Friday, 17 April 2020

An artful year in review



I know, it's April, but I just felt like doing a review of 2019. It has probably to do with the strange and difficult time we are in, with the Corona crisis. It makes me reflective I guess.

In 2019 I learned so much... I joined the My Year of Art School at Make Art That Sells (an online art school by art agent Lilla Rogers). A full year of yummy assignments and great course content. Classes on children's books, home decor, editorial work, and what not. It's not so much a "how to draw and paint" kind of art school. You'll have to learn these techniques elsewhere. But what Lilla and her team are really good at is showing why work is selling or not. What art directors are looking for. And the ins and outs of all kinds of illustration markets.

Here's some work I created for some of these classes. A warning up front... this post is image heavy :)


Children's books class...






home decor class...




drawing faces class...




and editorial (part of bootcamp class)...






I soon found out that I was missing a good foundation in drawing and painting technique. Things like how to build the structure of an object, how to achieve chararacter consistency, compelling compositions and concepts, perspective, tones, line quality, and so on.

So besides the classes at Make Art That Sells I looked online for tutorials. And that's where I found the classes of Nina Rycroft, a children's book illustrator. Here are some faces I drew for her face shape class on Skillshare...




During the year, I figured out a way of working, a process of creating. With the help of Youtube and through trial and error I learned a lot about digital illustration in Photoshop. But I love working with traditional media like coloured pencils, inks, crayons and watercolours. So I figured out my own approach and during the year my own "unique" illustration style appeared. (It's never completely unique, we are always heavily influenced by other illustrators.)

My style is a mixture of traditional and digital work, full of all kinds of texture. Textures that I create with traditional paints, inks, etc. These I scan and then I add them to (parts of) an illustration.




Here is some personal work I did (outside of the classes)...









I like to experiment with all kinds of media. Some more successful than others. For home decor plus class at MATS for example, I tried to work mostly with acrylic paints. I was not overly satisfied with the results, probably because it had such a different feel compared to my other work. And some assignments just didn't work out for me. Here is one that I do like though...




Besides illustrating I was also asked for two awesome projects. One was a video interview by Nina Rycroft for her Project Portfolio, an online event for children's book illustrators and writers. And the other one was a guest post for Gumclub, a Dutch website on illustrating. I felt really honoured to be asked for these, as I had only just started my journey through the world of illustration.

So, what will 2020 bring? My focus this year is building a strong foundation in drawing and painting techniques, with a focus on the children's market. I'm following the curriculum at SVS Learn this year, an online art school specialized in children's book illustrations. Because what became really clear to me last year, is that my heart belongs to the children's market. Naturally, I gravitate towards creating images for children. Which was no surprise to anyone who knows me well. But sometimes you just have to try different things to know for sure.

For now, stay safe, stay at home as much as possible, and take care.

xoxo Wen


Footy note: I do intend to write more posts for the series on finding your own art voice. But it may take a while. I hope you don't mind...



Friday, 22 March 2019

Finding your own art voice and style - Part 1: Who are you?






What do you usually draw and paint? Florals? Bears? Foxes? Birds? Of course it’s great to know how to draw and paint these more common themes and topics. There will always be a demand for these. But everyone has them in their portfolio. So to make your portfolio stand out more and be more YOU, it’s good to go more in depth in topics that interest you. (And I know I need to do more of this as well. It takes more time than paint another bird or floral, but it’s high on my to-do list!)

How do you find your own art style? It's is a question I hear often. There are so many people asking this! And I do think it’s a valid question, but I found out that the more I focus on finding my own style, the less of a chance I have to actually find it. The question becomes an anxious one and it will actually block my creative muse.

So, how do you find your style without worrying about it? That was what I wanted to know. And I did find answers that really helped me. The very one answer that helped me most, is to create from within yourself. I have 5 tips for you that I will share in five separate blog posts. Today is tip number one: Zoom in on who you are.





Tip 1: Who are you?

What makes you YOU? To be able to create from within yourself, you need to really tune in on your own heart, mind, and life. You have to find yourself first if you want to find your own art voice and style.

Ask yourself some questions:
  • What do I love to do in my spare time?
  • Which topics interest me?
  • What would I like to know more of?
  • What is meaningful to me? What adds value to my life?
  • Are there specific causes that I support?
  • How does my typical day to day life look like?
  • What is so typically me?
  • What are my quirks? (Own these as well, they make you unique!)
  • What did I love to do when I was a child?
  • What are the places I like to visit?
  • Are there any types of landscapes or cityscapes that I prefer?
  • Do I like to go on city trips? Or rather go on hikes in nature? Or may be stay at home?
  • Favourite countries to travel?


  • What's on my bucket list?
  • What are my favourite foods and drinks?
  • Do I like to go to restaurants and/or pubs?
  • Or do I love inviting friends and/or family at home? Or go on a picknick together?
  • Do I like to cook? Or do I hate it and make a mess?
  • What books do I like to read? Or do I like reading at all?
  • What are my favourite animals?


  • Do I have pets? If not, would I like to have pets?
  • If I do have a pet, what is so typical about this animal?
  • Are there any other animals that fascinate me? Or may be that scare me?
  • What sports do I like to play?
  • What is my favourite music?
  • Do I like to play music myself as well?
  • Or may be I prefer silence or the sounds of nature?
  • Who are the people I (love to) spend my time with?
  • What are my favourite movies? Do I like going to the movies?
  • Do I have a specific fashion style that I like? Or may be fashion doesn't interest me at all?

I'm sure you can think of other questions to ask yourself too!


More tips

To stay posted about tips number 2 to 5, make sure to subscribe to my blog. You can use the Bloglovin widget on the sidebar.


Hope to see you next time!

xo Wen




Hello and welcome!




Welcome, you! Nice to meet you! My name is Wen, I'm an illustrator from The Netherlands. On this blog I will occassionally share tips and things I learned about living a creative life. And who knows, may be there is some interesting news in the future that I'd like to share here with you as well.

Wishing you a happy day!


xo Wen


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