I think it is fair to say that Jennie Maizels’ Sketchbook Club has quickly become a bit of a phenomenon with so many of my Instagram and Twitter chums joining in! So when Jennie got in touch asking if I would like to trial her new online Sketchbook Club for myself I can’t lie, I jumped at the chance! I have never ever done anything like this before but I think that is actually one of the reasons why it appealed to me so much. Suddenly, the thought of an empty sketchbook was an exciting one, not a daunting one.
You can buy the whole Sketchbook Club course for just £20 which includes four modules covering houses, fish, washing lines and bugs. Or you can buy each separate module for just £7 each if you prefer. Each module comes with full detailed instructions and printable reference sheets as well as a film giving you hints and tips. Jennie also holds live Q&A sessions each week should you need to ask any questions but best of all is the amazing online community that has been created.
There are various hashtags for each of the modules so everyone can not only share their creations but also offer each other support. I have honestly been blown away with the support that I have had, especially on Instagram. It feels really very special to be part of something that has inspired so many people. Seeing everybody else’s take on each module can give you inspiration and ideas for your own sketches of course but I also find it utterly fascinating to see just how different all of our sketches are. How we are all following the same brief yet creating something completely unique to ourselves.
Jennie Maizels as you might already know is an incredible illustrator. Obviously this course is illustrator led, it isn’t a lesson in fine art. If you watch her introduction video it will give you a better idea but basically this course aims to take away the fear of a blank page. Each module is fully prescriptive and much like a recipe, Jennie gives you the method, ingredients and a picture of what you are aiming for. She is effectively giving you all the tools you need to create an amazing sketchbook and then it is up to you if you follow the instructions either to the letter or just use it as a brief and go a little off piste. For me though, as somebody who has not taken pencil to paper since I was at school, this prescriptive method couldn’t be more perfect. I feel like I really am learning new skills and Jennie’s guidance is giving me a confidence that I never knew I had.
The first module was houses and I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed it. First of all I used a pencil to sketch my houses. I used Jennie’s reference sheets as a guide but drew them freehand and just went for it. (If you prefer though, you can use the reference pictures as a template and literally imprint them on to your page.) Then I went over my pencil in ink adding more detail. I must admit that this was where I was a little scared of ‘spoiling’ my picture but it was short lived and I soon couldn’t stop fiddling, adding more and more details to my little windows and doors. Using acrylic paints I then created my sky and added the little chimney smoke and clouds which were cut out of an old latin book of Mr Mostly’s (with his permission I must add! Ha!)
My sketch is far from perfect but actually one thing that this course has taught me is that sketchbooks are an informal way of working and everything you do just adds to its charm and beauty. There are things that I would do differently if I did it over again but and it’s a very big BUT.. I enjoyed every minute of it. And that for me is what really counts. It is the loveliest way to spend an afternoon, I had no idea that it could be so relaxing. And honestly? I can’t believe that I am capable of creating something like this! I am so proud of my little self for how it has turned out! I love the mix of mediums here – drawing, paint and collage. I think it looks so effective. And of course the best thing is that now that Jennie has given me the necessary tools and know-how, I can create more houses. Pages and pages of houses. A whole sketchbook of houses if I wish! Although for now I plan to work my way through each of the four modules of course. I’ve nearly finished my fish sketch I just have a few tweaks that I want to make then I will move on the the washing line and bugs. Exciting stuff!
At the beginning of each module, it tells you exactly what materials you need. Obviously, never having done anything like this before I didn’t even own a decent pencil! Everything that you need for the course is available to buy from Jennie’s shop or you can just use this as a guide to source things elsewhere if you prefer. I did buy everything directly from Jennie’s shop though and would recommend it for the prettiness of her packages alone! It was much easier for me to do it this way to be honest and I’ve been seriously impressed by the obvious quality of her recommended products. Jennie makes it all so easy, she really has created something very special.
I can’t tell you just how much I am loving Sketchbook Club I can’t recommend it enough. I wanted to do this originally as a project for me to enjoy once the children were all back at school. But actually, I think it would be a great thing to do with the children too. I will definitely revisit all of the modules with mine once I have finished the whole course, it will be a lovely thing to do together. That’s another good thing though, it really is suited to everyone from children to adults whatever your ability. At the end of the course, I hope to share all of my completed sketches with you here on my blog but I just couldn’t wait until then to tell you about this wonderful Sketchbook Club! Plus so many people have been asking me about it as I have been sharing updates across social media that I wanted to tell you all more about it!
You can find out more about Jennie Maizels’ Sketchbook Club here but before I go I must say a huge thank you to Jennie for asking me to take part in this trial thank you thank you THANK YOU!