Category Archives: SKETCHBOOK

8 Lessons I Learnt From Keeping A Travel Sketchbook

Hi everyone!

I just came back from a trip to Austria where I went to visit some friends of mine. It was a great holiday and one of the things that I am super happy about is that I kept a travel sketchbook!

A lot of the time when I travel I take a sketchbook and some pens and pencils with me and I end up not drawing at all.

However, just before I went on holidays I got inspired by the fantastic Christine Nishiyama (also check her Skillshare classes, they’re great!) who had just completed a road trip and had kept a travel sketchbook which she shared on Instagram. Her illustrations were so simple, beautiful and fun at the same time that they made me want to give it a go.

So I decided that I too would draw my adventures!… And the thought totally terrified me!

I mean, there is so much great stuff on Instagram and the likes that I felt very pressured to produce something that looked awesome, even though the whole point of going away for a few days was to relax and have fun.

And then I remembered how Christine’s account of her road trip and experience of drawing in her travel sketchbook made it sound approachable and laid back.

I wasn’t too sure how and where to start but I decided to be brave, forget about the idea of making something perfect and I gave travel sketching a go – my way! And I learnt a lot in the process!

Here are 8 lessons I learnt from this experience:

  1. Drawing when you are away is not like drawing at home: some of the materials I brought with me were different from what I normally use which means that I had to adapt my drawing a little.
  2. Sketching the illustrations in pencil first made it feel too ‘controlled’. I was spending way too long trying to get things perfect so after 30 minutes of not being happy with my drawings on day 1 I erased everything and went ‘freehand’.
  3. Going straight into painting without sketching my illustrations first forced me to think differently about what I was painting/drawing, loosen up and not ‘care so much’ (it brought back memories from the last Inktober challenge!).
  4. I gave up on perfection… and it felt good! At first I was really disappointed with some of my illustrations that looked inferior to what I normally draw at home. As soon as I reminded myself that it was okay for things not to look exactly like my photos, I started to enjoy myself a lot more and funnily enough the illustrations got better!
  5. Drawing complicated stuff (like people kayaking) freehand when you are hungover is very difficult. Actually drawing anything when you are hungover is more difficult!
  6. Wait for the ink to dry! I really should have remembered this one since I work a lot with Indian ink. Except that since I used an artist brush pen instead of my usual brush and bottle of ink I didn’t quite think it through which resulted in small smudges here and there – lesson learnt!
  7. I added some text to my pages but I didn’t have a particular plan when I started writing. Like the rest, I decided not to overthink it and I just wrote whatever came to my mind. I might not win the Pulitzer Prize for it but it worked just fine for me.
  8. As the days passed and I started to let go some interesting things started to happen. I became more confident and it was reflected in every aspect of what I drew (use of space, colour, subject matter, etc.). Sure, it was maybe not the illustration project of the year, but it was mine, and I owned it!

In hindsight there’s a bunch of stuff that I would now do differently.

But you know what? It actually doesn’t matter so much. Yes, there were a few bumps but there were some really cool things too!

As imperfect as they are, not only do those illustrations tell the story of what I did during this trip but they also show how I grew in just 6 days and that, in itself, is amazing!

And I am so proud that I committed to drawing every day and that in addition to the photos I took I also have illustrations of my holiday!

Editorial illustration practice and the lessons I learnt

Every now and then I like to make some time to learn new skills, get better at the ones I already have, and to challenge myself.

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that my challenge of the month is Inktober. Not long before that, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and to practise editorial illustration as this is something that I would love to do more of in the future.

Luckily I found Ed J Brown’s class on Skillshare which enabled me to ‘fake’ the conditions of a commission and set a strict deadline to my practice.

I picked the article about US economic growth as I felt that starting with an article that was a bit dry might help to make other articles after that easier in comparison. And this was challenging indeed!

DAY 1

After reading the article a few times and highlighting the key points I started taking a few notes and doodling, which was quickly followed by some rough sketches (I drew 14 in total but am only showing my top 5 favourites)..

Notes and initial doodles

4454263c

Top 5 favourite sketches

71134c8e

DAY 2

Sometimes it’s a good idea to sleep on what you’ve drawn and to look at it with fresh eyes the next day. In the case of my editrial illustration practice, I felt that I wasn’t quite there yet and sketched 8 new images. I ended up choosing the sketch below.

f66a107b

DAY 3

After facing several problems with my illustration and trying different colour palettes while trying to maintain my usual style I had to come to the conclusion that it was just not working and that if this had been a real assignment, I would have failed miserably .

Below some of my unfinished attempts:

de542eeb

528511f5

DAY 4

I decided to give myself another chance, because who likes failure? So I cheated and allowed myself to work on a few different concepts knowing that if this had been a real assignment my Art Director would have probably not been very happy with me, or he/she wouldn’t have allowed it altogether.

Besides my clear composition and planning problems, I think that my main issue was that I ‘cared’ a bit too much (read: I was taking it all a bit too seriously).

Fortunately, Ed was an absolute star and as well as giving me some constructive feedback, he gave me some words of encouragement that made me more determined than ever to finish that mock assignment and more importantly, to have fun while doing it.

So I simply followed Ed’s advice to not care so much. And it worked!

I started with a red background because I liked the contrast with the black and white illustration…

us-economic-growth_illustrationv2-3

But while I had chosen colours that I liked, I had forgotten an important detail: the article was about growth and red wasn’t quite the right colour to convey the positive message of the article. Ed’s feedback confirmed my own thoughts. So I tried a green and a blue version instead.

us-economic-growth_illustrationv2_green2

And ended up choosing the blue one.

 

162e029c

 

CONCLUSION

Past the disappointment resulting from my failure to finish on time and to finish the illustration that I had initially selected, I was really glad that this was practice and not a paid assignment. And I was glad that I got to learn so much in the process.

Here is what I got out of the exercise:

  • Plan my illustrations more carefully in the future: take the final dimensions of the illustration and the title placement into account earlier in the process.
  • Keep calm: I didn’t mention this and it probably ties in with the first lesson I learnt, but I was overexcited when I started working on this personal project. This probably resulted in me rushing things a little (at least at the beginning).
  • Pick colours that reflect the message of the article.
  • … But don’t overthink it.
  • And have fun!

I really enjoyed Ed’s class and strongly recommend it if you too want to practise editorial illustration in near-real assignment conditions.

 

Inktober 2016, 7-12

file-12-10-2016-18-17-44

file-12-10-2016-18-04-27

file-12-10-2016-18-03-59

file-12-10-2016-18-04-13

file-12-10-2016-18-04-47

file-12-10-2016-18-05-06

Splish Splosh

Il pleut, il mouille

C’est la fête à la grenouille

Il pleut il fait pas beau

C’est la fête à l’escargot

In this kind of weather I can’t help singing the nursery rhymes of my childhood and they are obviously in French (sorry folks!).

Here is something everyone can understand though:

rain-umbrella

rain-splish-splosh1

rain-boots

rain-splish-splosh2

rain-plouf

Which puddle would you want to jump into?

(Inspiration: Cécile Hudrisier)

Axolotl 2.0

Axolotl-ish

Watercolour is fun.

Axolotls are fun.

Tadaaa!

(Drawing and painting technique inspiration: Cécile Hudrisier)

Seaside

Yesterday I was in a mood for small houses, ladders, sea and little fishies

And I was inspired by the fabulous work of illustrator Cécile Hudrisier

Seaside1Seaside2Seaside3Seaside4Seaside5

Everyone Can Be A Unicorn

The big (and good) surprise of the week was that I was contacted by a street artist who informed me that they had been inspired by one of my sketches and had used it in one of their street art pieces.

To tell you the truth I feel really honoured and proud that my work could inspire somebody else!

Sketch2StreetArt

left: my sketch – right: its street art counterpart.

In case you’re wondering, this little big guy now lives in Berlin.