, but what exactly do I have to loose?' Messing up an art journal page is nothing you can’t overcome, so let’s just go for it! Drawing people on the streets, learning to draw buildings, spending hours to make an elaborate drawing with colour pencils, diving right into a drawing with pen with no chance to erase lines… I can do all these things with a lot of joy now, although once they all scared me like crazy.
By stepping out of your comfort zone, you make the comfort zone larger. And you can keep making it larger, because there are so many other things to learn. Both creatively as in life in general!
(If you're interested in a little adventure I went on, which was completely out of my comfort zone - you can read all about it on my blog
Here are 5 reasons why you should step out of your comfort zone:
-It’s right where the magic happens
By magic I mean: things that make life worthwhile and interesting. And you’ll see that facing your fears makes you realize that some things aren’t that scary after all.
-You will feel proud
Whether the result is like anything you expected - just DOING it, will give you a great sense of accomplishment
-It’ll help you learn and grow
By doing familiar things, you won’t be learning as much. As soon as you pluck the courage to do something new, you are learning and growing - and quicker than you may think
-You will let go of perfection
Because you don’t know what to expect on beforehand, all you can do is just dive in without expectations. a great way to fight perfection!
-You will inspire others
Even though you’re doing this for YOU, others will notice your courage and will feel inspired to try something new too.
So let’s be courageous.
You don’t need to take huge leaps at a time. Just dipping your toe in first is a fantastic start! Once you discover that doing new things don’t kill you, you may get more courageous and start exploring even further out of your comfort zone - into the magic!
What will you do today to make a little bit of magic happen?
No thanks I don't feel like talking about the above. Still, I wanted to share this art journal page with you, and give you a few draw tips:Tip 1
Whatever is going on in your life - draw anyway
make you feel better, even if it's just a little - it'll get your mind off of things for a moment.Tip 2
Hanging out with other sketchers is also very helpful
- I felt lucky to join the latest Amsterdam Sketchcrawl. Lots of chatting plus some sketching - both of Amsterdam and of my fellow sketchers:
|The Prinsengracht (canal) and some fellow sketchers at the quai side|
|Sipping fresh mint tea, chatting about art supplies, drawing, and sketching each other|
|Sitting at the bar - I am still planning to add a bit of text (a conversatiuon I overheard while I was sitting there) in the white area on the right page|
In case you're concerned: I am feeling much better now.Tip 3
Buy yourself a little art supply present
- it'll want you try it and before you know it, you are experimenting and playing... which will make you feel so good!
I bought a bottle of brown ink, filled my fountain pen with it and did a selfie - I enjoyed every minute of it.
We all want the perfect circumstances. The perfect tools. The right time and place and the most interesting and meaningful subject to draw. But sometimes you just need to get over your perfectionistic self, and just sit down and draw. I filled this sketchbook spread while sipping a take away coffee on the Amsterdam Leidseplein. I usually never hang out there (because it's kinda touristy and busy) but circumstances brought me there so I just started to draw what was in front of me and highly enjoyed it.
Early mornings can be great. At least, when you're a morning person, like I am. I love going for an early morning run while watching the world around me waking up, write up a blogpost or squeeze in a quick drawing during breakfast.
I don't even really think about the subject I draw at the breakfast table. Usually it's just what's right in fron of me.
Sometimes it's my husband, checking his email after he made us coffee...
... a selfie in the reflection of the espresso machine
...or again my husband, procrastinating on starting the work day by practicing a little bit of mandoline.
A great way to practice quick drawings, and people-drawing skills. But sometimes it's also a quick scribble or a sloppy sketch of my breakfast:
When is your best time of the day?
Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Did you ever have the feeling that the blank page is just staring right back at you because you don’t know what to fill it with?
Here’s a tip: draw your art supplies! Let’s draw our paint box.
Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
It’s almost Halloween! So today we’ll use the typical Halloween colours: black and orange, and make a simple and cute Halloween-themed pattern.
Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Today we will use a fineliner. It can be just a cheap fineliner, in fact that's even better because we want the ink to be water-soluble!
Let’s draw a portrait today - Yes, you can do it... It’s like drawing any other shape.
By: Koosje Koene,
Blog: Koosje Koene
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A couple of weeks ago I was at a food truck festival. It had everything good you can imagine: Great food, beautiful old (and new) food trucks and caravans, music, and a nice vibe. Music was provided by my husband and his band, Dirt Road Music Band. (Like them on Facebook!)
That's how I got to the festival in the first place. He has gigs often and sometimes I tag along, but most of the time I don't. But when there's food involved and I feel it's a great opportunity to draw, I'm in! So I got in the car with him and we drove to den Bosch, just a little over an hour from Amsterdam.
While the band was setting up their gear and instruments, I walked around, tasted some of the food and found a perfect spot to sit and draw.
After putting down my first three pen strokes, a lady came up to me and said: "Koosje?"
I was surprised because I don't know anyone in den Bosch, and she explained: "you don't know me but I know you'". She has done one of my online classes
and is a Sketchbook Skool
student. She even started apologizing for not drawing that much lately, but now that she saw me sketching there, the itch to draw was coming back. She didn't join me though - her husband was patiently waiting for her to move on...
I can't help it but this unexpected meeting and chat made me kind of feel like a celeb, so I had to share it with you.
So the other day I had a conversation with someone who loves to draw but doesn't seem to get into the habit. As with every habit, you may need to push yourself a little bit before it becomes something that you have implemented in your life or schedule. Here's 3 tips for you to give you a little (and maybe much needed) kick-in-the-pants: 1. Don't make it any bigger than it is
with thoughts like: "I want to draw. I really should draw. I should make time to draw. I should pack my drawing things and then go and draw".
That first thought: Yes!!
The ones that follow, though - boo! As soon as you feel the need to draw: do it! There's always a pen around -grab it! And even if you don't have a sketchbook lying around, grab something to draw on - it could simply be the back of an envelope!
. 2. Don't make the subject too important.
Are you really expecting to sit down and make a masterpiece? Do you really have to find a very specific subject?
Honestly, I think you're simply procrastinating!
Simply draw stuff that's lying around. as soon as you feel that urge or have the thought: I want to draw: don't go look for things, just draw what's there.In the drawing below, I drew my husbands little black old suitcase that's filled with all sorts of stuff he uses for his music and instruments.
I had this other conversation with someone else, who said she caught herself being a total couch potato lately. Well I don't blame you if you show any of that lazy couch potato symptoms - we all have busy schedules and at the end of the day there's not much energy left!
But to nurture that creative habit of yours - you can still squeeze in a drawing. It's not like it's as hard as getting your butt off the couch and out to the gym or something... no it's a fantastic way to wind down and to relax!
3. Don't forget drawing is something you love doing
Whether you take just 5 minutes or longer - either way it's rewarding and very satisfying too.
Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Last week we made this sketch, and used this fineliner with soluble ink. Today we will need water and a brush.
Want more videos? Subscribe to my Youtube Channel!
Traveling is the best excuse to draw. A Lot. Especially when you're on a holiday and time is not an issue: there's plenty of it!
Here's a bunch of my travel journal pages of my visit to Norway. We first went to Oslo. I will share more pages, of my drawings at the Oslofjord later.
|Sketching makes the wait feel a little less longer|
|Our AirBnB apartment in Oslo|
|The owners of the apartment are coffee geeks. Can you tell?|
|The girl in the back waved at me when she noticed me sketching and signaled if I could show my page. When I left, I went up to her table to show what I did - she loved it. The woman with the glasses (on the left page) was outside smoking a cigarette when I left and she too was curious. Turned out she's an artist herself!|
Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Even though you may be familiar with the hatching technique, here’s a quick draw tip on how to use it. It certainly won’t do any harm repeating techniques!
Hatching is basically placing a lot of lines next to each other to fill a shape. If you have only pen and pencil, it’s a great way to color your drawings, using a variety of shades from light to dark. It’s also a way to draw shadows and to give shape and form to the subjects you draw.
I hope this video is helpful (subscribe to my YouTube Channel
if you want more)- why don’t you try the hatching technique yourself today? I’m sure you will make awesome art!
If you want to learn more, click here
to join one of my classes today!
Like I promised, here are a few more sketchbook pages I did during my 1 week vacation in Norway.
|The summerhouse we stayed in. On the porch - the banjo man I always bring with me.|
|This doesn't look like my husband, but I don't mind|
|Even my sketches got lazy - I fell asleep right there for a little nap just a little after putting this drawing away.|
|A little narration to my drawings|
These drawings were all done in a Strathmore toned paper sketchbook, with black rollerball pen and a white gelpen (uniball Signo broad)
The one on top also has red color pencil added.
I'd like to tell you about the aha-moment I had about how to use this toned sketchpaper best. It happened when I was filling the last few pages of my sketchbook.
It will take another blogpost though so stay tuned!
Art Journaling is a great way to draw the world around you AND forget about it at the same time.
The other day I went to the park for a picnic with family/friends and of course I took my sketchbook with me. This is the page I drew during the picnic:
And this is what I looked like doing so:
|Photo by Cathy Levesque|
I am actually sitting with my butt towards everybody, totally consumed with my drawing, in the meantime listening to the chatter of conversation around me. Luckily, my company was very forgiving, and they all enjoy the creative process. See what I mean: I was completely in the flow of drawing and forgot about the rest!
During the picnic, we also had a blind drawing contour drawing (yes, even the people who never draw, joined in!) and got crazy signing our drawings using our feet.In my online workshop 'Awesome Art Journaling', you can join the fun too. I will guide you through 4 weeks of drawing daily and help you to start and keep your creative habit. Find out more and enroll by clicking here.
Do you have any daily habits? Maybe they even feel like little rituals in your day?
Like: making yourself a nice cup of tea in the afternoon, refreshing your brain with a workout, or kickstarting your day with strong coffee - to name just a few.
If you want to create a habit, it may help to stack that habit onto another good habit. For example: If you enjoy drinking your morning coffee, why don't you add to the ritual by taking the time to make a drawing?
It'll be a lot easier than starting a habit from scratch, when you link it to another one.
If you miss a day, don't beat yourself up about it. It's okay. Just make sure that the day after, you get right back into it again. The longer you wait picking it back up, the harder it will be. However, once your creative habit is in your system, you'll start missing it whenever you don't keep to it.
It's a win-win situation!
I hope this helps you to make awesome art!
If you want more help: Join my online workshop Awesome Art Journaling
in September. I will guide you through a month of art journaling to get you into that creative habit, and stick to it!Click here to find out more and join me starting september 7!
Here's a little draw tip for you:
When you are keeping an art journal, you don't need to fill each page with a perfect drawing. You may not have time to fill a whole page in one go. And hey, telling yourself that the completely blank page should be filled with a fantastic piece of art seems high pitched and isn't very motivating if you just feel like putting pen on paper.
So that's what you do: let the ink flow and enjoy your pen lines on the paper. Choose to draw details of your day. If you do a few of them throughout the day or the week, your double page will be filled in the end.
A few art journal pages I made in August, while enjoying summer in Amsterdam:
|Sipping cool drinks on a bridge over the canal|
|My husband playing the mandoline lying down in the park|
|Pretty park people|
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A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my experiences with the Strathmore toned paper sketchbook (you can read the blogpost by clicking here
), and how I had this aha-moment when i started drawing interiors, using pen and color pencils. I have another one of these Strathmore books, with grey paper in it, and decided to dedicate it to interiors. maybe also exteriors though - anyway: places.
Here's my first stab at it: