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A Sketchbooking Retreat – Part 1

Posted by Koosje Koene in ArtJournal, sketchbook on August 28, 2017

We’re never too old to learn

In fact, as an artist, you have an obligation towards yourself to keep learning so you can keep developing your art, your style, your skills, your ideas and your creativity.

For Sketchbook Skool, I am lucky to get to hang out with artists whose work I truly admire, and I learn a lot from them in klass, just like all the students in Skool. Plus I learn loads from all the students too! A creative community like Sketchbook Skool makes you see so many different approaches towards making art!

As I love online learning a lot, I never actually attended a live sketch workshop. Never really encountered one of interest, never really felt interested either I guess.

But last week I attended a three-day live workshop. Just in time, the day before the workshop started, Ihad met all my deadlines and that meant I could dive in and attend the workshop without thinking about obligations, work or other distractions. It felt like I was going on a retreat. A Sketchbooking Retreat.

The workshop called ‘Urban (E)scapes: Pushing Your Sketch Boundaries’ was taught by three master sketchers: Isabel Carmona, Inma Serrano and Miguel Herranz.

If you’ve been following and reading my blog for a while, you may already know that I have a huge art crush on Miguel Herranz’ work – and ever since I met him – a bit on Miguel himself too. When (years ago) he told me the crush was mutual, I could feel myself blush!

More Art crushes

I heard (through the urban sketchers Facebook grapevines) that Miguel would be teaching in Rotterdam. That’s only 40 minutes away from Amsterdam, where i live, and it happens to be one of my favorite Dutch cities. Then once the program was released, I saw that he would be accompanied by his very good friend Inma Serrano. I’ve been following her online and admire her work. Yes, you guessed it: another art crush! Also, Isabel Carmona would be teaching – I have to admit I didn’t really know her work but was pretty sure I would love learning from her as well. And I did. Just like in Sketchbook Skool, when you attend a multi-teacher kourse, the teacher whose work you’re not familiar with, or you don’t know what to expect from, might be the one that teaches you most!

It was fun to be amongst a group of 30 fanatic sketchers, all eager to learn from our three teachers. It was amazing to discover that at least 20 of them are also Sketchbook Skolars! During our round of introduction, Sketchbook Stool was mentioned a lot as one of the things that made people start drawing again after years. I am not writing this to brag, I am writing this because it was so heart warming to hear, it almost made me tear up.


I loved the mix of styles of the teachers, in their art as well as in their teaching style. Miguel’s introvert ways, intellectual thinking, theoretical basics and a simplistic approach to seemingly difficult challenges helped me deepen an experience. Helped me tell a story on a page. Threw me off-balance at some points and then once I got over the bump I simply didn’t want to stop anymore.

Isabel is an architect but as a sketcher she has a very playful approach towards architecture and added quite a few layers of challenges as she made us use our imagination, knowledge of history, and ALL of our drawing tools in one page. Some of her exercises made me struggle to fill pages, but mostly they made me feel like a kid again, playing with all my art materials.

Inma Serrano made us look at our surroundings in a different way and capture the movements and dynamics in the city. Trams, cars, cyclists, people: how to capture them all when they’re moving so fast? Well, YOU need to be fast too, and once you catch the rhythm of the city, you CAN capture the movements and the energy. With a lot of practice that is, of course.

It’s not like I’m done now after these three intensive days. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of all approaches and techniques that were presented the past days!

Here’s a 2-minute flip through of the drawings that I made during the workshop. I haven’t had time to scan the pages yet as I am traveling and filming for Sketchbook Skool right now.

So when I return from my production obligations and filming adventure next week, I’ll share the drawings that I made and will tell you about the things that I learned.


Koosje Koene

Hi I'm Koosje. I'm an illustrator and art teacher in Amsterdam, where I was born and raised. I went to school to study graphic design, then worked for ten years as an award-winning professional photographer. But eventually my love of drawing and painting took over and I became an illustrator. My illustrations have been published in many Dutch magazines and in 2011, I began blogging and started developing and teaching online art classes. In 2014 I founded Sketchbook Skool, which is a flourishing community of artists from around the world of all skill levels.