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[Book] Koosje Koene - Life is better when you draw (it)

I received this wonderful book, “Life is better when you draw (it)”, in the last week of 2022.

I opened this book with both anticipation and fear of disappointment since this is not a book that teaches you techniques, and the total cost of book price plus shipping fee from the UK to Taiwan is relatively high. Fortunately, the reading experience is gorgeous, and I am grateful to have this book to accompany me into 2023.

Life gets better when you draw it

“Life is better when you draw (it)” is written by Dutch artist Koosje Koene. This is not a book where you can learn new painting techniques. Instead, you will learn to calm down, observe your life, and appreciate its beauty.

You might hate that your daily life is boring, the scenery you see every day is ugly, and your home is unlike those neat ones you’ve seen on IG… The author suggests you draw them down. No matter how the sketch turns out, you will notice details you have always neglected and find that they are already fascinating.

When sketching the things in front of you, you must focus and live in the moment. Thus the author believes that drawing is also a kind of meditation. Meditation has become popular in recent years. I don’t need to talk about how beneficial it is to mental health. This is where “Life is better when you draw (it)” comes from - through drawing, you can naturally meditate and dwell in the peace of mind.

This is also my goal for 2023: calm down and savor the beauty of the life I’m already living.

It doesn’t matter whether you draw well or not; what matters is to start drawing

Until a few months ago, I still preferred realistic drawings with details. Whenever I wanted to learn how to draw, I always chose books or courses focused on techniques. One day I suddenly realized: “I have no plan to draw for a living! Then why am I insisting so much on drawing well, constantly criticizing myself, and making myself feel bad? Am I not having enough pressure in my daily life?”

So I took a significant turn in my thinking and stopped looking for teachings on how to draw better, but on those that helped me loosen up and encouraged me to draw more. There are many YouTube videos around this topic, and this book covers all the suggestions I have heard and even more. The author has been teaching painting since 2013 and knows where most people are stuck. She shares her own journey, analyzes common mental obstacles, and tells you how to overcome them. Every time I read it, I am urged to put down the book, pick up my pen, and start drawing.

The book also talks about what you think would be mistakes may turn out to be an attractive style in the eyes of others. This reminds me of when my daughter was dissatisfied with her drawings. I always told her sincerely that I admire the beauty and creativity in the way she draws. She couldn’t understand nor accept my words. Thinking about it, I couldn’t let go of these thoughts to “draw well” myself until a few months ago, and she is only a preschooler! These realizations can only be obtained after several years of trial and error.

“Life is better when you draw (it)” is for those who’d really like to cultivate their drawing hobby but are always bugged by self-critics and unable to enjoy the process. The whole book is printed in color, with each page immersed in the author’s past drawings. The pictures are not just for aesthetics but to let you understand that the author has gone through these mental struggles herself. She has created drawings that she deemed failures in her eyes back then but fabulous artworks in your eyes now.

Where to purchase the book?

The author self-published the book via The British Bookshop.

I initially thought of ordering from Book Depository. Book Depository has free worldwide shipping and thus would be more cost-effective than purchasing from The British Bookshop. However, the author explained that she can get a greater profit back per sale if the readers buy from The British Bookshop. After a few struggles, I placed the order at The British Bookshop. I don’t regret spending a bit more since this book gave me much more empowerment and encouragement than I expected.

Before purchasing, you might want to watch this video in which the author flipped the book from the first page to the last:

The author’s website also lists the purchase links of all platforms: