Last weekend I had a trip to Amsterdam to film my classes for Sketchbook Skool. I'll be a tutor in the second Semester, which kicks off on July 4th. I was met by the co-founder of the skool Koosje Koene and we spent two full days of filming.
I have to say I was more than a little nervous. I am not a natural in the front of the camera, in fact it's probably one of my biggest fears so if you are signing up to the second semester then please understand!
I really enjoyed the whole project, though. More than I thought I could, which was thanks to Koosje. I think we worked well together and I hope that my videos will be enjoyable, informative and useful, despite my awkwardness.
As well as filming we got to hang out in Koosje's neighbourhood a little. We ate some great food (those guys really know how to eat well) and, of course, we did a little bit of drawing.
I remember, at one point, discussing, with her, some of the other sketchers I'd met over the last few years and saying "some of them are REALLY obsessive, really hardcore sketchers". I then proceeded to make 17 drawings in my short stay! Turns out I might just be a little bit obsessive myself.
Here are thirteen of the sketchbook pages I made. I also did a couple of 'finish at home' jobbies - which I'll post later. And, of course, one drawing that will be revealed at Sketchbook Skool. The other sketch I made was so bad NOBODY will ever be seeing it. Koosje asked what I do if one of my pages goes wrong. I said "collage". Her musician husband, Pascal, said "ah, in music we call it a medley". I liked that quote.
One evening we sat outside a great restaurant, in the sun, where Koosje and Pascal are regulars. I drew the guy in the cap, below, whom Koosje called 'an old sock' - which is an expression for a young guy person who has an old soul (I guess). Again, I liked that expression and the magpie in me will be flying off with these and storing them for future use.
Koosje also remarked on how quickly I made my sketches. That, again, is something I'd never noticed about my own drawing. And it came as a surprise to hear, as over the past few years I've sat labouring over drawings that take hours and hours and hours. But, she is quite right. It's true.
I've taught myself how to draw really quickly more recently. Yes, I still do my long highly worked-up time consuming drawings, but I've also learnt to capture things as they are happening. It's not only a totally new way of drawing for me but it has also opened up a whole new way of seeing the world. I'll tell you how I did that sometime - but that's another film/class/blog/song.
So, that was my weekend. I had no idea at the beginning of May that I'd be making this trip so it was an unexpected surprise. I also got an extra day in Amsterdam to wonder around, in the sunshine, drawing whatever took my fancy.
When I look at the drawings I made there it makes me realise how far I have come in the last few years. Just two or three year ago, I'd never have been able to do this stuff. I'd never have drawn people on the plane, in the park, having coffee. But that's what keeping a sketchbook or illustrated journal does. It's not just a place to document your life, but also somewhere to work on your skills and techniques.
And, just one more observation I made on this trip; if you ever thought that being cabin crew was a glamorous job then you ain't ever been on the weekend stag-party flights from the UK to Amsterdam. Those guys deserve medals.