Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sarah Van Der Linden -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today's sketchbook conversation is with Sarah Van Der Linden.

Here's Sarah's story:

I'm Sarah, I'm a photographer, painter and lover of nature.

I rediscovered my creative soul when I moved in the countryside of France with my partner two years ago. I found that I'm most myself and happier when I'm in a forest or in the middle of nowhere. I love the color green and playing with watercolor, and I'm constantly learning new skills and things. Creativity is a long road leading to a better observation and understanding of the world.


Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I own a lot of sketchbooks, of various shapes, sizes and paper. Some are for writing, others for painting. I think it's because I feel I need to have one sketchbook for every purpose, and that everything need to be organized, and well, it's because I always enjoy buying a new one!

My most useful, the one I use every single day is a A6 notebook with a rigid cover. I always carry it in my bag with some pens in case I need to draw or note something down. It's like my confidant and my angel, and a reminder of my life. It's the only one I use to write in it. There are thoughts, quotes, ideas, some museum tickets, some leaves, and a lot of doodles and drawings. I brought it to the Natural History Museum to observe and on my couch to write down a grateful list. All the little things I enjoy are in this sketchbook, and I made a lot of paintings from ideas scribbled on it. As the paper is not of a good quality, I can only use a pencil or a ballpoint pen, which are not my favorite tools. Nevertheless, they force me to be efficient and not spend too much time on a sketch.


Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I use another A6 one, made of thick paper, for hand-lettering. I started practicing a year ago and now I'm an addict. I love to carry it with me when I'm outside, when I hike or travel. I enjoy to rest in the middle of nature and contemplate the world around me for awhile. I just hand-letter what comes to my mind at this exact moment. I use it to draw what I find or discover that day.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

That's why most of my photos are taken outside, in the natural world. It's a form of freedom to always have something with me for lettering, writing or drawing. I don't have to wait for trying out an idea, I can just sit in the woods, listen to the birds, feel fresh air on my face, and draw. Something always happens when things are easy and simple. I don't need a lot, just a pen and a sketchbook.


Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

All my other sketchbooks are made with watercolor paper. I have a square one which is my botanical sketchbook (that I started thanks to you Anne and your Skillshare class!). It's filled with flowers and leaves. It really allows me to observe every tiny detail of a plant and to learn from it. Nature is a great creator and just by slowing down and opening our eyes, we can learn a lot and get ideas about pattern, color mixing, shapes, lines and textures. And the best part is that everything, all this world, is around us, within easy reach. Beginning this specific sketchbook was maybe one of the things that allows me to learn and to progress so much.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

The last one I started (I know, another one!) is about testing an idea and practice a subject. So, there is a page full of trees, one full of ivy leaves, one with weird houses… I keep filling the page until I'm happy with the result. I can use new techniques or medium: ink pen, watercolor, masking fluid… I like to remember and keep track of tries and failures, to observe what works, what goes wrong and to evolve from that point. That's the reason why I don't use loose sheets of paper, because I do not want to misplace or scatter them.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

A sketchbook is like a secret garden, a hidden place, it's very personal. When I started my first one, I was afraid because I only wanted it to be filled with beautiful paintings. I was scared of making mistakes and miss it. Until I realized that's the all point of it. The point is to try, sometimes you fail and you hate what you created, sometimes you like it, but at least, in both cases, you learn something. A sketchbook does not have to be perfect or pretty and it doesn't have to be shared. It's a safe space of freedom for playing and experimenting, to let an idea bloom. Each sketchbook is different, but it shows the evolution of an artist and all the things that crossed his mind.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I think that it's very useful to keep track of an idea and to gather inspiration for future creations. A sketchbook has to be light, fun and experimental. It can be a powerful tool for learning and observing. The best advice I can offer is to just start without constraint or pressure, and see what emerge. The first step is alway the hardest, then the fun part begins!


Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your story with us today.

Dear readers, you can connect with Sarah on Instagram here: @mirglis




Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews


*Photos in this post © Sarah Van Der Linden. Used with permission.

3 comments:

  1. I got Sarah's name in the Handmade Joy Exchange and have loved following all her beautiful photos over on Instagram. Her work is just so pretty and inspiring. xo

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  2. Sarah's sketchbooks are works of art in themselves! :)

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