Nela's Sketchbook Adventures

My personal sketchbook practice is usually a private endeavor, but occasionally I share my creative experiments and lessons I’ve learned.


Mixed media sketchbook tour 2016-2021

Mixed media sketchbook tour 2016–2021

I recently completed this 132-page sketchbook that I've been using since 2016, so it's time for another tour video! This ended up being one of my favorites, filled with fantasy portraits, quirky portraits, floral portraits... you get it, a lot of portraits. There's also animal and landscape studies, as well as abstract-ish mixed media experiments and a healthy helping of doodles. Read more...

Art and creativity for mental health and wellbeing

Art & creativity for mental health & wellbeing + mixed media self-portrait process

In this episode of Nela’s Art Chat I’m sharing the process of creating a mixed media self-portrait, and discuss how creativity and the arts can improve our mental health and help us maintain a healthy outlook on life, give meaning to our life, and help us deal with daily challenges and grief. I would love for more people to learn about this power of creativity that anyone can use in their life. Read more...

My favorite black, white and red mixed media art journal supplies

My favorite black, white & red mixed media art supplies (video compilation)

In this long 3-part video series, I share my favorite mixed media art supplies for sketchbooks and art journals, along with examples of how I use them. I’ve been keeping sketchbooks since 2006 and experimented with lots of different mixed media techniques. My approach involves a lot of drawing, doodling, and painting, usually of figurative and surreal scenes and creatures. I combine drawing mediums that allow for a lot of precise detail, along with some more fluid and expressive painterly techniques that add atmosphere, depth, and texture. Read more...

Illustrated journal page by Nela Dunato

Integrating words and images (my creative journey)

Since I started using sketchbooks in 2006, I alternated between drawing and writing. I occasionally combine the two, but it’s still not completely integrated. It’s like I have a “drawing mode” and a “writing mode”—when I’m using one, the other one is turned off. I want to evolve this part of my practice, so I’m giving myself assignments to integrate words and images. Read more...

Stop comparing your art to others

Stop comparing your art to others + Winter fairy drawing process

There are positive and beneficial sides to comparing our work to that of other artists, and there are also plenty of drawbacks. In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat I’m drawing a magical winter fairy colored pencil portrait while talking about how to productively compare your art with others’ so you can learn from it, and how to change your mindset so you don’t fall into the black hole of hating your own work because it’s not “good enough”. Read more...

Sketchbook tour compilation - watercolor and mixed media

3 video sketchbook tour compilation: Watercolor & mixed media

In the past couple of weeks I've uploaded new recordings of my completed sketchbooks on YouTube, so I'm posting all 3 videos here for your viewing pleasure! The first two are small watercolor sketchbooks featuring seascapes, urban sketches, doodles, and mixed media experiments. The last one is a mixed media art journal featuring all kinds of experimental techniques and approaches to filling sketchbook pages. Read more...

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal sketchbook techniques

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal & sketchbook techniques

If you’re interested in mixed media art journals, you’ve likely seen it all. YouTube is full of step-by-step techniques if you want to give it a try. But over the years I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like about making art, and this has led me to develop my own methods which work with my style and personality. In this article, I share some techniques I use to bring more fun to my sketchbook/art journaling practice. Read more...

Art just a hobby

Art “just” a hobby? + Creepy portrait drawing process video

In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat, I’ll show you my process of drawing the sketch “Skin deep”, while talking about a subject I feel is quite important: what if you don’t want to be a professional artist? What if you want to remain an amateur forever, or at least at the moment? There’s a lot of pressure on creatives to earn money with their skills, and I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes it’s not a wise thing to do. I’m much happier keeping my drawing and painting practice personal, and I’ll tell you why I made this choice. Read more...

What I did during my Summer Social Media Sabbatical 2019

What I did during my Summer Social Media Sabbatical 2019

I take regular social media sabbaticals in order to clear my mind and make more time for creativity and proper rest. This year I was unplugged from all social media channels for over two months–from mid-June to the end of August. Here's an update on what I did while I was away... Read more...

Sketching with fountain pens

Sketchbook Adventures: Sketching with fountain pens

As a hoarder of art and stationery, I frequently dip into creative obsessions. Lately it’s been going on with fountain pens, which are my new go-to note taking and doodling tool. In this post I share why I switched from ballpoint pens to fountain pens, which pen models I’ve bought so far (there’s quite a few), and my impressions after writing and sketching with them for a couple of months. Read more...

What's the best sketchbook out there?

What’s the best sketchbook out there?

This post is a tribute to one of my favorite sketchbooks: Canson Art Book Universal. I’ve gone through 3 of these sketchbooks since I first discovered them in 2012, and none of the other ones I’ve used so far have lived up to its versatility. Read more...

What’s in your Creative Wellness Toolbox?

What’s in your Creative Wellness Toolbox?

Artists are intimately familiar with our physical tools—but today, I’m talking about a different type of toolbox. The toolbox you need to keep yourself in optimal mental and emotional shape to be able to create not just any kind of work, but your best work. Read more...

Mixed Media Art Journals

Sketchbook Adventures: Mixed Media Art Journals

Every once in awhile, I like to share the results of my personal creative practice here on the blog. If you already follow me on Instagram, these might look familiar since that's usually the first place where I post my work in progress and finished pieces. The sketchbook pages I'm sharing today are about exploring mixed media. Read more...

WordCamp 2016 sketchnotes

WordCamp Split 2016 Conference Sketchnotes

This past weekend I was a speaker at the WordCamp Split conference, and it was a great experience overall. I was taking a lot of notes during the lectures, since that's what I do at conferences, being the nerd that I am. People have responded to them so well, that I decided to also share them here. Read more...

How to take great sketchbook photos

How to take great sketchbook photos

One of the things that makes me sad is seeing great art photographed in such a way that you can’t appreciate its true beauty. The images are blurry, unfocused, grainy and yellowish, so it’s hard to see the details and the colors as they really are. I’m not a professional photographer, but I know enough to be able to take clear photos that look good on my website and social media – and today, I’ll share some of my tips with you. Read more...