Illustrator, artist, and co-founder of Sketchbook Skool, ArtWalk teacher Koosje Koene tells a bit about her approach and teaching style:
Why do you do what you do?
Drawing brings joy in my life. It makes me a happier and better person, and it makes me see the world around me in a different, more ‘mindful’ way.
How do you work? What is your teaching style?
I always work in a sketchbook – from tiny to fairly large (A3). Usually A5 or A4. I learn by doing. A lot. That’s how I teach too: I encourage my students to just TRY, even when you feel insecure or you think you can’t. The drawing you make is always better that the drawing you didn’t make. With each drawing experience, you learn a little. Or a lot. I make mistakes during my workshops, and then point them out, just to show that making art is not about perfection, but about the process, and the exploration.
When traveling, there are so many impressions and experiences. And emotions too. By sitting down to take it all in, being in the moment, you capture great memories – they will stay vivid memories, more so than what you can capture in a picture. When you draw, all your senses open up. Through your pen and your brush, you capture it all on your page. Even when you think the drawing you make turned out that great. When you look back at your travel pages, you will be reminded again of the breeze you felt at the moment of sketching, the sounds around you, the temperature… even the smells. I teach people to take it all in, and then not feel overwhelmed by the idea of capturing it ALL. We will take it bit by bit. Exploring and playing with line, color, and adding notes.
What is your background?
I co-founded Sketchbook Skool, the online community for artists all around the world. Sketchbook Skool’s instructors teach drawing techniques, but even more important, encourage you to break the rules and just make art rather than waiting for inspiration.
I always have loved drawing. After high school, I went to graphic design school because of my love for drawing. Then after that I sort of ‘rolled into’ going to art school to become a photographer. Then I worked as a freelance photographer for about 10 years. It was a great job, and I made a good living with it. But at some point I felt like I needed to do more with my drawing skills, and the joy I get out of it.
I started drawing more and more. I realized I knew a lot of techniques, and wanted to share it with others. I started to teach online courses. While doing that, I kept learning more and more. I have the philosophy of teaching what you learn. So with everything I was learning, I had another reason to teach more classes online. I realized that there is SO much more to learn, and I can’t teach it all. Then I met Danny Gregory in 2013, and we joined forces to found Sketchbook Skool in 2014.
What inspires you?
Everything is interesting when you draw it. Inspiration is everywhere. But traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people and learning about different cultures is putting things in completely different and exciting perspectives. Learning from artists whose work I admire, boosts my creativity – and just knowing that you are never done learning is inspiring in itself!
What attracts you about travel journaling?
See my answer above. And: different colors, architecture, traffic, people – unfamiliar surroundings makes me want to draw everything! I used to be a professional photographer for years, and when I traveled I would come back with gorgeous photos. But the drawings I make when traveling capture so much more.
Why do students attend your courses? What will they get out of it?
They like my “you can do it” approach. I think my Dutch roots cause me to have a non-nonsense approach. I believe that you can do small things on a regular basis that build up to something big. Like: doing a drawing in a sketchbook might not feel that meaningful or big, but if you create page after page, you will have filled a whole sketchbook in the end. Which is a big accomplishment. Before you know it you will have a stack of sketchbooks with drawings that are very personal – they tell the story of your life in images. When you travel and you take time each day to fill a sketchbook page or a spread (or more than one! Just grab every possible moment, why not?) you are documenting your adventure in such a joyful and personal way. Your travel sketchbook pages are the most precious souvenirs – and you made them all by yourself!!
What have you learned from creating while you travel?
It’s the absolute best way of documenting a trip -I see so much more. I take time to draw. That might mean that I can’t see all the things you can cram into a day, but at least I really see a few of them. When you draw, you need to really look, and when you are looking, you start to see so much more. It’s the best way to relax. It’s the best way to kill time in airports, train stations, bus stations, on trains and planes etc. I made so many new friends (just by chatting with people coming up to me seeing me drawing). Drawing on the bus makes your line wobbly and can make you feel queezy. Drawing in the back of a tuktuk is very hard and soooo fun!
To learn more about Koosje visit her website.