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New Work

New Work

An update Covid-19 isolation brought new flow and I've been practising and working on new paintings and sketches incessantly for weeks now. I keep forgetting to update my blog and website, so I figured it was high time to show you some of my latest work, if you...

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Drawing Table Hack

Drawing Table Hack

Photos + Video

Slanted worktops save the day. And the Neck!

People who draw a lot know that the neck and the shoulders need to be spared. Working on a flat surface inevitably causes problems in the long run. And still all artists know the pain because many of us don’t sit behind slanted drawing surfaces enough.

Drawing Table Hack : 1 Reeves workstation + 1 Studio Designs Storage Tray in two halves = wonderful!

I was one of those. And since I work with watercolor a lot, I don’t always want a slanted work top. I don’t want any wet washes to run down into other wet washes. Not all the time at least. But the Storytelling course I’m in at the moment has put me into drawing mode. And whether it’s on paper or digitally, I really needed my work surface to climb up a little.

Not just a matter of perspective, but perspective matters

Also, working on a slanted worktop improves your view on your work. The perspective simply changes when you hold your work surface upright, or more upright than flat. If you’ve never noticed, it’s worth a try to draw one and the same thing once on a flat surface and then on a slanted work surface. You’re bound to see a difference!

Work with what you have! Until it doesn’t.

I like to work with what I have if I can. So, I took out my Reeves A2 workstation, which I always have at hand. It provided a slanted work top allright, but it had become a little rickety after about 12 years. And also…my pencils would keep rolling off…bounce on my desk…and then onto the floor. It would break so many leads. Super annoying. And costly too, considering last week two Luminance pencils fell onto the ground and broke their leads. Which was when I needed a solution INSTANTLY!

Metal Storage Tray, foam inset and mesh swivel cup + Reeves A2 drawing table

So, something new then?

An art store I order from regularly had beautiful drafting tables on sale. They were functional, kinda slick and had awesome options for storage on the sides. I immediately imagined all my problems solved. Only…I didn’t really have space for another table in my studio. And I didn’t want to get rid of my wooden reading table, nor of my piano or of the bird. Then I figured I could saw a piece out of my desk and shove the new drafting table right in there. It was an option. But then again…working with watercolor so often…my gut feeling said ‘no’.

Not old, not new…hack time!!!

When the gut feeling says ‘no’, other things start stirring. And I noticed that the storage trays I noticed on the sides of the drawing tables were also for sale without a table. They weren’t cheap. And way too big for my Reeves workstation. But if I could cut it in half and fit it to the sides of my drawing board…..?! I ordered one to see if it would work and then noticing the weight of the tray I realized it would be too heavy for the rickety workstation. So I took out the wooden stick that held it together and replaced it with a round steal 8mm beam And my husband screwed a small wooden beam on top of that to spread forces over left and right stand equally. It had made the table so strong we could sit on it!

Metal Tray storage on the side of the A2 Reeves workstation with the cut foam inset for copic markers and the mesh swivel cup. On the left small drawing chest with inks, cellphone holder and water.

The Cherry on the Cake

The next day the storage tray arrived. It looked amazing. Super sturdy, heavy and high quality. Great! Only, the cups in it didn’t swivel the way I had expected. Although that turned out to be no problem at all. And the metal saw went through it much more easily than expected and a little sanding paper took away any sharp edges. So within no time I had the perfect drawing board on my desk and my desk was still in one piece. Also…the tray comes with foam art supply holders. I felt they were too big for my liking. No problem. We sharpened the meat knife and that too went through it like butter.

Only one problem left to sort. Can I pick your brain a little?

The only thing I’m looking to fix now, is a little something to hold my ink and small water jar horizontal. Working on it! But if you have a good tip…it’s more than welcome!

Video time!

Absolutely wonderful new Watercolor Paint: Aquarius

Absolutely wonderful new Watercolor Paint: Aquarius

Watercolor face I did with the Aquarius paints, Queen of Hearts

The Discovery

A little while back I ran into the Jane Blundell’s blogpost about Aquarius watercolor paints by Roman Szmal. I had never heard of the brand before – which isn’t crazy, for more and more brands keep popping up in the watercolor hype – but I felt Jane’s enthusiasm and got enthusiastic. I contacted Roman Szmal and he sent me a beautiful set of paints.


What makes these paints stand out in the first place, is their price considering that real artist pigments are used. At the same time they are as affordable as student quality paints. So, the next logical question would be: are they any good?

Yes. These Aquarius watercolor paints are absolutely very good. And the collection is wonderfully big with lots and lots of beautiful pigments to choose from.


Upon receiving the paint one things stands out immediately: the wrapping. Every pan is wrapped in a piece of non-sticky paper. And that in its turn is covered with a wrap of watercolor paper on which an actual sample of the color has been painted. Seen together in a box that offers a tremendously luxurious feel. And when choosing colors, the real swatches are extremely helpful.

The set of Aquarius watercolor paints I got and tested.

Smashing colors

As you can see in the image above, this is a wonderful set of colors. Literally ALL of these are lovely as can be. And some colors in this set are typically colors I never use, but have begun using since I got this set. There are of course the wonderful Mineral Violet and Shadow Violet. These colors that hold contrasting pigments have done miracles for Daniel Smith too. But a more unlikely lovely color is the Caput Mortuum (2nd row from the bottom, 1st pan on the left) which has a pinkish/lilacish undertone and some heavy dark particling, which makes it an outstanding color to use in skin tones, shading and landscapes when you are looking for some unpredictable texture. And the sap green is the most beautiful one I’ve ever had. And the orange on the top right of this image is nothing short from gorgeous. And…oh well, I could go on like this for quite a bit because I love this paint. Just look at the video at the bottom of my page.

In comparison

I’ve been asked if these paints compare to Yarka / White Nights. To some extent, but these are brighter and more vibrant, in my experience. And especially over time some colors remain more vibrant and strong. Personally I would choose these over the White Nights anytime. They are heavily pigmented and allow immensely good for layering.

They are different from paints like Horadam in that the pigments are perhaps a little less finely ground. But in my experience that is an assett of this paint rather than a setback. It give this paint its own character and since the colors are lovely and vibrant, to me it’s just a big plus. Especially in work in which I paint a lot of texture. This is absolutely artist grade paint.

In the top photo you can see what this paint does on cold press watercolor paper and still creating texture. That’s pretty marvellous. But in the next photo you can see how a smoother image is also very well possible with this paint and looks smashing and vibrant in colors. And the layering in this one was just perfect!

Buglady painting with Aquarius watercolors and Kremer gold


The one point of attention with these paints is that when you get them, some colors can be very sticky. To me personally it’s not a problem, but some colors may need a little work to unwrap. Roman Szmal gave me the advice to rip the paper wrapping off very quickly. Then it should not stick as much. I recorded two videos of this paint. The second is a swatching video that I’ll post below in this article. But the first was a very long live video I did in which you can see me unwrap the paint.


First I’ll give you the shorter swatching video. And after the video you will find a list of addresses where you can order this paint.


The Aquarius watercolor paint pans by Roman Szmal are available at the following stores:

Kunstburg (NL)

Poland and online

Nordic region


Spain and worldwide

Directly from Roman Szmal’s facebook page

Wrapping it up? (we’ve just unwrapped it!)

This paint has been on my desk from the moment it arrived, so I’m looking for a better container to keep it in. Because the fact that it’s been at hand for so long is the best proof of how happy I am with this paint. I have not once felt the need to put it away and grab one of my other sets.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I’m curious to hear if you’ve got any experience with this brand of watercolor and if so, what experience that is. Perhaps you even have photos online of your work?


I think you all know by now, but to be sure I’ll mention that there’s no affiliate link between me and the manufacturer of this paint, nor with any of the online shops I’ve mentioned. I review these paints honestly and merely from my own fascination with and love for watercolor paints.

What’s on My Desk?

What’s on My Desk?

A second blog post in two days?! I must be on a roll again after such a long period of quietude…

For today’s post I let myself be inspired by my friend Marit Barentsen who takes part in “What’s on Your Workdesk“. I was a bit tired of working on an illustration assignment and browsed a bit until I felt lit up by Marit’s post. So I figured, why not? I love peeping into another creative mind’s happy place, so why not share mine?

I hope you like a goofy post like this. Personally I love seeing the creative stuff others work with and the projects they are working on. And the places they sit down and do the work, of course. How about you?

Storytelling with Comics

Storytelling with Comics

Comic(al) Attempts

You’ll probably know me from my online courses, my art or my visual journals. Those who’ve been following me for a longer time, may know that I actually also have a thing for drawing comics. A wish, mostly. And I have actually made some comic-style visual journaling attempts like these:


Comic I drew for “The Sketchbook Project” in 2012. When I went shopping one day I ran into a man who seemed very normal, on the surface. An grandfather with a stroller. Only, when I got closer, I noticed he was strolling around with a doll in his stroller. And when he saw me looking, he stopped to wave at me very happily and proudly…it was unsetting and moving at the same time.

Poor Sense of Humour, But Boy, Did We Laugh!

And when something hilarious happened one day, I drew this 4-panel comic, which – pardon my dreadful sense of humour – I still find incredibly funny:

OMG, yes this actually really happened…

Totti Colori

And at some time I discovered that comics weren’t always about linework and traditional panels. Influenced by that, I tried a more stylish and colorful one, which was inspired by the work of Lorzenzo Mattotti and which tells a super big story for who can read it:

BIG story in one spread, but highly symbolic, so I don’t think anyone but me will be able to read it. Need to work on that, I guess…

Embarrassment Gone Funny

Oh, and of course I tried combining illustration and comics in another funny one! Comics really seem to be THE perfect medium for embarrassing or funny events…

This one really happened too!

When The Goings Got Tough

But I also sought refuge in drawing comics in hard times, like when we moved house across the country. I drew the daily events in comic style, portraying my little family as migrating birds:



And on a more poetic note, I guess you could even say that my illustrated Tankas could be considered a form of single-panel comic:

Teaching Comics, Even…

And then there is of course also the storyboarding journaling course I teach, which is my personal favorite since it moves people so strongly towards the creation and elaboration of stories and helps them develop their visual language so well.

A Desire

In other words, even though I’ve never identified with being a comic artist, I’ve always felt drawn to making comics and have used them in my journals. And for some stories I actually considered making a series or a book, even. Only, I didn’t really know how to go about it. My efforts often felt a tad clumsy. And I felt ‘naked’ without my painterly watercolors and not yet at ease with a totally different and less painterly style.


What I love so much about (auto-)biographic comics and graphic novels is that they make nearly every topic more accessible and digestible. I saw a documentary about that once, in which this notion was confirmed. Somehow it’s easier to read confronting and emotional things in images than it is in words. That’s why many graphic novels are about war and topics like mental illness. Topics that would be overwhelming in other media are interesting to read about in comic form. I think that’s in part due to the fact that comics are often a rather sober representation of events. And in part I think it’s because in images a certain principle that could offend or overwhelm people may turn funny and accessible, like my friend Elly does in her comics (important: these MAY offend people because she doesn’t shun away from any topic).

A Project?

So, I’ve had a crush on comics for the greatest part of my life that I wasn’t really aware of until a few years back. Events in my life and family history demanded to be sorted into a story and shared. But it didn’t feel like art material and even though I tried to write a book about it, it didn’t feel completely right. But then I thought of a comic, or graphic novel, if you will, and that felt like “IT”. And working on the book had at least given me ample grit on the story to take shape in my mind already. But how to go about it? I hadn’t really drawn real comics before, not even multi-panel pages.

Digital Attempts

So I got back to scribbling events down in little comic-like sketches and storyboards. But I was fazed by the work involved. Somehow it seemed an even higher mountain to climb than writing a novel. This Spring, right before the renovation I got a new tablet and started a digital visual journal which I tried to keep during the renovation. I failed due to the chaos that grew too big to persevere in anything but conquering the daily chaos. But I really enjoyed creating these pages. They gave me an idea of how my journaling experience could go hand in hand with a new comic style to tell my story, so I’ve been wanting to continue ever since.

Part conventional, part digital visual journal page comic style.

And Then…A Course!

When I ran into a facebook post by Nelle Verhoeff about taking the Storytelling Flow course by Tom Hart – a graphic novel author – I was immediately grasped, so I entered. And what a way to spend my staycation! I love it!

Practice Will Make Better…I Hope

I’m still very much in the sketching phase, so nothing fancy, but I am practising the kind of storytelling I’d like to learn in a new way and I absolutely love it! It brings about an entirely new flow of creative energy and inspiration. Here’s what I’ve done thus far. My focus was “kicking the brain” and some stories around that:


Brain Fever

This is a topic I did an ink drawing about two years ago…one I also used to announce my Facebook time-out last fall:

“Impulse Overflow” – Ink on paper, 2015


This one I call “Pollution”. It starts with pollution and passes it on. A story development I would never have come up with without the guidance of another artist sharing some of HIS ways of coming up with ideas for his work.

I guess you might be seeing more comic-style work from me in my visual journals as of now. I’ve already begun working on some biographic panels to see if I could pull off a whole story…

Do you like working in your journal in comic-style as well?
Have you ever tried?

Before I bid you goodbye, I will leave you with a little list of really great autobiographic comics/graphic novels, should you feel inspired to read some:

A Comic Bookwurm

As a child I read a lot of comics. We had friends who had the whole series of Suske & Wiske. And one day a classmate of mine gave me truckloads of all kinds of series, which I read almost without takine a breth. But I abandoned them when I became a student. They didn’t return in my reading repertoire until I got super-excited about visual journaling and disovered the existence of autobiographic graphic novels. Some really great ones are:

  • 365 Days by Julie Doucet; a visual diary of one year
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (it’s even got it’s own Wikipedia page!); a coming-of-age memoir
  • Persepolis I & II by Marjana Satrapi; an impressive coming-of-age novel during the Islamic revolution in Iran
  • Burnout Dagboek by Maartje Hartjes; sorry, only in Dutch, but really, really good and worthwhile to learn Dutch for if you’re interested in the topic of burnout
  • Epileptic by David B., which is about growing up in the shadow of the epilepsy of his brother

Do you know any beautiful autobiographic comics/graphic novels that I should read?

ByeBye, Till Next Time!

Even though this post is not about my art or about my visual journal, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. It is about the impulse that inspires me right now and about the direction my river is flowing into at the moment. I’m super curious where it will lead me and my work. But I bet you’ll be seeing it come back in my journals…

Make Art & Help the Earth!

Make Art & Help the Earth!

Dear reader,

Finally!!! I am super-excited to share some amazing news:

Do you want to make art and help the earth at the same time?

Art for Earth Tamara Laporte Willowing Mandy van Goeije Treesisters

If so, I have some wonderful news! As you know I’ve been working on a book the past year. It’s not finished yet, by far, but I’ve got a wonderful project to present that lies very close to one of its major themes. As you know I’m crazy about nature and very concerned with the current climate change and environmental issues that we face now. Well, turns out my friend Tam from Willowing Arts has worried about climate change for a while now too, and she wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the ‘fight against climate change’.

This is how the Art for Earth Project was born!

Tam collected over 45 amazing mixed media artists who have all contributed one or more art resources (like an art course, e-book, printable PDF or other item) to the Art for Earth Package! It contains over 75+ amazing art resourcesincluding some brand spanking new courses!

“I wish, I wish…” Watercolor & Mixed Media workshop + BONUS “From wishes to needs”

"I wish, I wish..." online watercolor and mixed media course by Mandy van Goeije

In fact, I created a whole brand spanking new course for this package deal: “I wish, I wish…” Watercolor & Mixed Media workshop. And I added a bonus lesson to it: “From Wishes to Needs”. Both lessons build up on a personal story that very much touches upon the nature and sustainability themes. “I wish, I wish…” is the base class in which you enter the first level of your story and do the basic mixed media project using watercolor. “From wishes to needs” takes you deeper into your story and the relationship between your story and the world around you. And at the same time it dives a little deeper into the combination of watercolor and mixed media.

“The Little Big World” Exclusive Pre-launch!!!

The Little Big World promophoto
Quite a bit of “my story” found its way into this e-book…it’s part of the project that is launched next week.

But I wanted to do something more with the theme. Climate change and environmental problems can be pretty heavy topics and I’ve noticed that for that reason some people turn away from it. So I decided to write an interactive e-book that can make both topics lighter by approaching them in a close-to-home, creative, inspiring and hopefully contagious way! So, in the Art for Earth Art bundle you will also get The Little Big World challenge e-book. It’s heavily based on the nature journal that I kept last year, but having progressed for a year, I included other super nice and inspiring mini-projects as well.

45 Artists joined hands for Art for Earth!

But Art for Earth is not just about my work. There are 44 more artists taking part in this wonderful art bundle. Scroll down or click here to see a complete list of all the products in this package!

The Art for Earth Package  has a value of over £2900+ GBP, but will be sold for only £75 GBP! It will be on sale for 7 days only and get this; 25% of all saleswill go to an amazing organization that helps improve our climate. They are called Tree Sisters and they are a group of women spread out all over the world with a mission to plant trees and a focus on tropical reforestation.

They say:

“Vision & Mission of Tree Sisters:

TreeSisters exists to elicit collective responsibility for planetary restoration at the grass roots level with a focus on women and tropical reforestation.We are growing a global network of women who donate monthly to fund the acceleration of tropical reforestation as an expression of collective planetary care.

We channel 80% of member donations to exemplary existing reforestation organisations in the tropics with whom we partner to restore ecosystems. The remaining 20% funds our behaviour change and consciousness shift work with women to reinstate feminine leadership, and normalise collective ownership of planetary restoration.”

The Art for Earth package contains some fabulous art resources by some of the most popular mixed media teachers in our community (scroll all the way down to download the PDF file with info)! I hope you’ll buy this wonderful package of awesome art goodies and help the earth while making art!

Make Art for Earth!

Thank you so much!


PS. This is the list of all the products that are included in the Art for Earth Package!
So much goodness!

Super-exciting news!!! New online course + project coming up next week!

Super-exciting news!!! New online course + project coming up next week!

I can’t believe that six weeks have passed since I last wrote on my blog! A lot has happened in the mean time and I have even more to tell you.

Coming Soon "I wish, I wish..." online watercolor and mixed media workshop + Art for Earth fundraiser project for treesisters

New online course, e-book AND project launch!

This coming 3 April an Art Bundle is launched that I’ve created a totally new online course and wrote a challenging e-book for! It’s a fundraiser for Treesisters and I can’t wait to share it with you because this is a project I poured my heart into. I can’t tell you the ins and outs just yet, but I can unveil a tiny bit by saying that this bundle will contain one brandspanking new online watercolor and mixed media workshop by my hand + an challenging e-book for a project that comes straight from the heart. It’s got everything to do with Art, Experiencing Meaning in Life and Nature and our connection to it. The online workshop is also for sale separately for those not interested in an art bundle.

Books come in all shapes and sizes

So…you may remember I was writing a book. When Tamara Laporte invited me to join this project, I put the book on hold to write the online course and e-book. Doing so, I realized that in writing this new material, I was also writing “my book”, only in a different form. It was another way of telling my story. And a really fun way of doing it and for others to take in, I think. I enjoyed the process of creating a new online course so much. Perhaps online teaching is altogether another way of ‘writing my book’. And maybe people would prefer that to a textbook. After all, it brings across the message in a visual, inspiring, interactive and challenging way. What do you think? Would you rather read a book or find a message in courses?

The Little Big World promophoto
Quite a bit of “my story” found its way into this e-book…it’s part of the project that is launched next week.

I could do with a little help…

There’s one thing I find dramatically challenging about online teaching, thouh. I mean the M-word: “marketing”. If you are subscribed to my newsletter, you will know that I took some M-classes and got put off enormously by “the sales funnel”. I don’t want to force anything down anybody’s throat. I want to inspire and help people develop their artistic skills and, if I can, help them in their personal growth if they’re looking for that. But in the current “market” (another M-word) it’s hugely important to let the world know what you have to offer or else valuable things get overlooked. So, even though it’s outside my comfort zone, I will have to do some marketing. But I was wondering if perhaps you could help me spread the news next week? It would really help if you could share a blogpost or a facebook post, for example. And in the mean time I’m putting my teeth into learning to execute the M-word and shine bright like a star, but a little help on the side would be quite the encouragement 🙂

New Work and Art for Sale

Treeman Green - watercolor painting by Mandy van Goeije
Treeman Green

In the past months I’ve created some new work. These two are watercolor treemen. They were very much inspired by my nature journal. One of the things I love most about nature journaling is the study of textures. These trees are both full of texture. It takes a huge amount of time to paint such minute details, but I can’t help it…I love doing it. For the treeman below I studied bark of a cork-like tree bark I once found in France. And the rock texture is based on some textures of rocks here on the beach. I love when I manage to pull off the feel of it in watercolor…

Treeman Walkabout- watercolor painting by Mandy van Goeije
Treeman Walkabout

I seldom sell originals, but I’ve got so many paintings now that I must start selling my work or else there’s no room for any new ones. So to start with three, I’ve also listed the original watercolor “Michaela” for sale. Should you be interested, I’ve added a link to each salespage in the images, so if you click on them, they will take you to the shop.

Michaela, watercolor painting by Mandy van Goeije

And can I pick your brain a little more? I’ve so many paintings lying about at the moment. What kind of art would you like to buy? What style do you like? And if it were an option, would you buy an original or a print? I was trying to guess, but maybe it’s better to your brain…

Online courses back in my shop

When you’re in my Etsy store, you will see my other online courses for sale again and you can already see my new online course listed. It’s ready to go, but on 3 April an Art Bundle will be launched that it’s part of. So if you feel like doing a lot of online classes and want to check that out, then please hold your breath for a few more days 🙂 On 3 April I will publish a link that takes you right to it! If you want to be the first to know about this wonderful project, then please sign up for my Newsletter if you haven’t already done so. I will make sure it reaches you the moment the clock strikes 3 April ♥

Morning Collage

Morning Collage

Kickstarting the day

I am currently refurbishing my website and to be honest, it’s quite a boring job and I long to paint. But since both websites and painting are time-consuming activities, the painting will have to wait a bit. A few days I crept behind the computer early in the morning and soon ended up in search of matches or other sticks to keep my eyelids from falling shut. So I needed a little something to wake the whole of me up before I did some work that actually feels like work. And lo and behold, I chose collage.

Here’s two collage pages I did yesterday and this morning:

A New Life - Collage by Mandy van Goeije
“A New Life”

Collage Journal

These collages were done in the grey-black book I bound almost two years ago for the purpose of practising collage. It’s odd how sometimes books lie wanting and abandoned on a shelf for a long time. I mean, I did a few collages in it, but then I forgot about it somewhere along the line. Now that I’ve picked up this book again, doing these quick postcard-sized collages, it’s so much fun. It really helps wake up my system to do some more tedious work. Speaking of which, I have procrastinated enough by writing this blogpost, I think. I’d better head to the backend of my website, do some more brushing up and get the job done. 🙂

Handbound collage journals by Mandy van Goeije
Two collage practise book

Collage Inspiration

If you feel triggered to dive into collage as well, you can find some inspiration perhaps, in the work of: