Monday, March 2, 2015

Travel Journal: Drawing Thai Boats

I still haven't shared all the drawings I made during my week in Thailand. Here's a drawing that took me over an hour and was an adventure from beginning to end.
Intrigued by all the colours of the Thai Fishermen's boats, I planted myself in the shade of the waiting area on the pier of the marina. Then, I took a good look first, to single out an area to draw. I chose this row of three boats and focused on those, so I would not get distracted by all the other colourful elements around them and in the background. Then I started drawing. Drawing all the lines and shapes (making a lot of use of negative spaces) was very interesting and challenging too, since the boats were floating and constantly moving a little bit, turning left and right, with the waves of the water. I just relaxed and whenever an element got out of view because of the swell of the sea, I just focused on another detail or shape, to get back to it later.
At some point when I was well into my drawing, a fisherman left with his boat that was on the right side of these three boats, so all three boats moved drastically towards the right, closer to the quay, and for a moment I was afraid that it would mess up the whole scene and my drawing, but all I needed to do, is move a little to the right so I had the same poit of view on the boats again.

Step by step, my drawing grew while I listened to the constant chatter and bustle around me on the pier. At some point I realized I had an audience: tuk-tuk drivers waiting for the next ferry to come in, were watching my drawing moves closely. When I looked around and up to them, they gave me encouraging thumbs up.
The moment I opened my travel watercolour box and waterbrush, I even heard a few 'ooh's' and 'aah's'.

As you can imagine, I was very proud when I finished the drawing and felt a great sense of accomplishment.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Drawing Portraits

I am lucky that my husband really doesn't mind when I draw him in a not-so-flattering way!

And also happy that, when I take my time, I can make drawings that do make a lot of sense.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Blind contour drawings

I will be the first to admit that I like showing off cool drawings here on my blog. However, I don't mind sharing drawings that you might not hang on your wall, but are very important to make.

While I was in Thailand two weeks ago, I started a habit of doing a blind contour drawing every day. My husband was my willing victim for this. Doing blind contour drawings are fun quick exercises to train your eye-hand coordination. I am sharing all the drawings below, just because it's fun to see. And I actually see progressin accuracy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Draw Tip Tuesday: Art Tools

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

We all love our art tools, don’t we? I always carry an art journal and a sketch bag with me, and the contents of the bag change very often. This is what’s currently in it. And since they are so important to me, these art tools are totally worth drawing!

Pick up your favorite sketch tools and draw them too!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Drawing while travelling

Travelling! I love it. Being on the move, on your way to a place to explore. Even if the drive or flight is long - I enjoy it. Especially of course because I always bring a sketchbook.
After security control, the waiting area for the gate fills up with people. They sit, and read and hang around and have no place to go untuil the gate opens. A great moment to skjetch people who are minding their own businesses.

Plane seats give you a numb butt after a while. You don't have much leg space, nor privacy. If you're lucky, you sit next to someone who isn't too big and doesn't smell or make a lot of noise. Inspite of the tiny space tyou have, there's always room for a sketchbook on your lap.

Who cares if the boat rocks? Draw anyway! Once at the destination, you can get more into details again.

Friday, February 20, 2015

5 Tips for Successful Travel Journaling

Last weekend, I came back from a wonderful week in Thailand. The week was dedicated to unplugging and relaxing. My husband brought his mandoline and I brought my sketching gear. We went to a tiny, sleepy island in the Gulf of Thailand, no tourist attractions (and just a handful of mostly thai tourists), not much to do. Perfect. So that's what we did: not much. Except for relaxing, enjoying fabulous Thai food, and play.
Feeling kind of rusty at first - this page doesn't look balanced at all, and I don't like the drawings that much, but the page certainly brings back memories of all these specific moments.
When visiting Southeast Asia, I am always intrigued by the many electrical wires along the streets. I realized I never drew them before. So I told my husband I was going to need an hour or so and sat down in the shade of a tree to follow all those lines and wires. In the meantime my husband practiced the mandoline and did an exploratory drive around the island on our rented motorbike. Then he came to pick me up and to enjoy the rest of our day together.
Taking the time to draw means taking time to study. Here I played with perspective and repetitive lines. I will remember by butt being numb afterwards, because of sitting in the same position for quite a long time.
I'll be sharing more of my journal pages soon!
In the meantime...

Here are 5 tips to get you going on your own travel journal (and by the way - you can use these tips just as well when staying home!)

Whether you travel close to home or to far and exotic places, whether it's for a short stay or a long vacation, you can keep a travel art journal to document all those great memories that you simply can't capture in a photo.
1. Pack light
Take a small selection of art supplies with you: You're travelling, so you don't want to carry around an oversized bag which will give you too much choice anyway. Packing just one favourite pen and a travel watercolour set will get you a long way and will leave you with more time to enjoy the moment, without worrying about choosing the right medium.
B Pack one pair of pants less, and a sketchbook extra so you know you won't run out of pages if you turn out to be unstoppable.
2. Tell your travel buddy you need a bit of drawing time
When travelling with someone who is not a sketcher like you, give them the chance to fill their time with doing what they love as well. They don't need to wait around until you're finished. That may only make you nervous, so just give yourself a time limit (like 30 minutes or an hour, depending on what you plan to draw) and tell your travel partner that you will meet him or her again afterwards.

3. Everything is interesting to draw
In other countries, or even in a different city than your own, lots of things look different - take advantage of that and draw things that are in front of you and are interesting to you.

4. Let go
You may feel like every page should be perfect, because your travel journal will be a reminder of this trip. I have news for you: nobody's perfect, so stop trying.
Let go, and you will see that even the pages that may not look perfect to you, will bring back many memories of that moment you drew, just as well as drawings that turned out 'better'.
5. Enjoy the moment
While drawing your scene or subject, you will notice all your senses start opening up. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the breeze or temperature, smell the smells in the air. Let it all in and by doing that, you're capturing all that into your page.

Wouldn't you like to go and take a trip? You can, you know. Exploring can also be done close to home. I love to take trips in my own neighbourhood or even at home, there's always something interesting to draw. As soon as you start drawing, you'll see things with different eyes.

Whatever you do, where ever you go, you know you can Make Awesome Art.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Draw Tip Tuesday - blind contour selfie

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

Let’s do a fun exercise that will help develop your eye-hand coordination today.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Drawing in da Hood

Sometimes you just need to get out. Take a break. Have lunch out. Buy yourself a cappuccino. At least, that's what I do. The people in the bar where I made this drawing must have thought I have kind of compulsive habits. I changed tables twice to get the right view before staring this drawing. Sat there for an hour to draw my view. Then l had to stop because it was getting dark. A few days later, I came back, sat at the exact same table, ordered the same drinks (first a cappuccino, then a cup of tea) and again spend over an hour, drawing.
I still wasn't done - I added the bricks with color pencils later, at home.

This drawing took me longer than I am used to, when I draw street views, buildings, outside scenes. I immensely enjoyed it. It's the first spread in the new Strathmore sketchbook I started. Great beginning of a sketchbook, if I may say so myself.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Free Ebook!

Yeah I know - I am quite shamelessly plugging Sketchbook Skool here:

Tomorrow, 'Storytelling' starts in Sketchbook Skool! To celebrate, you can grab a free copy of  this ebook, with 50 tips from the Fakulty about drawing people.

It's free! Get your copy here:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Draw Tip Tuesday - Painting Letters

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
So now that it's February and our first month on the new year has passed, how are you doing on your creative new year's resolutions? 
You may have promised yourself to make art everyday, or fill your art journal with random things from life. By now you may have experienced that some days, you open up your art journal and you don’t really know what to fill the page with. Here’s a tip to solve that problem!

If the video doesn't load or play, watch it on YouTube:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Journal Page - Urban Sketch

I have lived in Amsterdam all my life, and I love 'my' city. It doesn't really matter where I go, there's always something interesting to draw.
This drawing is of a corner near my house, drawn from the large window of a cafe / restaurant, while sipping a cappuccino on a rainy day.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

5 Tips to Help You Keep Making Art

In my online art classes, there are often discussions and questions about how to keep a daily art habit. Well, first of all: if you made a commitment to yourself that you want to make art every day: that's fantastic! But don't beat yourself up about it or feel guilty when you miss a day every now and then, because life can just get crazy busy, I know!
But if the problem is finding subjects or themes to fill your art journal pages with: here's a few tips to solve that.
1. Give yourself a break.
A doodle is a drawing too. If you run out of time on a busy day, just doodle a little and have fun doing that.
2. Treat yo'self!
Go and get yourself a treat. Sit down to enjoy it. Wether it's eating an ice cream, drinking a caramel latte, going for a pedicure... enjoy the moment even more by drawing it.
20150201 Coffeejurnal
3. Do it everywhere
Find every opportunity to draw. Even if you didn't bring a journal or sketchbook - you can draw. On beer coasters, napkins, or, like I did here: on a paper placemat.
20150131 paperPlacemat 
(I always feel this childish excitement bubbling up inside me when I enter a restaurant and see they have paper placemats. Or even better: paper tablecloths!)
20150126 happinessquote
4. Look at yourself.
have a good look at yourself and draw what you wear. If you do this regularly, it's a fun way to document your
5.Find a quote.
Find an affirmation sentence, a song text or an expression you like. Paint it, fill an art journal page with it.
It's challenging to keep that creative habit, I know. But at the same time, it's also kind of an addiction, don't you agree?
Keep on going, enjoy the process every day and make awesome art.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Art and business - a balancing act!

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that it's quite uncommon for me to write long blogposts. I just like to communicate visually. But today, I'm celebrating milestones and just want to share that sometimes, I need to pinch myself: is this really happening?

About one and a half year ago, something happened that caused a huge shift in my life. I had been blogging here on this blog, for quite a while, and I had become an online entrepreneur, developing and offering my online drawing courses and workshops. It was hard work, but worth every drop of sweat for sure! I was able to follow my passion of drawing and making art, and helping others to get inspired and make art too.
Teaching online, and finding out about the vivid online creative community gave me new ideas. I saw new options and new opportunities.

The coffees we drank and drew
Then I met Danny Gregory here in Amsterdam. We talked over coffee, then beers, then Indonesian rijsttafel, and picked each other’s brains about online teaching, art, writing, and many other things. We discussed a vague idea about getting a bunch of people together to inspire others. That idea quickly became a vision and a goal.
What happened? Sketchbook Skool happened.

Inspite of the huge online community of sketchers, drawers and art makers out there, there wasn't a community driven online art course the way we would like to see it. Yes, you can take online courses, to learn techniques and yes, you'll be able to connect with others in such a course. However, we would have loved to take a course in which we would learn from many artists rather than just one person, and get inspired by their points of view. We were, and still are curious to learn from the artists we admire, and then share experiences with peers online. Since a course like that didn't exist, we created it. That's what happened.

Founding Sketchbook Skool with Danny has been a step into a fabulous adventure. Sketchbook Skool Kourses bundle together knowledge and inspiration of amazing sketchbook artists from around the world. It's an absolute dream come true (yep, pinching myself!). Not just for us, but for a lot of people who enrolled in one of the Sketchbook Skool Kourses. I feel so fortunate and proud when I meet Sketchbook Skool students in person and they tell me how much making art means to them, and how they enjoy being part of the online community.
Drawing of my desk when editing videos
We started Sketchbook Skool as a fun creative project, and it still is, but pretty soon I didn’t need any side jobs, I didn’t even have time if I wanted to. Without intending to, Danny and I created a full-time jobs for ourselves in Sketchbook Skool. Jobs in an innovative start-up, in which we need to learn like an apprentice, and make decisions like a CEO. Whew!
We are working with such inspiring artists, creating their lessons for skool, and the community of students is warm, supportive, inspiring, beyond what we ever expected. Then there’s also the corporate side of things: for example, just this morning I found myself tangled up between my book keeper and two accountants, trying to explain things I don’t even fully understand myself!

It's an adventure to enjoy this start-up business and the passion I feel for Sketchbook Skool, but the downside is that work keeps piling up onto our virtual desks. Now don't get me wrong - I am not complaining! I feel blessed with everything that has happened since we founded Sketchbook Skool and I wouldn’t want it any other way. There's just a lot to learn for me: how to plan well and be smart with my time.

Sleep deprivation is not uncommon to me - not because I’m a workaholic, but I also need time to spend on my biggest passion, what started all of this: drawing! I am making less drawings than I did when I had a dull dayjob in a cubicle, but when I do, I truly enjoy the moment and the process. Sometimes I draw in bed just before I go to sleep, and I'll admit that more than once I actually fell asleep while crosshatching the last bits of a drawing! But hey, I drew that day, and it relaxed me - obviously!

Maybe you started a business of your own, or another major life event that influences your creative life. I’m curious: How do you deal with it?

Oh and here's a link for you: Sketchbook Skool's Blog

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Draw Tip Tuesday - Adding Lettering

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Last week we drew a colorful pattern of shoes, and the blank spaces are just screaming to be filled. So let's add some hand lettering today.
If for some reason the video doesn't load or play, watch it on YouTube:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sketchcrawlin' in Amsterdam

Last Saturday was Worldwide Sketchcrawl day. We were lucky with the weather in Amsterdam. On Friday we had some snow but on Saturday the weather was pretty good, we even saw some sun!

Our group gathered on the top floor of the library near Central Station. That's where I drew the couple sitting at the table on the left page of my sketchbook. There was quite a nice turn-up, about 25 people all sketching and chatting together.

Waiting for everyone to arrive, I drew my dad and fellow sketcher in the fold of the spread, and then I really wanted to head outside and leave that badly lit, too warm library restaurant. A few Sketchbook Skool students joined me and wanted to do some urban sketching for their homework. So we found a spot at the waterside, and drew the view. There were two power shovels parked on muddy terrain, and half a broken down bridge. Those machines are interesting, and I also liked the muddy mess, so I drew it, with just a little line representing the buildings in the background.

The couragious few daring to sketch in the cold, with coffee and wine as a reward and to warm up afterwards:
A small group of us decided to go for dinner together. We sat down, ready to eat a good meal after a day of sketching, our sketchbooks in bags, but did you think we were done? No way, we couldn't resist those paper placemats on the table! Yeah, that's what happens when sketchers meet up.

So I drew everyone at the table:
You can see I got more confident halfway through the drawing; I started at the left. The portraits at the right half of the placemat are much stronger.
Then I did a placemat exchange with Perla (4th from the right above), who drew me on her placemat:

Sketchcrawls are so much fun! They're organized on many places in the world. So If you want to join one near you, have a look on the forum at, or find a sketch group on

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Draw Tip Tuesday - Shoes!

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

No inspiration? Take a look at you wardrobe. You may find interesting stuff that you can draw. For example, make a fun pattern of the shoes you have, or draw the kind of shoes that you’d like to have. You could make a pattern of bags, coats, accessories… you name it. Take a peek into your wardrobe and you can get lots of ideas for a whole series of patterns.
Dive into your wardrobe, see what you can draw today, and Make Awesome Art!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Life Begins Where Your Comfort Zone Ends

Don't you just love surrounding yourself with fabulous art tools, beautiful sketchbooks and watercolor paper, and maybe even books about art and drawing to inspire you?
A lot of people do. And then... they don't draw!
Does that sound familiar?
Schermafbeelding 2015-01-20 om 17.14.49

Getting started can feel like a big step.

Even though you know how good it will make you feel once you're in the process of doing what you love, it can be kind of scary. You never know what's going to happen once you start, do you?
Well here's the two choices you have:
1. Keep feeling uncomfortable about it, don't start, and feel frustrated with yourself.
2. Embrace the fact that you can't control a drawing, jump in and enjoy the process and let the drawing unfold. Let go.
20150109BootKamp WritingCrop
Needless to ask which one of the above you prefer.
When I hear myself think 'I can't do this', I just know that when I push through, I will find that most of those limits are inside my head, and I can exceed them. Not just when drawing. The quote here on the right applies to many situations in life.
So THAT is where the sweet stuff is:
Right there, when you step outside of your comfort zone, is where the magic happens.
20140725 chocolates
Some people claim you should do something that scares you every day. I don't know about that, but I sure do know that you can accomplish a lot by sinking your teeth into those large or small challenges.

So what are you doing today to challenge yourself?

Whatever you do, have a great day, and make awesome art.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Draw Tip Tuesday - Hand Lettering

Welcome to Draw tip Tuesday!
Remember how last week’s conclusion was that you better think twice before you throw something in the trash, because it may be worth drawing? Let’s write ourselves a little reminder next to this drawing of an orange peel.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Journal page

Here's a journal page I did last month. Sipping a slow drip and drawing - what better way to spend a Sunday?

Here's another one from last month.
I'm always intrigued by map art. I'm not very good at drawing maps - even giving directions in Amsterdam (where I have lived all my life) gets me into trouble - my mind maps things completely different! My husband had a band gig in the south of Holland and we decided to combine that with a fun weekend out. Doing a map of the appartment we stayed in, was a great exercise and fun to do. I needed to get up many times to see what was where, even though the apartment was kind of tiny!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Journal Page: the eggplant

This eggplant was on the kitchen counter, and looked so pretty because of its colour and shine - every time I passed by it just screamed out: 'Draw me, Koosje!' 

So that's what I did.


After that, I killed it and threw it in a stew together with a bunch of chick peas and tomatoes - even the eggplant's taste is pretty!

-drawn with a mix of brands of colour pencils, on a small brown paper bag that I kept for drawing purposes - now was the time to glue it into my sketchbook and make good use of it-

If you want to learn to work with colour pencils, I can teach you in 'Just Draw It', my 5-week online drawing course. It starts February 2nd, and will the course will temporarily retire after that, so I have the chance to learn and develop more skills myself! In Just Draw It, I guide you through the lessons full of drawing techniques, to make you more confident when drawing, and to polish up your skills. Join me, it's only $99! Click here to read more and to register.