Merry Christmas

Today’s face: F’s deer, inspired by Sktchy. I realised after posting my Sktchy Secret Santa yesterday that that was my 500th Sktchy post. Today’s post, which I turned into a Sktchy Christmas card, is my 501st post on Sktchy.

Drawn in a Fabriano Venezia sketchbook with a Micron 01 pen and painted with Zecchi Toscana watercolours and Copic White. Lettering added digitally on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app.

Merry Christmas to all the readers of my blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. I appreciate each and every visit, like and comment and I wish you all the happiest of New Years and the best of everything that 2018 has to offer.

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.

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?

Monkey Mind, Healing Art and the Power of Supportive Kommunity

The past few weeks have been a difficult time for me. My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the first few weeks after her diagnosis I was finding that I was hating much of what I was drawing. In Sketchbook Skool (SBS) we call these critical thoughts our monkey, a term coined by Danny Gregory, one of the Skool’s founders (To find out more about the monkey visit Danny’s blog here). I call this state of mind “monkey mind” and after a few days of monkey mind I turned to the SBS kommunity for help, posting on our Facebook page asking for tips and ideas to get me out of this state of mind.  The response was immediate, creative, hugely supportive and felt like an enormous virtual hug. So, for those of you who might also suffer bouts of monkey mind, here are some of the suggestions students made:

  • Draw the gorilla that has you in his grip
  • Go through your sketchbooks and do different versions of specific drawings that you enjoyed
  • Draw/write/decorate quotes
  • Suspend judgement and just keep drawing
  • Pick something difficult to draw and just draw it repeatedly as an exercise; or paint something simple (e.g. a square) repeatedly
  • Create colour swatches
  • Practice lettering
  • Sketch and scribble things that are less precious – maybe on scraps of paper or post-it notes
  • Draw with your opposite hand
  • Sketch your mum or for your mum or things she loves


I was also challenged by another student to take part in an ongoing 5 day challenge, which involved posting pictures of old or new work for 5 days.  I decided that rather than posting old work I would try to post new work for 5 days. The sketch above was one I drew on the second day. That challenge probably helped me more than anything, because I felt like some SBS friends were looking out especially for my daily posts and being so supportive and encouraging in their responses to them! And if it hadn’t been for that challenge I might not have drawn at all that week – so thanks Karla Stevens for nominating me keeping me drawing when I might have given up. The sketch below was made on day 4 in the car at 70mph (I wasn’t driving) while we were travelling to visit my parents.


The following Monday, after a very emotional weekend with my parents, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to draw at all when I received that week’s SBS challenge (in between kourses we have been receiving a weekly email with new challenges set by a different kourse tutor each Monday) because I was just too upset. But by mid-afternoon I was cried out and decided to have a go. The challenge was to draw on some kind of tinted paper with watercolour and white gouache. I’d never used gouache before but I had, by chance, bought some a few weeks before thinking it might be useful and I found some brown wrapping paper to paint on. Within ten minutes I was totally focused on drawing and then painting and in what I can only call “my happy place”.  I was drawing and painting for perhaps two hours and for those two hours all my worries were forgotten and my spirit was calm.  Now, a day later even looking at this painting makes me feel calm. And I can honestly say, since I don’t paint very much at all, that it’s probably the best painting I’ve ever done!

I’m not at all religious and I don’t believe in fate, but I can’t help thinking that that decision to join SBS last July was meant to be because right now I have art and SBS and this very powerful supportive kommunity just when I need them most.