Gwen Glotin lives in Amsterdam in the Netherlands (pictured on a sketchcrawl while giving a healing foot injury a break from shoes).
For a long time, I was looking for something that would help me relax, destress and empty my head. Around that time, I came across Zentangle through a friend, and that’s how I initially started drawing. Then I met an artist at my children’s school who gave drawing and painting lessons in her home. That was the second step for me: learning the basics. And then later in 2013, I got the book *The Art of Urban Sketching* by Gabriel Campanario and it was so impressive!
This book activated something in me and had me googling things like sketchcrawls looking for opportunities in Amsterdam. I then came across the website of someone name Koosje Koene. She could draw beautifully and she offered different online classes.
And that was it! I registered, the class started, and from that moment, I was hooked. I started drawing like a maniac every day, and I couldn’t stop. And then, just a few months later in April, Sketchbook Skool started, and the addiction and inspiration reached another level!
I learned a LOT in all of the kourses I took, but I have a special fondness for *Beginning*, because it was my first and because everything was new and incredible. Discovering that I could draw without a pencil, but just straight with ink, was a game-changer for me.
Discovering that I could go outside and draw (very, very timidly) what I saw was also a pivotal moment. I started meeting up with other Dutch Sketchbook Skool students and sharing tips about sketchbooks, inks, pens, and the excitement of doing our homework.
I also loved meeting people from other countries online. I went to the zoo to sketch animals, encouraged by Roz Stendahl’s many many tips. I looked at my kitchen with Tommy Kane`s eyes, drawing, drawing, and drawing again. It was all quite insane actually. I couldn’t stop!
When I started, I didn’t know many people in Amsterdam. The few expats I knew had moved and working freelance from home and being an introvert were not the best conditions for meeting people. Plus, I was in mourning. I was tired and unwell and it was getting worse and I kept calling it “stress” and denied it was something more serious. Discovering that drawing made me feel better was a big breakthrough. It was magical to have a place – my sketchbook – where I could relax, empty and clear my head and stop thinking, which was very much needed. And drawing also allowed me to meet so many new people, online and in real life. While I thought of myself as antisocial and very shy, I discovered that when I was surrounded by other people with pens and sketchbooks, and events were actually drawing events, I loved every minute of it. I found my tribe.
The first thing that comes to my mind is to be kind to yourself. Maybe that seems unrelated to drawing, but it’s not. We’re so hard on ourselves all the time, and it comes out when we judge our drawings. Lately, I’ve become more aware that I want to be more accepting of myself, and I can practice this mantra in my sketchbook. I also learned that it’s okay to be full of doubt or fear from time to time and that in many cases, drawing will take care of it!
Gwen has come a long way since filling her first sketchbook with Zentangles and kitchen drawings from SBS homework assignments. She’s been chosen as an official reporter for the upcoming Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam and we’re so excited to see her stretch in this amazing role, documenting the Symposium and catching all the action via reportage sketching!*