The stories are all there, just waiting to be told – by you or me or whoever.
Katherine Dunn

Creative Illustration workshop for mixed media artists book cover In her book, called Creative Illustration workshop for mixed-media Artists (seeing, sketching, storytelling and using found materials), artist Katherine Dunn talks about drawing what you love, something we need to be reminded of in the age of Pin-it-all.

Katherine herself lives in a farm in Oregon and is surrounded daily by her favorite subjects: nature, the donkeys and her other farm animals. To me it’s a bit difficult to relate to what she draws, and to find my way into what I should be drawing, but maybe I’ll get there.

What I love most about this book is her quirky drawing style, both humorous and mellow at the same time. I also love how Katherine shows her process from the first jotted note, to sketch to finished drawing/illustration. Because her paintings are illustrations of her thoughts and the questions she is thinking about. Maybe all paintings are (or should be) storytelling in a way?

Her sketches are rough and often made with charcoal, pencil or crayons, or just a written note to remember an idea by. There is a bit of collage, some writing prompts, lots of exercises to try and even ideas on how to use to scanner and layer a drawing using a computer. Yes, lots of yumminess.

Exercise in the Creative Illustration workshop book

Her first sketches of an idea might be just a few words and lines that percolate until it’s time to draw. And she explains it very poetically:

“I like to call the initial phase of drawing the flow stage, as the idea starts like a little twig at the top of a stream and flows along collecting debris, and losing a bit of itself here and there until somewhere it comes to rest.”

Owl spread from Creative Illustration workshop book

Personally I bought this book mostly because of a fascination with the way artist Katherine Dunn style of drawing. I’m a fan after reading the book, though I didn’t really get why I was so drawn to it at first. At a quick glance all of the pages are of naive, sketchy not-very-finished drawings. But with a closer look I see deeper than the surface… After browsing through a few pages I have the aha-moment! I get why I needed this book so much: I need to loosen up! I admire perfect lines way too much for my own good, and I have tried to imitate a steady hand for years! Instead I should be doing what I personally love and know much better, which is a kind of grungier, sketchier look. I’m now going to switch from black markers to pencil (and bring out my beloved charcoal pencils) and see what happens… I am sure that future art journal pages will have a wilder feel, and maybe even a painting on canvas will be born this year. We’ll see.

Spread from Creative Illustration workshop

The book itself i spiral bound with a hard cover to hide the spiral. It’s big, and lush and extremely yummy. It’s a keeper!

Watch the promo-video (posted below) and see if you agree.

Simply lovely, right?

What inspires your drawings?

Side note: Book promo videos are very cool in general if you ask me. I made my own promo video back in 2007 for my own book and it still makes me remember the day the first copy arrived… Good times.

Further exploring to do:

* Creative Illustration workshop for mixed media artists – more information about the book on amazon
* Apifera Farm Blog – the authors own blog
* Original paintings – gallery of Katherine Dunn’s artwork
* Previous Book Reviews – all of iHanna’s book recommendations on one page!