Sketchbook Habit: Keeping a Visual Diary

Sketchbook Habit: Keeping a Visual Diary

“I am feeling more confident about my drawing than I did at the beginning of class. I’m actually amazed at the progress I’ve made in such a short amount of time.” – Kelly

This is the first in a series of classes all about developing, maintaining, and growing your sketchbook habit — even if you think you can’t draw.


There are two major categories of sketchbooks in my experience —

  • Workbooks which are used as a place to explore ideas for later works of art. They tend to be filled with scribbles, notes, color swatches, drawings, and aren’t usually meant for public viewing.
  • Visual diaries which share a glimpse into the creator’s daily life or travels.  They tend to be filled with watercolor images and are often meant for public viewing.

In this class, we are going to be focused on creating a visual diary habit.

I am going to share my tips on drawing as well as embracing your personal style.


We will draw indoors and outdoors — from life and from photos!


We will be creating mixed media sketchbooks — I simply can’t resist adding collage and pens and all the fun stuff into my sketchbooks!

You can use any sketchbook you want in class, but the first lesson is actually me teaching you how to make your own (it even has an envelope inside to hold collage fodder).

Some other things to know about class:

  • You get 30 HD video lessons.  All lessons are available to you immediately.
  • I do think there is value in taking the lessons day-by-day.
  • For the most part, the daily lessons are short. My goal is for you to be able to watch the video AND create something based on it in less than one hour each day.
  • You have lifetime access to class, so you do not need to complete the 30 lessons in 30 days.  Take your time!
  • A big part of building a habit and sticking with it, is ensuring that it fits into your life. If it takes up too much time or isn’t enjoyable, most people simply won’t do it or lose interest.
  • There is a complete supply list available to you in the classroom the moment you sign up for class.
  • All Balzer Designs students have access to a private Facebook group for sharing their work.

If you’re curious about what to expect, here’s a video for an in-person sketchbook class that shares a peek into some of my sketchbooks:

And here’s a video I shared to instagram.  It’s a super sped up version of a lesson from this class:

I look forward to seeing you in class!


  • “Julie, I loved this class. It was both inspiring and practical. Inspiring in that I can see many, many new ways to see things and ideas to try. Practical in that I have a very clear idea of how to measure proportion, how to make collage fodder, how to grid, using paint versus pen, etc. I will have to practice all this, of course, to get more skilled but your enthusiasm and wonderful examples really help. I know I will watch many modules from this class again to refresh my memory–there was really a lot to learn. But the main thing is that I can see in my own sketch book how much I’ve ‘improved’–meaning how much more interesting my drawings are and how much more I like them. PS Realizing I’m telling a story (my story) has added to my understanding of what/why I am playing with art.” – Sharry
  • “Hi Julie, Thank you so much for a wonderful class! This is the first online art class I’ve taken and I was surprised by how engaging I found it despite it not being live. Your energy and enthusiasm are contagious! You presented so many new ideas to try and it was very easy to follow your video tutorials. I found myself more than willing to try new techniques – even when I wasn’t sure I was going to like them or thought I wouldn’t have good results. I know that I will return to these lessons again and again as I continue to explore my sketchbook and work on figuring out my own particular style. In looking over my sketchbook from the beginning of class to the end, I see so my sketches have so much more depth now and I’m just so pleased with the direction I’m headed in. I do hope I’ll be able to stick with my commitment to this new practice as I know it is a powerful tool to help me grow as an artist. I hope to see you in class again soon!” – Kelly
  • “Hi, Julie–I’ve taken several of your courses, and you are an incredibly kind teacher, with a great sense of humor!” – Sandra
  • “Hey Julie – A very good and fun class – thank you. Many new ideas to consider and use to expand my creative skills. Well-organized and thought-through. You anticipate the obstacles and pitfalls beginners will experience and ‘head them off at the pass.’ I prefer a live class, such as your Boot Camp, with assignments and discussion but this approach worked for me to keep my momentum going during a time I would not have been able to do a live class.  I particularly appreciated the lesson on Proportions, which was really a super easy way to do Perspective. I also enjoyed the section on Habit-Making.” – Ruth
  • “I’ve taken several classes from you, Julie, and found them all to be insightful, rich in content, and just the right amount of support to launch me off into whatever creative adventure the technique suggests.” – Peggy