About Koosje Koene
Artists and teacher Koosje Koene is the creator of Draw Tip Tuesday, a weekly YouTube series. She also authored the book Life Is Better When You Draw (it). Every day on Instagram, she posts a drawing and a piece of encouragement for people who need a bit of inspiration. On Patreon, she posts even more content for those who want more guidance and motivation.
Koosje offers a casual and fun approach to sketching and watercolor. Koosje has taught Art Walk programs in Greece and in the South of France. Now, we are looking forward to her sold out workshop in September 2023 to Italy. Would you like to travel with Koosje? Don’t miss out on her June 2024 Art Walk in Switzerland. Register early to save your space.
Read on to learn a little more about Koosje Koene’s approach and teaching style. You can also find additional information on her personal website.
Some artists specialize in a medium or a subject matter. Koosje specializes in learning. She approaches each day (especially travel days!) with a desire to try new things. Nothing is off limits for her travel journal. With a joy and playfulness that is contageous, she learns, practices, and then passes on her knowledge. I’ve already taken two Art Walks with Koosje. I look forward to many more.
Artist Interview: Koosje Koene
How do you work? What is your teaching style?
Drawing is not just about developing skills, although I do teach you techniques and give tips that will help you develop your skills and confidence.
I won’t be teaching you exactly how to draw. The why of drawing is the most important thing: it makes you happy, and more mindful of the moment. You could see drawing as a form of meditation. I won’t be giving you step-by-step instructions, because there are no rules when it comes to drawing. The only rule is to enjoy it. Have fun and don’t take it too seriously – it’s just pen on paper. While at the same time, you are documenting your life, your vacation, in a very special way.
When you draw the things around you – whether capturing small moments or big adventures – you use all your senses and make memories last by being completely in the moment.
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 than the drawing you didn’t make at all.
It’s about the process
With each drawing experience, you learn a little. Or a lot. I make mistakes too 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 made didn’t turn 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 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.
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!
Why do you do what you do?
I love drawing. It makes me see the world around me in a different, more ‘mindful’ way.
My mission is to teach others how to enjoy the drawing process. To draw fearlessly and to let go of perfectionism. Because it is just so much fun!
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. Bigger than you think. 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 filled 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 is your background?
My goal is to help people to understand the process of creativity. Making mistakes is part of it. Embracing them can be hard at first, but I can teach you how to let go of the huge expectations we can set for ourselves when it comes to drawing. Discovering that the drawing practice is all about the act of drawing, and not about the result, is liberating. It helps you be more courageous to try new things, and to get out of your comfort zone. By doing this, you develop as an artist and as a person.
I have always 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. After school 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.
Over time 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. In 2021, I started to regularly teach in-person workshops – like these Art Walks!
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.
I personally often used to be restless, and I couldn’t sit still. I was always thinking “what’s next?”. That is until I discovered the power of the sketchbook. Since then, I draw the things around me. I found a way to pause, and to forget about time or any to-dos.
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 have made so many new friends just by chatting with people who approach me while I draw. Drawing on the bus makes your line wobbly and can make you feel queasy. Drawing in the back of a tuktuk is very hard and soooo fun!