The Sketchbook Revival Experience

I’m one of those annoying metaphysical-minded individuals who goes around spouting things like “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Maybe it’s true.

This thought has been on my mind quite a bit in recent weeks as I’ve slowly worked my way through Sketchbook Revival 2021, an event put together and hosted by Karen Abend. This is an online event — all free — which features artists from all over the world sharing various projects, and offering new learning experiences.

For the record, this year’s event has ended — the final day of online availability was April 18 — but I do have a listing of all the artists who presented workshops, so if there’s a particular activity you’re interested in, you can check the artist’s website and probably find information, a “demo course”, or a newsletter sign-up.

Where did I hear about Sketchbook Revival? I don’t know. I’m guessing it probably showed up in an email from one of the newsletters I receive. A lot of time I skip over newsletters without really reading them, but fortunately I must have opened this one and clicked on a link. I was surprised by all that I found waiting for me at Sketchbook Revival. The event included 29 different video tutorials — actual workshops, in my opinion — on everything from urban sketching to block printing.

Once I got over my surprise at finding so many creative programs — all for free — I was then surprised anew to learn that this was the fourth year for the event. The first Sketchbook Revival was held in 2018. So, where was I? At that point I was drawing and painting, I called myself “an artist”, so how did I miss out?

Aha! Here’s the metaphysical tie-in. Obviously, I wasn’t ready. In 2018 (or subsequent years) I probably couldn’t have fully appreciated all that Sketchbook Revival had to offer. Even now — 2021 – it was an emotional experience for me. It, in fact, became the basis of my recent “personal art therapy” explorations. Quite simply, I needed Sketchbook Revival. I was ready for it, and miraculously… not one, but 30 different teachers appeared, 29 presenters and 1 host.

I was excited from the start. The very first project you might recall from posts I’ve made was the hand-made sketchbook. Oh, what a dream come true that was for me! I loved the whole idea of creating a personal sketchbook just for the workshop experience.

But then, things went downhill for me. I found myself struggling to follow directions. Having already discovered the painful parts of my “inner art child“, I became — truly — an emotional wreck as many of the projects took me back to those frustrating days in school. Cutting. Pasting. Doing all those things I could never do.

For the first few days, my level of frustration continued to rise. But then we came to Urban Sketching, and things “loosened up” in my brain. I relaxed. I had fun. I enjoyed creating a little vignette with my gansai.

From there on, it was mostly smooth sailing through the rest of the workshops. The focus was very much on intuitive, meditative, quiet art, on learning to really get in touch with who we are and our own unique creative process.

Some information was quite technical, some workshop projects were a little wild, and some were simple enough that I’ll have fun doing the activities with our grandsons. Most of the classes I liked, some I loved, a few just weren’t for me, and needless to say, I wasn’t much of a fan of “Drawing Perspective Made Easy” by David Drazil. Nope. Sorry. Drawing perspective is not easy, but thanks for the project handouts. Maybe they will be helpful.

I learned that I don’t really care much for stamping and printing, although it would be fun to play with those ideas a bit more. Of course, as I’ve previously written, I was aghast at the idea of altering books, but then fell in love with making my own collage papers, part of the same workshop.

Overall, it was a good experience, and I’m now enrolled in several additional free classes offered by different instructors. My inner art child is beginning to heal through this process, I’ve learned a lot of new skills, and I think my understanding and awareness of my own creative ability has increased.

There were many different teaching styles among the presenters. Some rushed through demonstrations so quickly that it was nearly impossible to keep up. Others — like Trupti Karjinni — patiently demonstrated the techniques we would be using before we began our painting project. Some gave good step-by-step instructions; one presenter spent nearly the entire time casually chatting with the host instead of the viewers.

During the event, I made sketchbooks, a simple concertina, and lots of collage papers, so I certainly didn’t come away empty-handed. I also created a lot of playful, colorful art that’s now posted around my studio.

So, yes, it was definitely worth it, worth the initial tears and frustrations, worth the time invested, worth the effort to listen and learn. Now, I can’t wait for Sketchbook Revival 2022.

Here is the list of artists who offered online tutorials:

Kiala Givehand

Tina Mundelsee

Danny Gregory

Carla Sonheim

Jeanne Oliver

Sarah Matthews

Shari Blaukopf

Neeshi Merani

Tamara LaPorte

Karen Stamper

Robyn McClendon

Jessica Swift

Amy Maricle

Helen Wells

David Drazil

Trupti Karjinni

Shelly Klammer

Mati Rose

Susan Chiang

Este MacLeod

Sarah Simon

Helen Hallows

Traci Bautista

Deborah Putnoi

Alexandra Gaboor

Noopur Thakur

Koosje Koene

Joun Muir Laws

Karen Abend

I’m not adding links to each artist, but a quick online search will lead you to their websites and give you all the information you need.

And those pears? Yes, they were part of a watercolor workshop, this one taught by Susan Chiang. I enjoyed her presentation.

Overall, I’m grateful to have found the Sketchbook Revival program, and I will definitely look forward to participating next year. Until then, I encourage each of you to explore the artists who presented different projects. Each has a lot to offer, so visit a few of their websites, sign up for the freebies they offer, and if you need any additional information about any specific artist on the list, please let me know.


  1. I was able to participate for the first time this year, and I am so glad that I did! I did all of the lessons. Even when I thought that I wasn’t interested in the subject, it would turn out to be fun and a great learning experience.
    I am glad that you were finally able to relax and enjoy the lessons. Sometimes doing any kind of art just for the sake of making art is therapeutic. It doesn’t matter how it turns out. As you may have heard many times before, we are our own worst critics. Let’s just have fun making art!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was really a great experience overall. I’m really glad I participated. I loved doing the collage paper, learning to make my own sketchbook was awesome, and all of the programs were fun.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This was my first year doing it. I’d never heard of it before. Now I can’t wait for next year! It was unbelievable that so many artists took part in doing free workshops. I learned so much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had never heard of it before either although it’s been going on for several years. This was definitely the right time for me to learn about it and take part. It was a very memorable experience.


  2. Sounds brilliant! Where can one find more details about the Sketchbook Revival Experience? Details such as how long does the experience last, the starting date, how long is each workshop, does one need to prepare materials in advance, can one watch the sessions later or only live… etc

    Sounds a bit unadventurous, I know, to be asking so many questions rathrr than just diving in. It’s about scheduling. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Last year was the first time I took part in Sketchbook Revival, and I’m guessing the set-up will be about the same. There were about 24 different artists/workshops, one each day after the program started. These were all recorded and were available online for about a month. Each one had an “introductory page” that showed what materials would be needed if you wanted to work along. I didn’t do any “live” sessions. I just watched day by day each morning — I actually started out several days behind. The workshops were all about 20-30 minutes BUT… in some of them the host spent a lot of time talking to the artist. In the recent “pre-session” video for this year (making a hand-sewn book) Karen talks to Sarah for about 15 minutes before the actual demo starts. The demo itself is about 10-15 minutes. You can go to SKETCHBOOK REVIVAL 2022 (just put that in your search engine) to get more information, or if you’re on Facebook, there’s a group there, too. It’s really a great opportunity to “re-charge” creative batteries. I don’t have the official start date yet, but again, once it begins the complete schedule will be posted (I think. That’s how it was done last year.) If you have any other questions, let me know! It’s a great experience. I hope you can join in the fun.


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