Sketchbook Tour - Spring 2018

Hi there. How are you? 

As spring is quickly turning to summer in Southern Illinois, I thought it was a good time to look back and share my sketchbook with you. It's fun to see the work that I've created in my trusty Moleskine over the past 4 months.

These drawings account for hours and HOURS of work. I work for days, even weeks on one page. It's hard to estimate the exact number of hours I put into a drawing, as they're done over many days. Let's say I average at least 8 hours per drawing.

* The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. If you click and purchase I will get a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

So, without any further adieu, here's my sketchbook.

 Ballpoint drawings by Jennifer Johansson made with a Yoobi 8-in-one pen. 

Yoobi Experiments

I got to experiment with my new Yoobi pen this spring. I will definitely be taking this 8-in-one pen with me to Europe this summer. On top of being ultra portable, the ink is really nice and smooth. 

 Ballpoint experiments by Jennifer Johansson for a custom wedding invitation. 

Wedding Work

I've been working on invitations for my brother's upcoming wedding. These were both experiments for the actual invitation, which has a desert/succulent theme.  It was fun to work in one of my most favorite of color schemes. 

And before you ask, the burgundy pen is a Pentel RVSP. I've only been able to find these on Amazon. I suspect that they might not be manufactured any longer as they're about $5.50 a pop! But that color is pretty darn great, so I gave in and bought. 

 I experimented with the Perfecto pens that a patron sent to me from the Netherlands. 

Going Neon with Perfecto Pens

I also experimented with my Perfecto ballpoint set that a generous patron sent me from the Netherlands. (Thank you Natasja!)  The colors are so vibrant, especially the orange! These photos just don't do it justice.

*I would link to these Perfecto pens if I could find them anywhere on the internet, but alas, they are nowhere to be found. 

 These patriotic ballpoint drawings are destined to become backgrounds for voter postcards.

Destined to be Postcards

I got a little patriotic with these two. Both were drawn to be backgrounds for voter postcards. You can see how I used the bottom drawing here. 

 My most recent ballpoint sketches.

My Most Recent Work

These are my most recent sketches. The blue one has become the background for my new Kentucky state print. 

 Ballpoint drawings by Jennifer Johansson. 

The Oddballs

I started the black drawing on top when I was particularly frustrated. I don't even remember why I was frustrated, I just know I needed to start drawing without any thought behind it. It's a weirdo, but I like it. 

I set out early in the year to make some large drawings outside of my sketchbook to submit to some museum shows. I made this one above, but I'm not so sure how I feel about it. 

This concludes our Spring 2018 Sketchbook Tour.

I hope you enjoyed it. I'm about to leave for a week on the beach, which usually means lots of time for sketch booking. Stay tuned! 

Before you leave.......Wanna keep in touch? 

Join my email list and you'll have access to a hyper lapse video of my drawing process. 

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

Hi there. How are you? 

The creative life can be hard to navigate. Sometimes you need a little guidance or a little encouragement to keep you going. In the past few years, I've noticed a deluge of books on the subject. Working at the public library, I've had a chance to read many books about the creative life, and I thought I'd share my favorites with you. 

 Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

These titles have all provided me with practical guidance on my own creative journey. (Note the word PRACTICAL.) None of these books offer pie in the sky, get famous fast solutions. Instead, think of them as creative pep-talks, each with actionable steps you can take to live your best creative life. They're NOT just for visual artists, but for anyone who has a creative pursuit.

1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Written by the author of the smash hit "Eat, Pray, Love," this is my absolute favorite book on the list. Though Gilbert discusses her own creative process as a writer, the sage wisdom she doles out is applicable to anyone with a creative pursuit. She encourages creatives to NOT quit their day jobs. When your creative pursuit becomes a job, you've got more pressure to produce and it often takes some of the joy out of it. She also puts to rest the myth of the suffering artist. Making good art doesn't have to be torture!

2. Steal LIke an Artist by Austin Kleon

This is a very quick read filled with practical advice in a graphic style. Kleon purports that "Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination."

 One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

3. your inner Critic is A Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

After reading Danielle's blog "The Jealous Curator"  for years and religiously listening to her podcast "Art for Your Ear", I was quick to purchase this book. In her humorous, light-hearted way, Danielle lays out her 10 truths about what it means to be a creative person.  Cheeky illustrations by Martha Rich throughout the book bring even more levity to the discussion. Using anecdotes from successful artists and from her own life, Danielle discusses creative roadblocks, like "Imposter Syndrome," when you feel like a fraud, insecure about your art and creation process. (Boy, can I relate?) She also offers simple, practical exercises to help you get over those roadblocks and get down to the business of making good work. 

 One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

4. show your work by Austin Kleon

In this follow up to Steal Like an Artist, Kleon explains how to "Share Like an Artist."  In his signature style, combining handwritten pages, illustration, and text, he lays out 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered.  This is another quick read with actionable advice to help you get your work out there. 

5. Growing Gills by Jessica Abel

More than any of the other books on the list, Growing Gills provides a step-by-step process to help you find your creative focus.  Complete with a downloadable workbook, this book is like your own private workshop, helping you build focus to finish your creative work. 

I've read and re-read these books. 

They're all that good! I tend to grab them off my shelf when I'm in an artistic slump or feeling like a fraud again. These little creative pep talks sure do help. 

* As an Amazon Influencer, I earn a small commission when you purchase the books I've listed through these links. It's a small way for you to support the work I do. (Thank you!)

Anything I should add to the list?

Do tell! Leave a comment and let me know. I'm always looking for inspirational reading.

Ciao! Jen

A Few of My Favorite Things

Hi there. How are you? 

I was recently invited to become an Amazon Influencer.  As an influencer, I have my own page on where I can recommend my favorite products and earn money on qualifying purchases made through the page.  I don't expect to make millions, but it is nice to have a place to share all my faves while making a little pocket change. 

As I'm often asked about the supplies I use to make my ballpoint drawings,  I thought I'd start by curating a list of favorite drawing supplies, all of which can be found on Amazon. 

 These are my go-to supplies for ballpoint drawing. Click through for the details and more of my faves. 

These are my go-to supplies for ballpoint drawing. Click through for the details and more of my faves. 


If you're just going to buy just one set of pens, go for these! They're inexpensive, smooth and have great color.


(RT stands for retractible.) I like the Pentel retractibles better than the capped Pentels as the ink tends to flow better in the retractibles. Overall, Pentel pens have a finer ballpoint, which can make it more difficult to achieve smooth values, but are good for making sharp edges. 


Papermate Profiles come in a huge range of colors, but are more difficult to find and are more expensive than the Bics. The ink doesn't flow quite as well as the Bics, but they're my runner ups. 


There are many different brands of Bristol board out there and there are also different finishes available. Look for smooth Bristol board when purchasing. Don't want to spring for Bristol board? Any smooth paper will work (including copy paper!)


Moleskine sketchbooks have been my go-to for years. Right now I'm partial to the 5" x 8.25" size. The paper is thick but smooth and the pages lay flat. The only downfall with Moleskines is that the paper has a slight yellow hue to it.  Add a Moleskine tool belt to it and you've got a fabulously portable drawing kit.

All of these are supplies I actually like and use. 

I only add items to my Amazon Influencer list that I can vouch for! 

 I've finally found a yellow ballpoint pen! Meet the 8 color Yoobi. Click through to purchase. 

I've finally found a yellow ballpoint pen! Meet the 8 color Yoobi. Click through to purchase. 

And my newest fave.....

I've been on a hunt for yellow ballpoints for over a year now. Up until recently, I couldn't find them for purchase anywhere in the States. Until now.

Meet the 8-color Yoobi pen, with yellow! Isn't it cute? All of the colors are nice and bright and the ink goes on smoothly.  With a whole range of colors in one, this is going to be a great pen for my trip abroad this summer. 

What are your Amazon faves?

Do tell. I'll try them out and if I like, I'll add to my list. 

Well, that's all for now. Thank you for supporting my artistic endeavors by shopping my Amazon list. I'll be back soon with some of my favorite motivational books for creatives. 

Ciao, Jen