The truth about my artistic inspiration plus a free download! - Manuela Bianco
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The truth about my artistic inspiration plus a free download!

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People often ask me where I take artistic inspiration from for my ballpoint pen artwork so I wanted to take you on a journey of discovery about my world and hope to inspire your creativity too!

For the past 16 years I’ve lived in The Netherlands with my family. We are incredibly lucky to have lived for 12 of those years by the Hague Forest (Haagse Bos) ( – which is a mixture of a public park and a forest. It’s actually one of the oldest remaining oak forests in the Netherlands and is approximately one square kilometre in size. 

Bluebells in The Hague forest during spring.

It is the place where we’ve visited most as a family. We’d take picnics together and hunt for frogs or other natural things when our children were small. I have so many magical memories of our time spent there! Nowadays I tend to go there on my own to find artistic inspiration as my kids are in that hermit-like stage of the teenage years and it’s a struggle to get them to accompany me! 

Observing insect in The Hague forest in 2014.

The park inspires me every time I go there, regardless of the season. The other day I took a walk around it. The sun was shining. Daffodils were waving their merry yellow heads at me. People were out and about enjoying the sunshine and flowers. It was so lovely and I feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful natural habitat so close to my home. 

So how specifically do I get inspired there? To be honest, I find artistic inspiration in everything. I squat down, low to the floor and look at small weeds and plants growing near rocks. Or I look up high and see the shapes of moss growing on tree trunks. Sometimes I take close-up photos of what I see, so that I can use the photos for inspiration at home. Sometimes just seeing the way light reflects through the leaves of the trees can give me an idea of how to express different tones in my drawings. 

And drawing more was my New Year’s resolution for 2022. Prior to that I had been teaching lots of drawing classes, which I love, but I was missing that creative outlet that brings me so much joy. I’ve just launched a gorgeous new website and I wanted to celebrate this new beginning with a freebie. Phone wallpaper seemed like the perfect choice and my ballpoint pen art lends itself very well to such a purpose. Sometimes we are so fixated on our screens that just a gentle reminder of nature can lift our spirits and remind us to get out into the natural world more. 

Three free phone wallpapers with three different botanical designs: daisies, lilies and hollyhocks.

I spent a lot of time selecting which drawings would work best and decided on three drawings of lilies, hollyhocks and daisies. The lilies come from a series that I drew recently and I’m particularly enamoured with the technique of dots that I used and the way their delicate petals curl up. The hollyhocks are another special flower for me as they are often planted by residents in the streets of The Hague, at the foot of trees. Their blooms in springtime are really something to see! I also love collecting them to dry, to use as artistic inspiration, and collecting their seeds in autumn. 

And my final freebie flower is the humble daisy. It started as a doodle that became a meditative act to see just how many different types of daisy forms I could create. It’s such a lovely process to calm the brain and let your hand and eye take over. I hope you love the final drawing as much as I do! And I hope I have inspired you to be curious about your surroundings, find artistic inspiration of your own and maybe try sketching things yourself.