This is a portrait of Colette from Museum by Sktchy started in my Sketchbook Skool Spark class yesterday and finished off after class.


In my last post I shared a portrait that I started during a workshop last weekend with watercolour artist Mario Robinson. Yesterday I began this portrait of Vic from Museum by Sktchy with the very deliberate intention of using my usual watercolour and coloured pencil approach BUT incorporating what I had learned from Mario’s workshop last weekend.

So instead of rushing the watercolour stage as I usually do I slowed right down. I started yesterday and finished today, spending at least twice as long as I usually do on it (2 hours +). I also used water in a second brush to soften the edges and preserve the highlights. And I tried to replicate some of Mario’s very swift brush strokes, designed to keep the brush on the paper for a short a time as possible.

I also didn’t do a number of things that I would usually do. I didn’t use any masking fluid – and I really like the end result just using water to preserve highlights, even if it takes longer. I didn’t use my usual darker fineliner – I’m not so sure about this decision. I feel like that’s part of my style and the portrait does look quite right without it. And because I did go in to finish off with my coloured pencil hatching I think that’s looks a little off (too strong ) without the fineliner outline to balance it. But I think my watercolour work is definitely better than it was a week ago, especially in the hair which is where I always lack the most confidence.

So I think going forward I will certainly be taking a lot of what I learned and incorporating it into my own method and adapting it to make it workable within the shorter timescales that I generally work with.


Last weekend Sketchbook Skool held an online watercolour workshop with the incredibly talented American watercolour artist Mario Robinson. I attended the workshop, and though I couldn’t stay for the whole live event, I was able to catch up with what I missed afterwards via online recordings.

I’ve spent several hours today painting the model from the workshop, Nellie, doing my best to follow Mario’s instruction. I didn’t have the same paints that he used (he used Winsor & Newton paints which I don’t have) or even all the same colours in other brands of paints so I had to do my best to approximate his colour mixes – but my painting is still much too brown. I clearly didn’t get the blue to brown ratio right when mixing.

I learned so much about technique from watching Mario work. But what I also learned is that I really don’t have the patience to be a realistic painter. I’m always too keen to just rush ahead with my pencil and brush. After 2 hours of blocking and glazing I’d more than had enough and I really didn’t want to do any more. I wanted to finish this and move on to my next portrait. So I stopped at this half- finished point rather than continue on…

Not quite a selfie

I’ve been slowly working my way through the back catalogue of Danny Gregory’s weekly Sketchbook Skool Draw With Me sessions on YouTube. I try to attend the live sessions of this on Thursday if I can but they sometimes clash with work so I’ve missed a lot and now I’m revisiting those missed sessions one by one.

Today I took the session on Drawing Distortion which invited everyone to draw a distorted version of Danny or themselves. I hate drawing selfies but love drawing distortion and have no issue with drawing a distorted version of myself! So I snapped a quick selfie and used a photo app on my iPhone to distort it. And then I went straight in with a fineliner drawing, then adding colour with some watercolour pencils I found in a drawer.

I love the end result. I think it’s instantly recognisable as me, while being very distorted 😂

If you want to check out a Draw with Me session you can find them on YouTube here.

M’s hand

We’re working on drawing hands in my Drawing Faces class for Sketchbook Skool’s Spark programme at the moment. I love drawing portraits that include hands and once you feel confident drawing hands you can draw so many more poses – heads in hands, people drinking or on their phone, someone scratching their head, etc – so I think it’s really important to learn to draw them even if you only want to draw faces. So we started with a hand pose and we’ll move on to portraits including hands in later classes.

Meredith’s child

It’s not often that I draw a whole person and even rarer that I do a portrait of a child, but who can resist a child in a dinosaur jacket? Not me. This is from a photo posted by Meredith on the Museum by Sktchy app.


Today’s portrait is not a Sktchy face. This is Danny Gregory, founder of Sketchbook Skool and all round art guru who is celebrating his birthday today. I owe Danny a lot. He is the person who got me drawing for the first time since childhood when I was in the depths of major depressive illness after a serious breakdown some years ago. It’s no exaggeration to say that drawing, and by extension Danny, was one of the things that helped to save my life.

Since that time chronic mental and physical illness has become a part of my life and daily drawing is part of my toolkit for maintaining my wellbeing. Sketchbook Skool and Sktchy, and the online communities that surround these, have become an integral part of my life and crucial to my mental and physical health. I’m hugely grateful to the people who make up these communities for their ongoing friendship and support and to Danny, Koosje Koene and Jordan Melnick for their foresight and hard work in creating and sustaining them.

Those of you who follow this blog regularly will know that a few months ago I became a teacher for Sketchbook Skool. I can’t tell you how exciting it is for me to go from student to teacher. The very least I can do is draw Danny on his birthday and wish him a very happy birthday!