Italian Sketchbook

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend my birthday in Florence. The trip was a wonderful birthday present from my husband. What’s more, because he knows I love to draw and because I have CRPS which means I use crutches and can’t walk very far, he booked a hotel with roof terraces and the most amazing views over Florence. He also sweet talked the staff and got us a room with a view too! And he booked a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia for the morning of my birthday so that I could see Michelangelo’s David.



So, although I’m not really an urban sketcher, I was able to do some genuine urban sketching over the course of the week and I got some wonderful art viewing in too, seeing some awe-inspiring Michelangelo’s, Botticelli’s and Giotto’s, amongst others at the Accademia.

Florence 2

Florence 3

We also ended up with a couple of days in Pisa after our flight home was delayed by 24 hours due to a strike in Italy, so I got to draw the Leaning Tower too!


All of these were drawn in a hand•book sketchbook with a variety of media including Micron and Unipin pens, Zecchi and Greenleaf & Blueberry watercolours, Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth colouring pencils, a Signo uniball white gel pen, a dip pen and ink and various tickets and papers.


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Today’s face 95/99  13/08/16

Today’s face is a little more personal than usual. It’s a portrait of my Mum, who died a year ago today. I drew this portrait yesterday. It’s not the first I’ve drawn of her and I still can’t quite capture her likeness. I almost did: about halfway through it looked so much like her mother, my grandmother, it was scary. And then I lost it somewhere around the mouth. I still struggle with getting mouths right.

Drawing mouths and teeth is always the hardest part of a portrait for me and on a portrait of Mum it’s definitely very difficult. So much so, it made me howl with laughter. Because let’s be honest, she’d hate this portrait. If she was still here, she’d insist that I took it down straight away and never let it see the light of day! She hated her teeth and she hated any photo that didn’t flatter her and this portrait  both shows her teeth (and not well) and isn’t a good likeness but, worse still, it’s not very flattering either. A poor likeness would be OK if was flattering.

So a thousand apologies Mum but this portrait is important to me because it was made with so much love. And I didn’t want to get to 99 faces without including one that really matters in this week that is so important to me.

Drawn in a Moleskine sketchbook with a Unipin pen and Copic markers. And if you’re wondering about the lettering – I’m doing the Sketchbook Skool Creative Lettering kourse at the moment taught by Andrea Joseph and this is lettering from one of this week’s lessons, drawn with my non-dominant (left) hand and then embellished.


Today’s face  30/99  10/06/16


Anet, inspired by Sktchy app.  Drawn in a sketchbook with a Unipin pen and Tombow markers.

Express it in lettering

The new year saw a new Sketchbook Skool (SBS) course, Expressing commence and I don’t think I’ve ever been busier planning, sketching, painting, posting and commenting in the SBS skoolyard. Expressing began with a klass by Koosje Koene on hand lettering.  Koosje introduced students to a whole range of hand lettering techniques and encouraged us to explore both serif and san serif alphabets as a homework exercise.

I had fun working in my sketchbook on these.  I found the dog alphabet on Pinterest but haven’t been able to identify the source – if anyone knows who created it please let me know so I can give credit where it’s due! It’s a wonderful alphabet and has received lots of love.

I was soon having so much fun that I started to play around not only with alphabets but also with illuminated lettering. This A was drawn on my iPad and is heavily influenced by a beautiful card I have featuring an illustration by artist Lesley Buckingham (the card can be bought at

And I loved drawing this illuminated S from an 19th century book.
Our final exercise was to letter some words – a phrase, lyric or short sentence. I chose a phrase that I’d seen on Tumblr recently and produced in my sketchbook with ink and watercolour. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy a week of lettering but by the time I was working on this exercise I knew I could happily spend the rest of my life doing nothing else! It seems to require just the perfect combination of planning and inspiration.

I was having so much fun I did two more lettering pages!

And then I did another one on my iPad…


Question now is, can I stop lettering and get on with my other assignments?