Sketchbook Skool: Whimsical Sketchbook


This week I started a new kourse with Sketchbook Skool. I haven’t taken one of their multi-teacher kourses in a long time and this one – called The Whimsical Sketchbook – looked like fun so I signed up.

The first teacher was illustrator Rebecca Green and the assignment was to illustrate a character or scene from one of your favourite books. I chose to illustrate a short story from a book by Tove Jansson called Letters From Klara. I didn’t feel confident enough to draw a character so I decided to draw all the details mentioned in the first short story of the book – also called Letters From Klara.

I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out and I felt slightly out of my comfort zone but I was pleased with the finished drawing, although I feel like I could keep tweaking this one for ages.


Copying Mamma

Ink and coloured pencil copy of Moomin Mamma image

I’m slowly catching up with Sketchbook Skool’s Boot Kamp but I’m not quite there yet. I have another assignment that I’ve not started yet and I’m expecting a new one to arrive in my inbox tomorrow. Oh well.

This is the most recent one I’ve finished. The assignment was inspired by Tommy Kane who suggests making copies of work by artists that you admire or are inspired by. Not, of course, to pass it off as your own original work, but to learn from the artist. His argument is that all artists (not just visual artists either) are by-products of the people whose work they admire.

I went to see the Turner exhibition at the Tate Britain on Monday and a tiny part of me was tempted to choose him as the artist whose work I’d copy for this assignment. I decided against that in the end and went with someone whose illustration work on first sight might appear quite simple – Tove Jansson.

As well as being a fine artist and an author, Tove Jansson illustrated her series of Moomin books. I’m currently reading her biography and am a huge fan of her and the Moomins so she seemed like a good choice for this homework.

I chose this particular drawing because as I was reading the biography I came across a description of Moominmamma and instantly recognised it because I have a postcard of the picture framed on my bookcase.

‘Berries, shells and roses surround her body with a symbolic world of fruitfulness, birth and love. The sun shines in brilliant glory behind her head… Mother is love.’ (Tove Jansson, Life, Art, Words, Boel Westin).

In copying this illustration I learned just how much detail there can be in a seemingly simple image. There are white outlines separating some of the details from what’s next to them and the background reminds me of a Matisse cut-out (Matisse was one of Tove’s favourite artists).

So, doing a straight copy of someone else’s work isn’t something I’d seriously considered doing before but it’s a really interesting exercise.

Compromises With Paper

Coloured drawing of a red pencil

I seem to be a tiny bit behind with Boot Kamp. Maybe at some point I’ll catch up – or maybe not, it doesn’t matter too much.

This assignment was about creating a watercolour wash background to draw on with coloured pencils. It left me with a bit of dilemma – should I use my current sketchbook, a Leuchtturm, which is great for coloured pencil drawing but not so great for watercolours; or use up the last page of my last Moleskin watercolour sketchbook, which is obviously perfect for watercolours but a bit too textured for coloured pencils?

I went with the latter, just so I could really play around with the watercolour paint in the background without it drying quickly, causing the surface of the paper to come away or bleeding through the page from the amount of water used.

I discovered from my selfie drawings that the texture of watercolour paper really doesn’t allow you to get much detail or sharp edges to a drawing when using coloured pencils. So I’m not massively happy with this one but it’s much better than I thought it might be and it’s another one of those drawings that I got a fresh perspective on once I saw it scanned and on a screen.

A Small Bottle of ‘Paranoia’


Another one from inside my bag. I almost always have a bottle of hand gel in my bag, mainly because of a tiny bit of paranoia that I have about germs, which is probably fuelled a little bit by living in the centre of a huge city with all its people and all their germs (and also having watched the film Contagion once a few years ago! 😉 ).

This was supposed to be a soft, coloured pencil drawing but something went wrong and it became a wobbly pen and coloured pencil drawing instead but that’s OK.

Something Tiny – Just Keep Drawing

Drawing of orange string

I kind of slumped through yesterday. I woke up just before 5am, having gone to sleep at about 11:30pm and all kinds of things that aren’t worrying started to worry me, to the point that I didn’t get back to sleep.

At 7am I made some ginger tea, drank it in bed and spent the rest of the day on the sofa. I still managed to do a tiny drawing though while I listened to a couple of podcasts.

I’ve got a jar full of bits of ribbon and ideally I wanted to do some sort of collection drawing of ‘things that tie’. I didn’t really have the energy for that though so I found this bit of orange string in the jar and decided to just go with that.

I’m working on something a bit more complex today after a better night’s sleep last night but I still quite like the simplicity of this string drawing.