Blog ••• Blog

April • 03  •  2018 • • • the 100 days project, 100 days of snail mail.

It is not a sexy word: snail mail but it is what really makes me happy. Except the word I like everything about it: envelopes, cards, stamps, the anticipation, the romantic idea of someone delivering your mail, the postal stamps.

As a girl I had a ‘post office kit’. Actually I still have it. It was my treasure box and I do not think I send much away. I kept adding to it. I made my own envelopes, stamps and stickers.

My grandparents loved to travel and my father (my parents were divorced when I was very young) worked all over the world. So sometimes I got a greeting card from an exotic place. That was really something special: the images, stamps and handwritten ‘greetings from …’ that had travelled miles to my home in Venlo.

In primary school I had three best friends and we wrote each other a lot of letters, made cards or surprise packages. We kept doing this when we all moved and went to university in different cities. And the ‘letters’ became more and more experimental. We would use an old food package, cut it, write something on the back and send it. Or a flimsy page from a comic book, a little bag with flower seeds. And you know what? I think every single ‘letters / card / mail experiment’ was delivered.

I still am the proud owner of a huge box full of the best cards, letters and envelopes a girl could get.

I understand that letters and post cards are very old school. But heej so am I. Old school. And I do not want to give up on this old love. So when I received the first emails from Elle Luna and Lindsay Jean Thomson announcing t-* I knew my project had to be something I would love to make time for. Furthermore, I hope the project will bring something more than me ‘experimenting’. I hope I can give some personal messages to the ones I miss, I love, I care for, I think deserve a small positive paper gesture.

On the website the challenge is explained very well. I joined in 2015 and 2017: it has brought me so much!



Besides the fact that I am very attracted to the snail mail aesthetics and think I will find loads of inspiration there, I also hope to create work for greeting cards. I would love to have my ‘own range of cards for every occasion’. Birthday, thank you, good luck etc. The obvious ones but I have never sat down and tried to make illustrations for these cards. More importantly I would love to make something suitable for a card I can send to somebody who mourns or had bad luck. Because often I do not know what to send. I have tried to make something for these moments in our lives before, but I was not satisfied with the result.

One more bonus of the challenge I set myself: I want to make my own stickers, wrapping paper, stamps etc. So I can try out working with different printers, order some stickers or printed tissue paper, make my mail ‘fun’ again.

March • 27  •  2018 • • • Have you seen the animations from Lara Lee.

I have been sketching today. I was the perfect day for working at home: a cold and rainy day. I didn’t need any cheering up. Just a lot of hot coffee and sometimes a nice animation from Lara Lee.

An animation from Lara Lee always is a good idea.


March • 26  •  2018 • • • CasaKessels


Casa Kessels 02

So 10 days ago I promised I would write a blog about the balance between creative entrepreneurship, family life and working from home once a week. Ha. Well let’s say I am not of the school ‘everything has to be perfect’, that is clear now, but I also realize I should plan this better. I like writing about being an illustrator, the practical sides of this profession,  things that inspire me, show my working process a bit more and have a space to show my own projects etc. And the only way I can realize it and take my own plans seriously is to plan time for this. Literally, I have to put ‘write a blog’ in my weekplanner, like I would plan a  commission or put down a dentist appointment. Carve out time for the things you care about, in your career, your family life, your health etc.

And one of the things I really enjoy in ‘illustration’ are all the different creative classes. You are never finished learning when it comes to drawing or illustration so there is always a good excuse to sign up for an other ‘learn to use ink like Marlene Dumas, a painting class in the Amsterdam Zoo or workshop make your own paint in the Rijksmuseum. It is fun, inspirational and you get to know other creatives. I also follow a lot of online classes. They may appear to be ideal for somebody working from home, but it is also easy to let the course slip out of your hands. Often there is no fixed time set to do the work or hand in your homework so when should you set this in your planner or build it in your routine? For some it works very well when the kids are home too.

let’s do it together

My great idol Lisa Congdon makes inspiring art and gives fabulous classes. I especially like her daily challenge classes on Creative Bug. Every day you get a new topic and Lisa Congdon starts drawing. You can just follow her, it is a meditative. Well sometimes, because l try to follow her. Because wow she is in control and it is not as easy as she makes it looks. But is is fun and you don’t have to think too much, just draw.



Oi Lisa, not so quick

Last year we could participate in a 31 daily (line) drawing challenge. With fineliners you make a page full of things like leaves, cups, chairs etc. I really wanted to join but the challenge would start on the first of the January. And in this week- a holiday in the Netherlands – we would be in Germany with our family. So I asked the kids if they wanted to join too. They did and it worked out very well. We drew leaves, chairs and pitchers together. We couldn’t keep up with Lisa’s speed so every evening you could here us yelling: Oi Lisa wait, not so quick. Lisaaa! And somebody would hit the pause button. We had fun and drew similar but different images.

This year I started together with my three kids. We were in the German woods again and I took some gouache, paper and brushes with me for the daily painting challenge: 31 days of patterns. When the holidays were over my sons stopped but I kept following Lisa’s lessons together with my daughter. We had enjoyed our time together and made great stuff. My daughter showed some of here work to an art teacher at her school and we were both so proud when she was asked to submit some of her patterns for the open day at school.


pile of work I did together with the kids for Lisa Congdon’s class


two CasaKessels’ members doing the ‘doodle pattern’

I learned from my daughter’s work too: she is far more brave than me. Look at her cloud pattern. I love it. For me it is about emotion, feeling, personal. Making rules and break them.

March • 15  •  2018 • • • CasaKessels

Casa Kessels 01

posts about the balance between family life and working at home.

Our house used to be a ‘Chocolaterie’, if you open the front door, or actually the shop door you step into our kitchen. This used to be the shop. Hello there! Our kitchen window is a large shopwindow with the original lettering still shining. So once in a while somebody knocks at our door and asks if we still sell chocolates. And then I try to explain that we all just love the silver word on our window too much and want to keep it in tact but no chocolate shop anymore. It is a familyhome. For some time now I keep thinking (and forgetting) I should have a special stock of CasaKessels chocolates to give to the lost chocolatelovers. Also it would help if I would write underneath the wonderful silver letters CHOCOLATERIE, something like: until 1995.

However, our home is my studio too. I have a large, nice space to work and store a lot of stuff. I also have three kids, a husband and two guinea pigs. So you can find me often working at our kitchen table while a little man with a big fever sleeps on our couch, our daughter has to do her maths homework, or the boys are practicing a magicians act on again a day off. Our house is a family home, a former shop, a playground and studio. It is a mix. My life is a mix. I love my work, I love my husband and am so happy I have three wonderful, healthy children. But it is different sometimes to combine these things: working as a creative from home, trying to find time to make work, learn, fold all the t-shirts boys seem to wear, be inspired, cook something else then pasta a la mama, see that awesome exposition, be active on social media .. you get the idea. About the balance between career (as a creative) and being a mother.

I do not think this topic is worn out nor corny: it surprises me every day and sometimes it even keeps me awake. So lets talk about it, here in this blog. I try to post a blog on this subject every week.

March • 09 • 2018 • • • the making of Flow, the big book about less• • •

For “Flow, the big book about less” I was asked to make 12 illustrations referring to the themes discussed in this publication. It was so much fun to work on this assignment. I was asked to create 12 illustrations using photographical elements and drawing referring to the different chapters. In this blogpost I will try to give some insights into  the ‘making of …’ this series. Because some images came easy and I had a clear idea of which photo I could use to complete ‘my story’, but for some chapters I had to sketch, think, not overthink, search a lot. Like the chapter: remember less: articles and inspiration about bullet journaling.

The image of a handkerchief with a knot immediately popped up in my mind. It is a Dutch expression and ‘habit’: if you want to remember something you make a knot in your handkerchief. But it is a bit farfetched and old fashioned …

Above you see my initial sketch / idea, and although I loved the vintage handkerchief and was eager to use it in an image I understood this illustration was not suitable for the theme bulletjournaling. It was a difficult one to let go, and find a better solution. So back to my notes and sketchbook: what is bulletjournaling about? Making lists, dots, combining your lists / diary / sketchbook / bulletjournal in a personal and creative way.


It may not be obvious but these visual notes lead me to the next step: a collection of different papers, snippets, lists, construct a cupboard. A place in your home to store things, things you want to keep and find back. You can use it to display objects, ideas or hide.  

It is fun to collage this cupboard with postage stamps, photo’s, different papers and add details. notes, visual associations with list making such as recipes, daily tasks etc. Still something was missing: how could I convey the idea of ‘relaxing’? Simple! A lazy cat.



December • 21 • 2017 • • • podcasts • • •

Sometimes it is difficult to just stay in your chair and keep on working. At least for me. What works for me  is listening to a good podcast. Especially the ‘whodunits’ are me favorites. It all started with Serial: this story about Adnan and Have Min Lee had me glued to my chair. I wanted to be Sarah Koenig’s -the maker and narrator of this podcast- best friend and chat about this case with her all day long. So I started looking for other nice podcasts and I want you to give you my list with some of my favorite podcasts and some on my wishlist.

1. Serial | this American Life Episode One.

2. CBC Radio | Someone knows Something | Adrien McNaughton

3. The jealous Curator

4. S Town

4. for the Dutch: echt gebeurd which seems to be inspired by the Moth

and I look forward a lot to listen to this one: Missing Richard Simmons.

I hope to have some serious listening time these holidays! If you have any other good listening tips please tell me.


December • 15 • 2017

Greenhouse blog is an online magazine with very handsome cast: all their pictures of flowers, plants and interiors are so elegant and inspiring.

a screenshot from Greenhouse blog

and they sell a collection of cards and prints I made especially for this blog.


collect memories

Want to see more? Go to GreenhouseBlog and have yourself some warm little spring.

December • 8 • 2017



Last weekend I went to London: on my own! That was something new for me. So I was a bit nervous about that. Especially since I signed up for something a portfolio review by lllustration Agent Matthew Shearer from BA Reps and Lou Bones from the Association Of Illustrators during the London Illustration Fair. Ai!

portfolio review

What was my biggest fear? That those cool Londoners and the portfolio group would find me somewhat pathetic. That elderly lady with her drawings looking for advice and wanting to make some new steps in her career. Of course all the other talents that registered for a portfolio consultation were nervous too. Matthew Shearer overheard us chattering about it. ‘Awh’ he muttered ‘it’s quite painless’.


It was. It even was one of the best talks I had about my work in years. Both Matthew and Lou looked at my portfolio separately and both had somewhat similar advice for me, which I think can be of benefit for other creatives as well.

• find out what makes your work special, focus on that work, make it better, use it more, show how it can be used in different markets.

• focus on the work you really love to make. If you believe you can make it work for the illustration market, go for that.

• only show the work that makes you special and you love to do.

For me they strongly advised me to keep on making work combing drawings with photographical elements. And they had some good things to say about that too. They advised me which other markets these illustrations could be used (and what I would have to do for that), how to make my portfolio richer (making series, just for fun like ‘hair’) and more interesting for a broad audience (e.g. make little time-lapse video’s while I am making such an illustration). And try to find some subjects I really would like to address and make work for that, not for a client or commission but to challenge myself and make my work ‘meaningful’, even if it is only for myself. When doing that, I would make convincing work: showing that the photographical elements are there for a reason and developing my own style.

There was a lot more advice and tips, but I keep those in my bag for a while. I’ll start working with these comments in my mind.


Some good advice, wasn’t it?

the London Illustration Fair

Three, four? floors filled with illustrators, work and some room for workshops. It was fun, a bit too much to absorb in one afternoon. But let’s name a few of my favorites:  the magic depictor, ha now I won’t ruin the magic. You just have to step and and enjoy the ride.

Kristjana S Williams had the absolute most jaw dropping work to show.

photo from Kristjana S Williams website

And then there was the fresh and somewhat bold work of Aga Giecko that intrigued me. Her work was so much about the joy of drawing and making. It made me smile and wanted to pick up my pencil – or big markers – too.

screenshot of Aga Giecko’s website / sketchbook page

Yes worth a visit: Definitely! Check the website for next year’s event:


And the rest of the trip? I really enjoyed every moment of it. London proved to be the best city for the lonely traveller. Londoners are polite, cheerful and the best at ‘small talk’. My first stop was Tate Modern and when I left the guard at the door said: ‘see you tomorrow darling’. That brought a happy smile to my face and it never left during my trip. I made me feel welcome.

London looked festive these weeks before Christmas. Dolce and Gabbana did the styling and decoration of Harrods, it was like a colorful, crazy old Italian market. Gasp.

An other thing I really enjoyed was a ‘London walk’: it is easy. You look at the program and just show up at the mentioned underground stop at the appointed time. Pay the person you think will be the guide 🙂 and enjoy. I signed up for a walk through Little Venice. Maybe not the most interesting part of London, but the guide made it into a fabulous walk. He knew so many nice stories, sang some traditional songs or recited a good poem.











Tate Modern always makes me happy, the building, the work and the surprisingly views. I also visited the London Portrait Gallery: for me a good place to observe all ways people were depicted through the ages. I was lured into the gallery by the posters of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize. How to describe this? For me it was about emotion, not too boldly displayed but almost tangible.


a screenshot from the website of the NPG, with the winning photo.

July • 3 • 2017

There is a wonderful new store in Alkmaar: PopUpStore Handpicked by Anna & Renee. Anna is part of another duo: sheeped. Sheeped sells handmade rugs and cushions from South America. Renee -het groene thee huis- makes and sells tea. Good tea!

They handpicked other products they want to sell in their shop: handmade, ecofriendly, nice & good stuff. I was happy to be invited too.

7 June 2017

In May I went to Madrid, together with the best girl I know: my daughter Fee. We walked – a lot -, looked at art, watched people, laughed, cycled, ate good food, shopped, sat in the sun, drank sumos, had a fabulous good time and want to come back. pronto.

Of course we went to the opening party of the expo ‘When you are a stranger’ in the wonderful gallery Echale Guindas. I could sent two artworks to join the good-looking crew of arty strangers. I was so good to see my two smart girls on the lovely walls of this gallery.


It was even better to meet the ladies of Echale Guindas. What a  positive & energetic inspiration! And good taste for great lunch. I wanted to open a gallery myself immediately. Si.

h a s t a   l a   v i s t a

31 May

way back in 2016

I received my new business cards: they are looking good! Anyone in the mood for a meeting?

27  January 2016



on 16 March 2018 I cleaned my blog, it uploaded so slowly and looked so messy but I could not remove this pic. It makes me so happy.


Photo1 (43)

Efteling. With sleepover. Every year. We run from the Python to Joris and the Dragon, nog een rondje, it’s everything. the autumnlight, the fountains, music, my kids, Mr.Right, the smiles, the emperors’ new clothes. We are happy.