why sometimes ‘it’ just won’t work and what to do about it


If you’re drawing a portrait, it’s the most marvellous feeling in the world to see your lines turn into a face, and not just a face: THE face. You want to capture the characteristics of your model. You don’t just want the drawing to look like the model, you want it to BE the model. It’s creating magic. Everytime this occurs I amaze myself. I just can’t stop looking at what I did: it’s beyond words, for I simply can not explain how I managed to capture these characteristics that make the person real and unmistakenly recognizable. 

But sometimes it just won’t work. And when that happens it drives me mad. Because as I can’t explain why the model secretly sneaks up in the drawing and makes it alive, I neither can explain why it doesn’t. Like with this drawing,…

It drove me mad: Is it the nose? Is it wide enough? Is the tip of the nose round enough? The nostrils flat enough? 
Yeah,.. the nose is okay,..

The lips then? Small enough? Does she smiles the way the model does? 

Yeah, nothing weird here.

Then it must be the eyes, but what’s wrong with them? The shape is correct,.. 

So, .. what to do? He’re some things for starters: 

  • Don’t panic. It happens to all of us and it really is an opportunity to learn. It could well be that you wanted to draw a tilted head or a trois quart portrait. Those always are more difficult. If you think this is too complicated for you and you just don’t get it right: don’t be ashamed to go back to the front faced portrait, you’ll have more luck doing these. Or,… read on,..
  • If you did draw a tilted head. Remember: it is tilted, for I know you really want to draw the lines of the mouth, nose and eyes horizontal. But in this case you can’t,.. a tilted head has slanted lines; check it.
  • Don’t draw what you don’t see! This is the most important thing I can teach you. You know lips are a two-piece. But, .. can you see both? Most of the time you can’t see the lower lip. So you shouldn’t have sketched it out.
  • Take a cup of tea,.. and let the drawing rest for a while,.. Sometimes you need more than half an hour before you regain a fresh look up on your work. Sometimes a day or two is better. But if this is the day you have to finish it,.. (ai,.. the pressure! That’s killing too, you know? ) than maybe the next tip will work for you.
  • Take a picture of your work. It’s really weird, but the photo will make you able to focus on details you earlier didn’t notice. And,.. back to work,…
  • Are all lines correct? Did you start with the right shape of the head? To check this: hold your pencil parallel with the outerline of the original head, then move the pencil to your drawing. Is it still parallel? Same trick is to be applied with all other lines. Wanna see how I do that? Check the video. 
  • How about proportions? Are the eyes evenly placed related to the vertical middle line,.. for example? (In the picture you see above, they weren’t, as I found out after a cup of tea and taking a picture.)
  • The second last thing is as important as all of the above: don’t forget to harden or soften your lines. Hard lines makes a person look older, so if you drew a kid, but she looks years older than her actual age,… blend your lines,…
  • And,.. don’t give up! Most of the time all you need to adjust is one line, .. find that line! 

Hope this worked! I managed to correct the eyes of the example in this post. Much better! This is the end result: 


why henna is cool


Some time ago I made a tattoo design for my cousin. She really wanted to have all the initials of her children on her skin, plus 3 stars, representing her unborn children. 

I made this design, which she was really happy about. But after a year she still had doubts on wether to take the tattoo or not. (Mainly because her husband hates tattoos) 

So she desided she wanted a less permanent tattoo. Just to get used to the idea, make up her mind, and maybe convince her husband. 

So I gave her this henna tattoo. I hope it will make her decide on taking the tattoo,.. or not. A semi permanent tattoo is very handy for this purpose.

Because I had plenty of henna paste left, and I was invited to a birthday party of my twin-nieces, I also drew a few tattoos at the party. Making it a henna party! Henna is so much fun! My nieces were so excited! They were getting a ‘real’ tattoo and tried to sit very still! So cute! My nephew, son, and brother in law, also wanted one, and I still have henna paste left! 

So I put it in the freezer. Hope it won’t harm the structure or durability. The henna paste usually is old after 3 days, and it is not to be kept in the fridge,.. dont know why, … So I hope I’ll be okay when I defreeze it! Keep you posted. 

456 things to draw


“Do you feel like drawing, painting, use chalk, do a sculpture in clay, cut and paste, but you don’t have any inspiration? Don’t fear: 456 things to draw will give you many ideas. Draw something you would never think of drawing. This book will pull you out of your comfort zone. In it you will find space to do 456 crazy drawing exercises on extra thick paper. The paper is suitable for all kinds of techniques. From croquettes to fruit liqueurs, from a runny nose to a root canal, from a wining child to colorful make-up techniques. These 456 new and unusual instructions will surely entertain you.”

I got this book from my mom. She saw it in the bookstore and immediately thought I should have it. And although I am very happy with it, I can’t help wondering one thing: why didn’t I think of this? The book is awesome: I certainly draw stuff I never thought of drawing, but why didn’t I think of drawing the stuff they suggest in the book? Is the book meant for becoming more creative, or is it meant for people who lack creativity?

I sure hope the book will help me become more creative. I usually just need one little idea to come up with bigger, different ideas. I think that’s what the book is supposed to do; help you think out of the box. Because that’s all you need to do to get creative: stop thinking in the way you always thought. Outside the box is where you will find new ideas. And if you go outside the box more often; new and crazy ideas will come up more easy.

But does it work? I only did two drawings in the book. (I just got it.) One of the instructions was: the day after tomorrow. Two days after I did the drawing; I had to give my students an exam, so I drew students taking an exam (so much for thinking out of the box and getting more creative,.. sigh,..). For the other drawing I was told to draw ‘speculations’. How does anyone draw speculations? The word has two meanings, so I chose the most easy meaning: “activity in which someone buys and sells things (such as stocks or pieces of property) in the hope of making a large profit but with the risk of a large loss”. And I drew the mission house in our city. This mission house is subject to speculations, and therefore abandoned and becoming a ruin more and more each day. Such a sin!

So; did I get more creative by doing these two drawings? Is the book proof I lack creativity? No, it isn’t proof I lack creativity, but I guess I still need more exciting exercises if I want to practice in becoming more creative. The book is still fun though. Thank you mom!


art at a children’s birthday party


My son will have his 13th birthday this Thursday. Even though he’s a big boy now, he still wanted a real children’s birthday party,.. a Star wars birthday party of course. But, how to throw a Star wars birthday party? The internet is full of tips and tricks; from a Star wars BINGO to a Star wars galaxy Obleek, (don’t ask me,..) and from a death star piñata to edible TIE-fighters.

(if you’re interested in any of these ideas: here are the links: BINGO, Obleek, Piñata and TIE-fighters)

But, since my son’s autistic, and all of his friends are too,… the piñata had to be crossed off the list,.. the TIE-fighters were a good idea, but there’s no way you are able to buy hexagon-shaped cookies in the Netherlands, I didn’t know what to do with the obleek, and for bingo I needed a bunch of presents, wherefore I did not have enough money nor ideas.

So, it was time to throw in some art! I decided to let them paint T-shirts. With star wars templates of course. Both the templates and the paint were homemade. Because: do you know where to buy Star wars templates? And textile paint is waaaaaay to expensive to buy. Googling on the internet I found out that you can turn gouache into textile paint (you can also use acrylic paint), all you have to do is buy a bottle of textile medium! Textile medium isn’t very expensive, and neither is gouache; so you’ll have plenty of textile paint for a minimum amount of money! I used Creall tex mix; but the T-shirts haven’t been Curtis verjaardag 03washed yet, so I can’t assure you it works,… yet,..

The templates were made from pizza boxes. I spend a whole evening drawing them and cutting them out of the cardboard. I used a small scissor and a sharp knife. I was afraid the cardboard would be too weak to be used by children. Especially since some of the templates had very small strips, which were easy to break, but luckily the kids were very cautious, and there were enough adults to assist them during painting. The results were amazing!Curtis verjaardag 04

If you’re planning to do this, make sure you have enough time to cut out the templates and,.. (something that totally slipped my mind) make sure to give the kids aprons! The textile paint is meant to stay on textile,.. so it surely can ruin the shirt they’re wearing!

Being creative on a party is great, but it wouldn’t be a party without snacks and presents. So I designed a game for this. It was a ‘board-game’ covering two kitchen table tops. +/- 50 colored paper sheets, laid down in a circle, represented about 50 different tiles. 20 of the tiles offered a snack for the visiting player. 2 of the tiles asked the player to sing a birthday song, 2 tiles made them skip turns, and 4 tiles bid the player to throw the dice a second time. Currtis verjaardag 01

All of the kids had presents for my son. Instead of just giving him the presents, they had to hide them. The hiding was part of this board game. During the game they could visit a tile that said them to hide their present. My son had to leave the room for a moment, and after the present was hid, he was to search for it. I also bought little presents for my son’s friends. These presents also were hid and found during the game.

If you like to use this game for your party, this is the ‘board-game’s plan:

birthday game

Some instructions:

  • if the birthday boy visits the tile ‘hide your present’, he can choose who’s present he wants to search
  • if the birthday boy visits the tile ‘search your present’, there’s no action, since the little presents aren’t for him
  • if a child visits a tile ‘search your present’ or ‘hide your present’ while he already found or hid his present, there’s no action
  • the game’s finished when all of the presents are found
  • if you want to speed up the game; leave out the ‘skip turn’ tiles and write down ‘hide or search your present’ on the blank tiles
  • give them small snacks: 3 slices of potato chips, a small cookie, miniature donuts, miniature hot dogs or miniature marshmallows will do just fine

The art-part of the game were the pawns. To stick to the theme, all of the kids had a Star wars pawn. I had cut six pieces of wood, primed them with GESSO, and painted 6 different Star wars figures on them. My son also had collected 6 plastic Star wars cups, so the cups matched the pawns, which I thought was quite nice.

I did not have time to paint the pawns with oil-paint. I don’t have acrylic paint, so I used marker pens. The funny thing is; when you’re drawing with marker pens on a primed object, the ink dries slower, so you can mix and blend the ink while drawing. The result is much like a painting. I was surprised! It was hard to recreate the images in the short amount of time I had (I started painting 2 hours before the party,…. ai,…) But I’m happy with the results nevertheless.Curtis verjaardag 02