Mélanie Johnsson


Stories from behind the scenes...

The Drawing Week


I have always loved drawing, and I luckily get to do it almost everyday, for work or for pleasure. But finding the time to draw from life can sometimes be difficult when you have to juggle client work, personal work and everything else life throws at you everyday.

I remember loving life drawing lessons when I was in art school, but always getting in trouble because I wasn't that interested in getting the proportions or the perspective right. I didn't care if the legs were too big or the nose too small, I liked playing with shape, form and the striking combination of black and white to delimitate a space. I also loved putting boxers and striped socks on models (who knows why?).  I was already pretty smitten with deep black ink back then, and it still is my preferred medium today. After I graduated a few years ago, my illustration work developed in a certain direction, with a focus on the animal world and lots of brush lettering. So all my illustrations are drawn with black ink, then scanned and coloured in photoshop. I rarely use colour in real life. That's the reason why all the drawings you can see here, made during this Drawing Week, are monochrome. And I really like this way!

Drawing 6 copy.jpg

A few weeks ago, I decided I needed to start drawing more humans, be more diverse when choosing my themes and more surprising. I realised I needed to start telling more stories through illustration, and take risks, instead of sticking to what I knew I could draw.

So I thought I would take a week off work and focus on drawing anything and everything I could think of. But how could I make sure I would stay focused? And not get back to old themes and repeat myself? I needed a subject and a purpose. I remember looking at the flyers from the Royal Drawing School that I keep on my inspiration moodboard (they look so good!) and thought, well, why not try a course there? It is a bit pricey, but should definitely be worth it!

And that’s how I ended up booking
my spot on the Christmas Drawing Week
at the Royal Drawing School in Shoreditch.

Drop me a line if you would like to purchase any of the original drawings shown here.

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Drawing 5.jpg
Drawing 14.jpg

It was meant to be four full days of life drawing in Shoreditch and one day spent at the National Gallery, looking up to the masters of painting and drawing. The first day was a bit rough, I thought I would get out of my comfort zone and draw with charcoals, pencils and other dry mediums. Although I could do it, I didn't really like the result and what I was producing: it wasn't me.

On Wednesday, I decided to start using black ink again. And then, a bit mysteriously, everything fell into place. I have always loved using paint brushes and I enjoy the feeling of a soaked brush on smooth paper. I love the striking contrast between black ink and white paper.

I started being able to draw the body shapes in one, smooth line, getting the proportions almost right. I say almost, because I didn't want my drawings to be about being exact and perfect, I wanted them to tell a story. For the next three days of the Drawing Week, I enjoyed painting the different models so much I thought I was never going to leave the drawing studio. Although the human shape is very lovely to draw, I particularly enjoyed going beyond what I saw. I started looking at each pose and imagining what weird, fun, surprising thing the model could be doing in my drawing. And that when I started really having fun!

Drawing 3.jpg

I definitely recommend checking out the Royal Drawing School public courses. A tiny bit pricey, but definitely worth it!

Anyway, what do you think about the drawings?
I’m curious to know. Let me know in the comments below...