Daily advent illustrations

With a warm heart I look back at the past december month, in which we celebrated Christmas and the coming of a new year for the first time as a family! These very special days were absolutely amazing and I'm grateful to be able to have shared them with the people I love. 


Throughout the month I counted the days from the first of december until Christmas with a daily illustration. Here's an overview of my illustrated advent illustrations! 


Once again I loved doing a daily project and committing myself to a series of illustrations this way. It's always surprising what you come up with and a great moment to try out some new stuff and just create! 
I loved sharing all these illustrations with you and I'm already planning on a new daily project! 


Birding is badass - 14 days of birds

This month I worked on an awesome 14 day project. For two weeks I made a bird a day. During the project I let myself be inspired by the materials I used, and of course by the birds I saw and studied in these 14 days. 

 Day 3, coal tit. I really sounds like spring when I hear all the small birds around our house!

Day 3, coal tit. I really sounds like spring when I hear all the small birds around our house!

I watched the tits on my balcony, listened to the chattering of the house sparrows on the street and watched the magpies build their own party in the trees I look out on from my studio window.

To make my birds I used gouache, aquarel and collage techniques. Here's an overview of the illustrations I made. 

Decorating windows

Watching people walk by and seeing them smile when looking at my illustrations made my day! Last month I decorated Café Nescio's windows by drawing the local city park on them, together with some deer and Pep, the owner's dog. 

My Nature Journal

Gouache, ink and ecoline. Pencil and fineliner, posca markers and photography. 
All materials I used in my Nature Journal, and I love combining them to get just the vibe I'm looking for. 
Journaling is my way to experiment and to try new things on a regular basis. A way to collect memories and to reflect on my outdoor adventures and experiences.
This is the nature journal I kept in April and May 2015. 

Can't wait to start your own journal, but would like a little help? 
Here's where you can find my Nature Journal including a 21 day email guide to get you started! 


Spring adventures

Spring is an awesome time for nature journaling! 
The forest is getting greener every day, the days are long and I'm making lots of great trips. 
I've been seeing and hearing a lot of woodpeckers lately. I also saw a falcon, the local 
Buzzard community almost on a daily basis, lots of red deer today and (already) quite some bugs and insects. I even saw a fox in broad daylight on one of my hikes! 
Journaling is the perfect way to take the time to reflect on my experiences and to try and experiment with new materials.

Rewilding again

A year ago I decided to join the Rewild your Life April Challenge.
Has it really been a year? It has, wow! Time really flies. 
Last year I kept a journal during the challenge, and made a movie of the journal I kept during the challenge. This is last year's journal

This year I decided to join the April Challenge again. Exactly one year later, with this freshly bound, supernew journal.
For the next 30 days I will try to spend at least 30 minutes in nature each day. And I will write, draw, sketch and paint in my journal of course. 


I bind my journals myself and try to use as many eco-friendly materials and recycled papers as possible when making them. 

After the first few days of rewilding I realized how accustomed I am to being outdoors each day, how easy this challenge is for me. It also immediately occurred to me that that's really not the point, because joining the challenge again feels like something I really want, something I really need. It feels more like a reward; I'm actually giving myself 30 days to really focus on what I see, do and experience when I am outdoors. 30 days of making inspirational trips and illustration hikes and lots of me-time. 
It's the best thing ever, I'm enjoying every minute of it! 


Painting autumn leaves

Last week I took a hike, and brought home a lot of beautiful autumn leaves to paint.
I love the variety of the leaves you can find as they are all different and unique, and I find it very inspiring to let the shapes and veins determin what shapes and lines I paint. 

You should try it yourself, it's so much fun! 
Collect several fallen autumn leaves from your yard or the forest. 
Try to find different shapes, sizes and colors to experiment with, and choose the ones that are still a bit shiny and flexible. If the leaves are too dry or curled to much, they are too fragile to paint.

I used a white paint marker to paint my leaves, I like using it because you can use it everywhere and don't need anything except the marker itself, but you can also use white gouache and a small pencil, or even try different colors. 

Try not to limit yourself by thinking too much about what your painting, I find it very relaxing to just paint whatever comes to mind, to just let the leaf tell me where my lines are going. Do try it, the outcome can be very surprising! 

When taken indoors, the leaves have a tendency of drying out quite quickly, and becoming too dry and curly too paint well. It's a great idea to paint outdoors of course, but painting them on the same day as you found them will work just as well.
If you, for some reason, can't paint them right away you can preserve them by carefully placing them between pages of a heavy book.

Have fun!  

Rustling like autumn leaves - the step-by-step process

Today I would like to share with you the step-by-step process of a hand lettered illustration I just finished. 'Rustling like autumn leaves' is the first illustration of a new series I'm working on. 

Step 1: 
First I picked the phrase I wanted to use.  
This might sound like the easy part, but I'm very peculiar and picky about the phrases and words I want to use and illustrate, and it usually takes me quite some time to figure out the exact words or phrase I want to draw. I really only want to illustrate phrases that really mean something to me on a personal level, and it shouldn't be too long or too short. 
When I can't decide on a phrase just jet in this phase I usually pick a theme. 

Step 2: 
After writing down the phrase and theme I picked, I wrote down all words related to the theme and things I think of when imagining these words. At this moment I knew I wanted to illustrate handlettered words about autumn, but I still wasn't sure about the exact phrase... after associating with the words for a while I decided 'Rustling like autumn leaves' had the sound and feel and look that I liked for this illustration. 

Step 3:
Time to start sketching!  I usually make a lot of sketches in which I try different compositions, different lettering style and sizes and vary with the images around the letters. 
I use a simple HB-pencil, plain white paper and a staedtler eraser in this phase. 

Step 4:
After deciding about the composition, the style of lettering and the general look and feel of the illustration it's time to make a rough sketch.

Step 5:
Time to refine my rough sketch, by tracing it onto a new piece of paper. I use my window as a light box, which is ideal for tracing!

Step 6:
At this point I trace the pencil drawing with a fiber tip pen. I always use the 0.1 fiber tip pens from Faber Castell, which I love. They are definitely my favorite drawing pens. 
After tracing the illustration I erase  the pencil and scan it into my computer. 

Step 7:
Time to decide on the color palette and to play with different backgrounds and gradients.  I wanted to use typical autumn colors like rich orange and warm red and decide on using a minty green as a complementary color. It takes a while to experiment with the colors to find the right balance in the illustration. Quite often I make three or four illustrations in different colors, and decide later which one I like best. 

Step 8:
After coloring in the illustration I add some extra details, like shadows, some extra swirls and decorative leaves for that final touch.

And there we are, it's finished!
Do you have a step-by-step process you use when working on a project? Let me know in the comments, I love to talk about this and find it inspiring to read about the way other people work and draw!