Too much equipment?

Aug 7, 2020

Do you take everything but the kitchen sink when you go sketching outside??

It may look like I have a lot of equipment here, but it all fits in a small rucksack.

If you haven’t joined one of my courses, and would like to know my basic kit for sketching outside, it will be in my next newsletter.  Just click here to subscribe

Too shy?

Jul 30, 2020

Are you still a bit shy when it comes to sketching on location?

Many people say to me ‘Oh I am not brave enough to sketch in public! What if someone looks at my drawing?’ I remember this feeling, closing my book quickly, pretending to be busy with my bag, turning away…

I want to help you make this next step, so I have put my top eight tips together for you in a downloadable pdf, free when you sign up to this month’s newsletter. It is included for subscribers 🙂  along with the usual news from the studio, insights, artist and workshop links and some sunshine!

Just follow the link below.

Sketching on location tips with Karen Stamper

Facebook LIVE! Over 60 sketchbooks

Jul 22, 2020

So I did it, I dealt with technology and stage fright and managed two facebook live posts! 

I have spent many hours in a classroom in front of teenagers, so I should be fine, but knowing that facebook live can be seen around the world, and by peers and friends, who might be thinking ‘What is Stamper doing now?’ does make me a bit nervous!

With just my ipad and trusty tech assistant Richard, I shared my studio goings on and my sketchbooks.

In normal times visitors to Open Studios really enjoyed looking through my sketchbooks, over 60 books, from many years of traveling.

I just want to say thank you to everyone who joined me – over 4k views and 200+ comments! What a fantastic way to connect with people from around the world, I love it, it really is virtual travelling, not to the shady streets in Italy or the harbour front Auckland, but to the people actually living in these places, and chatting to them, sharing our love of art and making new friendships.

We may be locked down but in many ways we are reaching out more, and making new and different connections.

You can see my second live, my sketchbook tour here  

Keep up to date with my mailing list here

All about my Online Sketchbook Courses

May 19, 2020

I have four exciting and creative online courses. They are on the Coursecraft platform. It is easy to sign up with your email and a password, and that is all that you need to access the course.  As with all my courses 1-4 once you’ve enrolled and paid, you have access to the course material forever! You can devour it all in one weekend or take things slow. It’s your choice! It is not a class that you join with the tutor each week, on my courses you watch the short videos, then have a go.

My courses are self paced; you can complete them in your own time. It may be a binge for a day, or spread over weeks. You log on and off when you want to. There is no weekly timetable.

The five courses are

Creative Concertina Sketchbooks 1 – Buildings 

Creative Concertina Sketchbooks 2 – Allotments/Gardens

Creative Concertina Sketchbooks 3 – Abstracts

How wild is your garden? – A mini 25 minute lesson 

Free Up Your Sketchbook and GrowSix week course to free up and develop a personal response

They are suitable for new artists and those more experienced artists who want to learn new techniques. I first started making them after touring the world ? (Sydney, Barcelona, Carcassonne, Whitstable, York, Cambridge) with a one/two day workshop using concertina sketchbooks in a fun, freeing way.

I like to share my techniques learnt over the years, I want to give you the tools and confidence to develop your books in a loose, creative, and often collage way. If you have a lovely new sketchbook and don’t know where to start on those pristine white pages then this is the course for you. You will learn how to use mixed media in your sketchbook, using many creative techniques and exciting mark making ideas. I want to help you free up and respond to the world around you.

My online courses are perfect if you find yourself too busy to attend classes and cannot find a suitable sketchbook class and you are happy to work around your own commitments

I divide courses 1-3 into course into six lessons with sub headings of 5-10 mini video lessons. In each short video I introduce new materials and techniques and as you go along you will build on the techniques learnt in the previous lesson.

Do I need to be able to draw?

Not at all! My sketchbooks are much more about mark making and exciting surfaces, with as little or as much drawing as you like. Some participants draw lots, some collage lots. I do provide some pdf photographs for you to work from for inspiration, if you need them.

What materials will I need?

You will use quite simple materials such as ink, collage papers, pva glue. I do not like to use a lot of fancy materials, that are difficult to source. The materials lists are based on my demonstrations and what I use, but of course you can develop these ideas with other materials. Links to suppliers are given on the course. The basics are: a concertina sketchbook (or you can make your own) posca pens, ink, gesso, spray bottle, pva glue, drawing pens, masking tape, collage papers, scissors, brushes, kitchen roll, sandpaper, pencils, magazines, glue, water soluble felt tip, sticky labels.

Which one should I do first?

I recommend that you start with Buildings or How Wild is my Garden so you can see the way I work. I continue to build on  the techniques learnt in Allotments and Abstracts.

If you are ready to fall in love with concertina sketchbooks that enables continuous ‘drawing’ – page after page of changing scenes this may be just what you need.

You can see two small lesson sections  here

What others are saying

I am so glad I signed up for this. I have watched all the videos too and I think the course looks absolutely amazing. I need to purchase some bits and bobs and then I will be ready to go. I often include textiles in my work and I can see that there will be an opportunity to do this. Can’t wait to start.  Carol

Thank you! I have finally had a moment to go through the course. I teach sketching as well and LOVE your approach. I have told all my students about your work and could see having you come to Texas to teach at some point 🙂 Meanwhile, I am going to play with all the techniques that you showed us in this marvelous, user-friendly course. Can’t wait to sketch with you sometime–in the UK or here in the USA. Thanks again, 

Now I’ve watched once and taken notes and am so excited to begin! Will share in the facebook group as I go. Thank you, Karen, for this inspiring workshop! So glad I signed up for it. Jackie

Got so excited, couldn’t stop watching. Karen thank you for an inspirational workshop, time now to collect my ” toys” and supplies – and start exploring. Am a fairly experienced painter – but you have ignited my creativity to sketch and begin to explore my new home county of Rutland. A big thank you. Maggy

‘So pleased this online workshop has taken off. It’s really transformed my mindset to sketching’ Gillian

I’ve been looking at Karen’s work for quite a while and wondering how she achieved the effects in her concertina sketchbooks, so when the opportunity to find out came up, I jumped at the chance.

“And it was well worth the effort! I won’t give away Karen’s secrets – but I will say that she starts slowly to get us over the natural trepidation most of us feel. Dribbling ink and squirting it with water while it runs down five or six pages of the concertina must be a proven ice-breaker. After that it was just one bit of fun after another, involving PVA, gesso, frottage, markers, collage and some hard thinking.

I ended up with six pages of an abstracted townscape full of references to Crete. One of the fascinations of the concertina sketchbook is that as it’s folded, new compositions come into view.” Harry Bell

Loved every moment. Karen is such a generous tutor – so informative and helpful. One very happy student – thank you. xx ” Jude B

I was eagerly trying to soak up all the great techniques and info that you are willing to share with us.” Bernadette

“Thank you for very stimulating lessons. It Is very interesting how everyone interprets your instructions differently. I was somewhat out of my comfort zone as I normally like everything very ordered but there was a fantastic freedom doing the collage and I will definitely develop it further. Thank you for your time and enthusiasm.” Jane B

Allotments – Locked out

Apr 25, 2020

Over a month has passed since my last Allotments post, and the world has changed so much. I was so looking forward to drawing in the allotments, every month, throughout the year. There is a padlock and a social distancing notice on the gate now…

In the first couple of weeks of lockdown I tried to continue with work on progress, and of course it wasn’t really happening, but I made myself work big, and quick in acrylic. You can see in the first three photographs here. I worked from my Emily Ball studies, trying to recreate the energy and joy of mark making in paint.

I then started to recompose, cutting and tearing images, re-sticking to paper and wooden panels. And then I stopped.

Like many of you, I am sure, I flit between different projects. I began working on the small panels on the wall behind. They seemed to be just the right size, and with abstract compositions I began to get my mojo back. ?

Art Juice Podcast

Mar 24, 2020


Art Juice Podcast with Alice Sheridan and Louise Fletcher

This week, we are joined by special guest Karen Stamper. Karen is an accomplished painter and collage artist with a special passion for sketchbooks. She teaches workshops in person and online and in this episode, we pick her brains about helping adults loosen up, have fun and learn. As a former art teacher in high schools, Karen has an interesting perspective on the difference between adult learners and children.

We also discuss the importance of being generous with your knowledge and have an extensive conversation about how artists can take their teaching online, an important topic in this time in which workshops are being cancelled around the world.  Our discussion includes how to know if you will enjoy teaching, how to get over fear of the camera, which platforms work best. how to build an audience for your online course, and the importance of encouraging and supporting students through the challenges of learning new things.

If you would like to make a course with Courscraft I have a referral link



Escape to Zanzibar

Mar 9, 2020

There was always a plan, to escape the allotments in the short dark days of February.

Zanzibar has always been a magical word, I just love saying it, so we went, in the hottest month! In between lolling around listlessly and eating the best seafood, I managed to fill my sketchbook – I didn’t read the five books that I packed, just too much effort!

Stonetown is a bit like Havana and Essaouira, crumbling walls, small shady streets, wonderful doors, scaffolding made from sticks, and with the smiliest people who just want to pass the day having ‘social conversation’ with you. I didn’t sketch the first few days, it always takes time to acclimatise and get one’s bearings, and Stonetown has a maze of streets to get lost in.

I began to find my feet more in the south of the island. The local fishermen and boys, showed me their catch, and inspected my sketchbook and asked Man United?? Early morning was the coolest part of the day, but nothing helped my watercolours that had turned into sticky blobs and my posca pens that overflowed with the slightest touch – and they both took a long time to dry, but I quite liked the new marks.

I hope that you enjoy the photos, and that they give you an insight into the beautiful island of Zzzzzanzzzziiibar! ?


Allotments development with Emily Ball

Feb 18, 2020

This week I spent three days working with Emily Ball.

It is a full on painting workshop for twelve artists that I organise every year, in February. Where else would you rather be on a grey weekend??

We were set homework –  a lot of drawing, which I had incorporated into my allotment studies.  We were encouraged to use these drawings to find our subject, not to copy them. I am happy and confident when making marks with the delights of charcoal, posca pens, inks and artgraf but slippery paint is a different beast and it takes time to learn it’s language. A lifetime!

Our job was to animate. I wanted to intensify the detritus of the allotment and tried to get the paint to give this back to me in a relevant language that is exciting and painterly. I am on the journey, but still lots to do!

Allotments – rip it up!

Feb 11, 2020

This week it has been finger numbing cold and now we are on the end of Storm Ciara, so I have focused on drawing from drawings, in my studio. Top right is upside down, but I quite like it this way.

All the images have another drawing ripped and collaged on top. I love the freshness that this brings, especially if the drawing is fine – but not exciting yet. It also opens up white space.

At the end of the week I remembered my Greek sticks! These can be found in abundance on a beach in Crete, they are mainly bamboo, I think. This little stubby root fits so snuggly in the palm of my hand. You can see little clips of these in action on my instagram @Karen_Stamper_Collage where I have been asked ‘Is that a chicken’s leg? A kangaroo arm??”?

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