Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sketchbook Spread

Before we had all these beautiful coloured inks and watercolors, the old masters used Bister, or Bistre. It was made out of ground shells of walnuts.
'Bistre' is French for brown, hazelnut color, or chocolate brown. 
I had never heard of this until my mother-in-law talked about it. She uses it in the art group she attends weekly. I got curious and bought a few bottles, that looked like medicine bottles from long, long ago. Then Of course, I tried it.  By taking some of the grains out, and dilluting them with water, you can paint with it. Just like with watercolor you can use it wit a lot of water, or just a little. Pretty cool! So that's the drawing on the right hand side of this journal spread.

On the left, with my ususal watercolours, I made a selfie the day before. Just because.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Draw Tip Tuesday - Handlettering the Day Away

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Let’s make today’s art journal page extra pretty, by adding the day or the date, in hand lettering.


Want more of good stuff for your art journal? 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How to make progress, not excuses

Do you ever make up excuses?
Sure you do. And that's fine. We all do. The traffic has been crazy, the weather conditions awful, the dog ate our homework...
20140912 SketchbookcircleKoosje1
What about Making Art? Yes, I use capitals for the two words, just to make it worse. There is this invisible threshold to start, even though you know how good it makes you feel, when you're creating something. And it's not even about the result, just the process of Making Art itself is satisfying enough.
Yes, we have busy lives. And yes, some days can be super hectic. But really, is it an excuse to not do what you love?
20140731 hand
Easier said than done, huh? Because maybe you feel like your art isn't as awesome as it should be. You try drawing things that you see and then the drawing turns out to be all wonky, the perspective is off, or you're bored with drawing the same stuff over and over again, because you only draw inside your home. Because heading outside to draw feels way too intimidating and scary. Or you'd like to be able to draw people, but mess up their faces and hands every time you try.
Sounds familiar?
Schermafbeelding 2014-09-11 om 09.53.07
In fitness, there's this saying: "Excuses don't burn calories". The 'Just Do It' approach is straight forward, and makes you move forward. Because after all, even if you fall flat on your face, you're still moving forward!
So let's go and make awesome art!
Want some help with that? Check out my online classes and join today.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

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.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Draw Tip Tuesday - How to Draw Circles in Perspective

Welcome to Draw Tip tuesday!
Here's a simple trick to practice drawing circles in perspective:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

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?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mini Sketches

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Draw Tip Tuesday - Throwback Tuesday

Since I get quite a few questions about those background washes I make every now and then, I thought I'd make today's Draw Tip Tuesday a 'Throwback Tuesday' instead, and share a video I made a while ago. In this, I make a fresh green background. Plus a quick sketch of my hand!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Selfies, yo.

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

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


Hot Rides!

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sketchbook Skool Shivers

Wahoo, Sketchbook Skool is on a roll! In "Storytelling" and "Beginnings", students are happily chatting about, uploading their work, and getting inspired by each other and the Fakulty. And today, "Seeing" is starting, so all around the world, people are working in their sketchbooks, sharing their art and growing an awesome community.

Speaking of the Sketchbook Skool Community:

Portrait of me, made by Lynn Cohen
A lot of online friendships are made in Skool, and in September, one of the students, Lynn Cohen, was travelling to Europe with her husband Fred, and also visiting Amsterdam.
Lynn is one of the biggest fans of Sketchbook Skool, right from the beginning, and she is a very active person in the online community, by making a lot of art and encouraging others. For example: To fill the 'Gap' after the first kourse 'Beginnings' had ended, and before 'Seeing' started, she started portraying her klass mates and shared her drawings on Facebook. She made over a 100 portraits!

So, when Lynn announced her visit to Amsterdam, a bunch of Dutch Sketchbook Skool Students got very excited and wanted to meet her. To make that happen, they organized a sketchcrawl. Starting at 'Het Blauwe Theehuis', in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. The building is the subject in one of my video demos in my klass in 'Beginnings' of Sketchbook Skool, and it's also the place where Danny and I first met, before we founded Sketchbook Skool together.

There was a lot of sketching involved, and a lot of sketching each other too. We had dinner, and I was mostly chatting with everyone, but managed to throw some watercolors onto the paper, inspired by the pretty colors of the salad I ordered.

Lynn asked me how Danny and I met, and how Sketchbook Skool got started. So I told her the story of how Danny was in Amsterdam to speak at an event and how, on his blog, he said he wanted to meet Dutch sketchers. So, we arranged a meeting and had coffee. He wanted to pick my brain about my online art classes, and about teaching online. And of course I wanted to know everything about his plans after he made the leap to leave the corporate advertisement business.
Then, I shared an idea that had been in the back of my mind for over a year. While I was teaching my own classes, I realized they were limited to my own drawing skills, but there's so much more out there! Online, I found so many inspiring artists. I want to learn from them, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. So I wanted to bring those artists together, so they could spread their knowledge and show their skills. Should it be a seminar, a webinar, a book, an e-book, a course, a workshop…? I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around it, what it could look like, or even where to start.
So I asked Danny if he would like to collaborate and think about this idea with me. What followed was a fabulous brainstorm on email back and forth, and many Skype calls, and before we knew it, we were signing contracts and bringing this project to life.

Lynn then asked: "so that must have changed your life?" 
And I said: "Yes, it totally did. And Danny's too"
Lynn: "And ours too", gesturing at the group of people gathered around, sketching frantically in their sketchbooks.
"And mine too" said Fred, Lynn's husband, who is not in Sketchbook Skool, but enjoys seeing his wife developing such a wonderful art habit.

That's him, my dad
Like Fred, my mom feels the same Joy. Because my dad (who is my number 1 fan, and who can't stop drawing ever since he took my first online class 'Just Draw It', when it ran for the first time 2 years ago) has developed such a happy habit! He meets new people online, goes on sketch crawls with class mates, and makes awesome art.

It's amazing, and I feel shivers down my spine (in a positive way), just thinking about how Sketchbook Skool is touching so many lives, and helping so many people develop their creative lives!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mass Distraction

Do you ever get distracted from doing the things that you have scheduled? If your answer is no, I don't believe you. 
If you really don't get distracted. I wanna know your secret!

Like a Celeb

Wow, like a celebrity, I got interviewed for
The People Project.
You can read the interview by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Draw Tip Tuesday: Hand lettering a phrase

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

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Small drawings, huge fun!

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

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


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

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

Friday, October 3, 2014

Drawing buildings

This Mosque is being built in the west of Amsterdam. I sat down on a bench in the sun, on the other side of the canal, to draw it.
This cute place is a Dutch tavern where my husband and his band performed. I took the opportunity and tagged along, to enjoy wonderful surroundings and sketch.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Summer has been good

Summer has been soooo good! While many people go on vacation during summer, I am always staying in Amsterdam over summer. Why o why would I leave sunny Amsterdam? I'd rather travel to a warm place when it's cold and dark here. One of the benefits and freedom you gain when you don't have kids.
So here are some summery drawings I realize I haven't shared here on my blog yet. I have high hopes for Fall too - I wouldn't mind an Indian Summer at all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Memories in my art journal

Suddenly, I found myself in a taxi in Paris, talking to the friendly taxi driver as if my French is anything near fluent. At least I understood him, and I was surprised that my sunken-away school-french came floating to the surface while he offered me a carambar candy. That gesture was just so sweet, and the candy reminded me of wonderfully endless summers in France, with my parents and my brother.
In Paris, the weather was fabulous. back in Amsterdam, it rained cats and dogs, hence the combination on this journal page. And well, the cappuccino is self explanatory.