Covent Garden Art Shops ✏️🎨

London has so many stunning Art Shops and first instalment of some of my favourite places to visit is Covent Garden Area.

First stop:

L. Cornelissen & Son is one of the oldest art shops in London, it’s 5 minutes walk from British Museum (Holborn, Covent Garden or Tottenham Court Rd Stations). It’s small, filled to the brim with traditional materials, has lots of drawers for you to look through and squeaky floors. It’s enchanting and you are bound to find some inspiration as well as some great art materials there.

Second stop:

London Graphic Centre is a huge shop covering everything from art materials to stationery to cool bags and DIY. I remember coming here as a tiny baby student illustrator on a day trip to London and feeling like I’m in paradise. To be honest nothing has changed much, art shops are still my happy place. And here you can find everything you wish for.

Third stop:

Monmouth Coffee is an inspiration. They started selling coffee in the 70’s and haven’t changed much, stayed true to themselves, trends just caught up with them. Sometimes I feel this is a beautiful parallel to finding your style in illustration, just do what you believe in and don’t worry about trends, listen to your inner voice. Thank you Monmouth Coffee for teaching this important lesson and making the best coffee. They are an institution and are worth a visit, especially if you are walking around Covent Garden between many many tourists and need a quiet break and some energy ☕️

Fourth stop:

Choosing Keeping exquisite stationery shop which moved from Columbia Rd to this central location and expanded. They sell everything from scented inks to japanese papers to pens, pencils, notebooks, paperweights and all kinds of beautiful stationery in abundance. It’s a very beautiful shop with knowledgable staff and absolutely worth a visit.

If you would like to watch my little video tour of these places you can find it here:

Please see my Art & Stationery Shop map of London (with some coffee shops and other special places to visit), map will be updated regularly and if you end up visiting some of these places thanks to my tips, please let me know!

Source: https://youtu.be/9hCfL4EZY94

Creative Newsletter

We’ve all heard one person or another say oh I’m not that creative. My Mum used to say it a lot (even though she is), then I would here it anywhere I went. Even when I would teach drawing and painting workshops people would say that they are not that creative and then sit down, spend some time working on something and produce a something out of nothing. Any form of creativity is such an incredible process but I also believe it’s more a habit of doing something rather than natural ability to just be creative. And I believe everyone is creative. So I started this newsletter filled with some prompts and tips for you and me to get into a habit of drawing more, being creative more.

In May it will be a weekly newsletter and from then on it will be a monthly one. I hope you can join in!

You can find what people create this week under the tag #CreateThingsHaveFun on instagram

And you can subscribe below

veronika by viktorija semjonova illustration
 
 

First Youtube Video video🎨✏️

I love sharing my process and behind the scenes on instagram and I take a lot of short video’s daily so it was only a matter of time when I would be brave enough to commit to a longer video’s and I’m so excited to share this first one! It’s been a while in a making and (thinking how to make it). I hope you like it! It’s about my favourite things.. trains, drawing and coffee.


✏️ Live Illustration London Collective ✏️

I’m so excited to announce that I’m now a member of Live Illustration London @lil_collective, a group of experienced and talented live illustrators.

I've been drawing live portraits for some time now and it's one of my favourite things to do. I work mainly with gouache and create full colour originals in 10-15 minutes. 
I've drawn so many wonderful @craftyfoxmarket customers, @costacoffee visitors, charcoal portraits for @boscia press day, taught @pinterestuk inspired workshop at @blogtacular and portrait painting at @vamuseum 
We offer fashion illustration, calligraphy, customisation, etching, portraits, window painting and more. We have brought our creative skills to press days, retail promotions, corporate events and private parties.  It's 5 of us ( @miss_magpie_spy  👩🏽‍🎨 @willagebbie 👩🏼‍🎨  @immieowen 👩🏻‍🎨 @trinitymitchelldesign 👩🏽‍🎨 & me 👩🏼‍🎨) and our skillsets are different but what we have in common is that we are making things entertaining and memorable (be it a PR event, customised product or a portrait). If you are interested to see what we can offer follow us at @lil_collective  or have a look at our updated shiny website here.

Summer Party & Easter Invitation

I love a summer party and especially the one which comes with a cute invitation. I got to draw a girl who’s going to a summer party for sisterMAG issue 47, they made it into a super cute printable card set. You can find it on their website and download the template and have a read through the issue.

 
IMG_0053.JPG
 

If you use the printout, please send me a photo.



 
 

Oslo Weekend Guide

Oslo was a place I always wanted to go, but I didn’t know what to expect or had a very clear idea of what it’s going to be like.

I fell in love with Oslo from the first Hei Hei 👋🏼 It’s such a beautiful and grand city but it’s so calm, charming and not showing off at all (because when you are that cool and amazing you don’t need to do that, right?!) and I hope to visit it again in the future.

I had just over two days to explore this beautiful city, love for coffee, art and people watching and so with some googling, friend tips and asking locals here are my favourite things to do in Oslo on a weekend trip.

 
Oslo guide by viktorija
 

🎨 Astrup Fearnley Museet

Contemporary Art museum located beautifully next to Aker Brygge it’s a joy to walk towards it. The building itself is spectacular and is facing the sea. It’s one of the most impressive Contemporary Art museums I’ve ever been. The permanent collection features Frank Benson, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon & David Hockney (it rotates but some of the more popular pieces are always on display).

 
 

However what really blew my mind was temporary collection, exhibition I visited was called Sun and Spring in January - Next Generation in Contemporary Norwegian Art. A lot of them are women and their work is amazing (art & feminism, some of my favourite things). My favourite were Mercedes Mühleisen with a video projection // installation, Miriam Hansen & Constance Tenvik.

 
 
 

The space is incredibly inspiring so after soaking up all the art I got myself a cup of coffee and sketched overlooking beautiful sculptures and the sea.

 
 

🎨 Munchmuseet

The scream was not there but I went to see The Swan Princess (Russian Art 1890-1910). Being russian I grew up seeing a lot of the paintings in books, fairy tales, learning about them in school but I never saw them in person (I was born and grew up in Latvia), so it took me only a trip to Norway to explore that art and connect to that part of my identity. The exhibition intertwined Russian art of that time with Norwegian contemporaries in such a beautiful and human way. Curators explicitly wrote in the exhibition description that it was their intention, to bring people closer together through art in current political climate. I would love to visit museum again and see more of their view.

🎨 The Vigeland Park

Beautiful park filled with works of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. The park is so spacious and works as a perfect backdrop for the stuning amount of work and epic scale/quantity of Gustav Vigeland sculptures.

 
Vigeland Park
 

✏️ Lush Dive

Stationery shop. They have absolutely everything and of the best quality. I left with some sketchbooks, pencils, pencil grips, pencil sharpener and came in just to have a browse.

 
Lush Dive Oslo by viktorija
 

☕️ Supreme Roastworks

Excellent coffee. I mean.. they do LOVE coffee in Oslo, it’s drank mainly black and filter and that’s the way I love it. Majority of places offer fantastic cup of pour over and are happy to chat to you and ask what kind of coffee you like.

☕️ Tim Wendelboe

Is an establishment and I’ve heard about it before. I was recommended a cup of coffee based on the weather conditions and it was one of the nicest coffee’s I’ve ever had. Also while having a coffee outside and enjoying the sunshine a stranger approached us and asked to look after his dog while he bought coffee. Got a coffee and a dog for 3 minutes, not guaranteed it will happen to you but worth a try?



Places for walks and sightseeing:

🎵 Stop by Opera, it’s a fabulous building with incredible architecture inside and out.

👩🏽‍🎨 Walk around Grünnerløkka (you are guaranteed to end up there, super trendy area with lots of cute things to see and river to walk by).

🏰 Akershus Fortress

👑 The Royal Palace

🌊 Aker Brygge

🐶 Do some dog spotting, there are so many cute and friendly dogs and also cats.




🎨 For this trip and that sketch session at the Astrup Fearnley Museet I used:

📓 Corner Sketchbook from Present and Correct

✏️ Caran D’ache Luminance Pencils. I love how creamy and non water soluble they are. They come in a variety of different colours and are perfect on their own or add texture to paint.

Hope you liked my guide.

Have you ever been to Oslo? Are you going? Would love to hear what other places would you recommend visiting?

📖 ☕️

I finished reading 📖 Just Kids by Patti Smith. What a beautiful read 💖 As I was reading it, the book reminded me of my uni years and final year, working on final project. My friend Sarune @00instant00noodles00 loved Patti Smith. We worked in her flat on finishing touches of our projects, running on 4h sleep, tons of 🚬, coffee and  sometimes 🍻 as we were drawing and sleeping in turns in between we were blasting Patti Smith Because The Night (belongs to looovers, because the night belongs to lust 🎶 because the niiiiight belongs to lovers because the night belongs to us). And as I was finishing the book, thinking about drawing, process, reflection, connection with people, friends, life, what’s important, where inspiration comes from, how things are so unpredictable and intertwined, this song just became so right and perfect for my life in this moment :) 🎵 📚 ✏️ Just Kids.

patti smith and sarune by andsmilestudio viktorija semjonova

Friday Market Trips

Some of the Fridays on my way to work I go through Portobello Market. Before moving to my new studio space at Kindred Studios last September I saw the market as something which used to be fantastic for antique and second hand bargains and now was replaced by mass produced souveniers and overpriced vintage shirts and vinyls. But it turns out that if you just stick with it and keep going up up up.. you'll find true treasure. And if you turn right from Portobello to Golborne Rd you will come across beautiful furnutire, mixed boxes of random stuff filled with someones trash ready to become your treasure. 

 
photo portobello market london
 

I tend to hunt for old ceramic cups and plates (I use plates as palettes for painting and started to include them as part of my workshops, they perform much better than plastic palettes and are enviromentaly friendly and of course much more beautiful).

In recent weeks though I came across a few lovely photos. I love drawing people and I think it's because I am so intrigued by people, I find us/you/them fascinating, I love connecting with people around me and getting to know stories, experiences and perspectives. And old photos are such riddles, mix of names, years, memories. Or nothing and we can be guessing who these people are and what they did. At first I bought photos to use as references for future workshops but then I found myself using them to just paint and play around. I found the process inspiring, just one photo and lots of questions about the person. Did Sheila (it does say Sheila on the back of this photo below) pondered about creativity and creative block? Was she happy? Was she in love? What was her favourite food? Was she a career woman? What were her dreams and her fears? I think green was her colour and that jacket with a strong power shoulder gave her confidence. 

Maybe next time you are at a second hand market, pick up some photos and have a stash so when you feel like drawing or painting you can go through them and find inspiration! :) ✏️ 

 
gouache portrait painting
 

Gouache Portrait Painting Workshop

 

I love painting portraits and I love using gouache. So to combine the two and share my love for both the subject and the medium in a workshop is pure joy. I am a believer that everyone is creative, we just need a little bit of time and a little bit of space. And some inspiration and likeminded people around us to encourage :)

I taught a lovely group of 5 the other weekend. We painted women, talked life, had cake and they learned how to go from some reference photos to a full gouache portrait. 

andsmilestudio portrait painting workshop

Here are some of the paintings from the day.

Thank you so much for coming!

More workshops can be found here