Ok, so my Strathmore mixed media journal isn’t really made of gold, but the metallic paints meandering over the cover and the gold edges inspired by illuminated manuscripts have given it something of a reputation as a golden sketchbook.

This was the first sketchbook from our eight week trip to the fairytale places of Europe. I couldn’t believe that I actually managed to finish a whole sketchbook – a first for me. I was so lucky to have the time to just play, and so lucky to have a family that generously waited as I waved my watercolours dry or frantically tried to draw as the sun went down.

(When I say “finished” I really mean that I got something on pretty much every page. It doesn’t mean that I’m not revisiting some of the pages if I ever have time! I ran short of gold paint and time to let paint dry towards the end of the trip, so that is something I still need to do.)

If you are interested in seeing the pages closer up I have added pictures below. Click on any one of them to run a slideshow.

I will be sharing the second sketchbook soon, and I’ll share a few of the lessons I learnt during our adventure – including what I packed in the way of travelling art materials. I know that is something that always interests me!

I hope you like it 🙂



  1. Oh Helen, this is truly wonderful, so much better than photos as you will always remember what happened at each spot. I adore the gold, but did you ever finish it? So much work! You really are making me want to get out there and sketch, so thank you x

    • Thanks so much Charlotte. Every time I look at that sketchbook it brings back wonderful memories, and lots of them involve traveling with family. It’s priceless to me, as they say. And you’re right – of course I haven’t finished it! One day, I hope, but the reality is that I rarely come back to sketches that aren’t finished on location then and there. It has such a different feel when the place isn’t fresh in your mind. Not that that should stop me adding golden borders! So many things on my to do list, and it remains there as something I would like to finish off, add stories to and blog (although I think that horse has well and truly bolted), or make a little book. I don’t mind having projects I can revisit – it means I’ll never be bored! I really hope you do get out there and sketch – you won’t regret it 🙂


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