black and white sketchbook table

The other day I was playing around with ink. I had some sketches from the week before. Sometimes I like to set some time aside and do several drawings in one go. And then after some days I really wanted to make one of the drawings into a digital drawing of a mocca lover. ☕️👩🏽‍🎨

coffee woman.jpg

June Creative Prompt 🖊📓👩🏽‍🎨

June Newsletter went out this weekend. It’s meant to encourage you and me to get more creative and draw more. This prompt is monthly and it mainly consists of two tasks:

📓Start a black and white sketchbook

👩🏽‍🎨Do a painting session once a week (based on said sketchbook)

Each week has a theme, this week it’s: LINE

viktorija illustration sketchbook

The reason behind starting Black and White sketchbook is that I personally struggle to focus, so sometimes setting limitations helps me. Like the smaller the box, the better results I produce. And removing colour from the problem solving tasks I concentrate on other things like composition, line and shape. And actually that black and white sketchbook ended up being the most *used one, I used so many of the drawings from there to create other work (colour and black and white). And I think it could work for you too, so I would encourage for the month of June start black and white or any one colour sketchbook (alongside your other sketchbooks if you like!). Do faces, dogs, plants, play around with patterns, draw whatever you like.

viktorija illustration

And second part is set time aside each week, an hour or two and just play around with ink (have around 5-10 sheets of paper and just draw)! As by that point you should have sketchbook with some doodles and drawings and you can create paintings based on those sketches. Let go and really enjoy the process. I find ink the easiest material to do it with.

My materials:


🖊Brush pen for sketchbook doodles


🖌Synthetic round brush for painting with Ink or chinese painting brush


📓A3 Paper (the bigger the paper, the easier it is to let go and play around)

Inspiration: Matisse’s drawings and prints, Van Gogh’s Sketches & Tove Jansson work

Please share your work with #CreateThingsHaveFun


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!


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.

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

Inspiration: Art Documentaries

I love watching Art Documentaries (as well as trashy tv shows ;). I love art of different periods (and I think what kind of art I like will be reflected in my favourite documentaries) and always enjoy a good documentary which will show me things I've never seen before and teach me things from the comfort of my sofa. Here are some of my favourite ones, they mainly art and BBC but some are art related (in a very loose sense of course :).

BBC produced the most incredible documentaries. My favourite are by Alastair Sooke and Andrew Graham-Dixon.

Modern Masters by Alastair Sooke

The World's Most Expensive Stolen Paintings by Alastair Sooke (one of my favourite documentaries of all times)

The World's Most Expensive Paintings by Alastair Sooke 

Please don't be put off by the word expensive, these two documentaries are giving an insight into art world as well as an insight into our society and the worlds of the super rich. 

How the Devil Got His Horns: A Diabolical Tale by Alastair Sooke

Constable: A Country Rebel by Alastair Sooke

Pop Go the Women: The Other Story of Pop Art

Andrew Graham-Dixon done a series of documentaries (usually a set of three) dedication to different countries and regions. They are so so beautifully done, they are so honest and open minded and give an incredible insight into the countries, people, culture, mentality and art.

Art of Scandinavia by Andrew Graham-Dixon (absolutely love it!)

Art of Russia by Andrew Graham-Dixon (being russian but born in Latvia, my upbringing was literature and music heavy and not that much around visual culture, this documentary made me want to go and visit Russia and explore all the art and way of living and reconnect with something I can not describe).

Art of China by Andrew Graham-Dixon

Art of Spain by Andrew Graham-Dixon

The Art of Gothic: Britain's Midnight Hour by Andrew Graham-Dixon

The High Art of the Low Countries by Andrew Graham-Dixon is one of my all time favourite documentaries. 

And some more BBC documentaries:

Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson I've watched it so many times. One of my favourites. I love Tove Jansson and this documentary is special too.

Sappho: Love & Life on Lesbos with Margaret Mountford

The Art of Japanese Life

Barbara Hepworth

I love Grayson Perry's art as much as I love his documentaries. They are moving, open minded and open hearted, often asking questions a lot of people avoid out of fear or being uncomfortable but they are all the question we ask ourselves but he comes from such place of kindness and love.. oh, they are something special.

Grayson Perry: Who Are You? 

All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry's Dream House

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness a documentary about Hayao Miyazaki, it's an insight into work and life of Studio Ghibli ❤️ 

Jiro Dreams of Sushi this is not necessarily art documentary in a traditional sense but it is. It's a beautiful film about Jiro Ono sushi master. His attitude towards life and work is so special and full of respect and gratitude. This film inspired me so much. If you are not sure which documentary to watch from this list, maybe start with Jiro Dreams of Sushi ❤️ 

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Porcelain Jewellery Making Workshop with Kinska At Mellisa Flagship Store

The other day I was lucky enough to attend a workshop run by talented ceramicist and artist Kinska at Melissa London Flagship Store


kinska workshop at melissa

I've been a fan of Kinska and her beautiful ceramic creations for a long time, as well as plastic and beautiful Melissa shoes, so it was an absolutely perfect pairing of the workshop and location.

kinska workshop ceramics
kinska porcelain

Kinska taught us how to create beads from porcelain and think outside of the box in terms of shapes and sizes, it was quite easy as we were inspired and surrounded by her work.

ceramic snake cute

I made a snake bead and some plain tiny beads to match. Can't wait to see them fired! snake


Thank you so much for the workshop Kinska and for having us in your beautiful shop Melissa!

Black and White Sketchbook


How are you? What's new?

All is good here. Today I finished a sketchbook, wooop woop! I normally have several sketchbooks for different things (and also because I will go half way and then delay finishing it and will start a new one, oops).

black and white sketchbook

I started this A6 Daler and Rowney (Ebony, hard cover) sketchbook in October 2016 purely for black and white doodles. But quite soon I realised (once again) that A6 is a bit too small for me to have a sense of play and really explore different techniques. I tend to buy these tiny baby sketchbooks because they look cute and then end up not really using them as much as other sizes.

I find that when I give myself some restrictions and boundaries I have more fun and learn more from the process. So this time I decided to challenge the thing which I thought was so important to my work..  C O L O U R 

I love working with colour and paint but for this sketchbook I decided to use only black and white tools. So it was one of these sketchbooks which was by the sofa or by the side of my bed when I fancied a little doodle. I tried to concentrate on lines and simple shapes for this sketchbook. 

I used pentel re fillable brush pen (one of my favourite tools)

Pentel brush pen in grey and black. The nib in this brush pen is much bigger and gives an opportunity for big washes and lots of texture. It's very flexible and variety of line is impressive, it can be very thin and delicate for tiny details or be very wide and expressive with lots of texture and energy.

Winsor & Newton Black Indian Ink

Blackwing Pencil (my favourite pencil!)

Daler Rowney Ebony Sketchbook (A6)

black and white sketchbook

Here is how this sketchbook turned out, these are the spreads I had the most fun drawing. 

Watch full sketchbook video below.

Inspiration. Part 1. An Ode to Stationery

Where do you get your inspiration from? AAA! That question makes me want to run away, scream really loud and eat crisps in a corner. That's the initial reaction. But once I start digging deep into my process I kind of enjoy exploring that inspiration and stuff and actually it's quite hard to stop (love over thinking and over analysing, woop woop! ;). 

One thing I always felt inspired by is STATIONERY! Even as a little kid I enjoyed notebooks, paper, pencils and my Dad's technical drawing set (it had several compasses, lots of funky metal things and it was stored in a beautiful velvet case). Choosing a Diary for a new school year was better than Christmas! And of course... drawing paper, sketchbooks, pads, notepads.. ohhh! A lot of my friends in art school said they could draw on a napkin, toilet paper or newspaper. They couldn't care less. And I was envious of their freedom & I felt like a spoiled brat needing beautiful paper and the perfect pencil. I thought I might grow out of it, teach myself to be less of a paper/tool snob. Nope, that didn't happen. But what happened is that I embraced the addiction. And the addiction is now fuelling my inspiration, creativity, work and in the end is bringing me money! 

andsmilestudio illustration, girl in blue jungle

In the beginning of summer I heard from MARK + FOLD, they were kind enough to give me one of their beautiful hand bound sketchbooks to fill with whatever I fancied.  Usually I hoard sketchbooks & notebooks, the more I like them the less likely I am to use it. So this time I was actually forced to start using the sketchbook I liked the most. It felt terrifying and liberating at the same time.

mark + fold and travel kit by andsmile studio


I instantly felt in love with the texture of the cloth/cover. It's very tactile and made me want to pick up the sketchbook more, which led to drawing more, keeping it always in my bag and getting it out as soon as I had a minute or two. 

The paper was quite thin and very smooth. I was a bit worried about how much paint it would be able to take and was pleasantly surprised that despite being quite thin and delicate it could handle all the paint I wanted to layer on it! And I did some thick paint pages there! 

I took the sketchbook to V&A with my sister when she visited, to a cute plant caffe in East London and even ordered a beetroot coffee to match the drawing (purely for a photo), I took it on a mini holiday to Cornwall, I took it to the parks on the picnics with cider and strawberries and spent many weekend mornings playing with paint on the pages of the sketchbook. 


It really inspired me to create work I wouldn't have created and it encouraged me to draw more. That's the point of a great sketchbook, right? I'm a big believer in spending money on something which makes you happy. And beautiful paper and cloth bound sketchbooks is something which is making me happy & inspired! 

andsmilestudio illustration viktorija semjonova girls in pink and blue
andsmilestudio illustration viktorija semjonova girls in pink and blue

Here is the final result of a sketchbook.

They are inviting everyone to share the contents of your sketchbooks & notebooks. And I really love seeing insides of someones notebook, so please do share! :) #pageturnerproject

MARK + FOLD kindly gave me the sketchbook but my review of their sketchbook is my opinion. I am really in love with their beautiful products. :) 

What inspires you?