Category Archives: sketching


Over the last few years, we’ve written about sketching a few times. We discovered Sketchbook Skool in 2015 and have been practicing ever since – watercolour, lettering, quieting down the art critic in our heads and working at a creative habit.

I recently started another course called Seeing. It might be the fourth one I have started (before finishing the other three…but that’s not important!).

And the course has partially coincided with the last spring snow/ice pellet/freezing rain storm. With nearly three days mostly spent indoors – and having had my fill of Netflix – I settled in to watching the online videos for this course.

Seeing sounds kind of simple. Ha. The practice of sketching something by really looking at it – including selfies in the mirror! – is about slowing down. Looking closely. Staring at it. And I found it brought a similar feeling to the yoga I’ve been practicing  for years. Be present. Slow down. Really look. Don’t assume. And breathe…


borrowing beauty

I’ve worked in advertising and marketing for a long time…and you learn that there are very few truly new ideas. A different spin. A different angle. Some little thing to make it a new”er” idea. And since imitation is a great form of flattery, we were thinking about the beautiful ideas we borrow to find inspiration – for pottery designs, dinner and for our sketchbooks.

Wine labels are a great source of sketching ideas. Last summer I found an Australian white Summer Shack that had a playful, relaxed label with a line up of beach houses. Kind of the way they want you to feel after a glass or two:-). We turned those houses into sketching subjects, and notecards.

summer shack

Here are some recently spotted labels that we’ll be lining up to draw.

What inspires you?


colour me calm

Adult colouring books were hot items on this past holiday season gotta have gift list.

coloured pencils 2

I have seen the computer-generated flowers and intricate designs that are supposed to be as good for you as yoga. They don’t really do it for me – kind of sterile and predictable.

But it was the one my brother got at Christmas that just might have got the meditative colouring hook in me.

Fantastic Cities is a beautifully sketched book of cities all around the world by Ontario artist Steve McDonald . I watched my brother go zen-like with his row of perfectly sharpened pencils as he filled in architectural details of rooftops in Germany and windowsills in Manhattan. He even humoured me, taking a break and letting me have a go when his fingers got tired.

At first, colouring within the lines felt like cheating or regressing from the sketching I’ve been doing over the last year or two where I actually have to draw and paint the images I create. But there I was, happily lost in the repetitive motion. As I held my nose to the page to differentiate fine details in the sketch, I realized I was also learning more about the art of sketching. The proportions, the angles and the layering.

I’ve started a sketch-a-day “challenge” for myself in 2016. And now, I’m waiting for Amazon to deliver my new set of pencils and my very own copy of Fantastic Cities.

Between colouring, sketching and weekly yoga, the mellowness may be overwhelming.



stress-free sketching

I’ve always loved the idea of sketching. From afar. Wishing my hand would flow freely and loosely over the page. For years I’ve been buying local art. Loving to look at it. Never really imagining I might be able to create just a little piece of my own.

And then we found Sketchbook Skool through a friend. An interesting and accessible way to learn sketchbook journalling with a range of artist instructors.

The entire course is delivered online. Every Friday, for six weeks in a row, new video instruction is made available – samples of the instructors sketchbooks, tips and techniques, and a homework assignment.

We did our first course about a year and a half ago. And I got hooked. Big time. Danny Gregory’s style really stuck with me – and I’ve read a couple of his books Art Before Breakfast and A Kiss Before You Go. And my sister and I took a second six-week course from artist Jane LaFazio who had been one of the instructors from our first go round.

What I really like about Sketchbook Skool is the Friday night lesson timing. It was a great way to end the week, leaving paid work stress behind and getting lost in the pages of the artist-of-the-week’s sketchbooks. And as I worked at the “draw what you see, not what you know” sketching mantra…I realized that while I sketched, everything else disappeared.

And I had a new reason to buy more notebooks, new pens, watercolour sets, brushes…and even more notebooks.

Here’s a little gallery from last year and a half of sketchbook journalling.