General, Travel

Tips for sketching in Museums

In times when it’s easier to take a quick snap and get to the next room but I find that taking time to actually sketch pieces you like in museums is much more rewarding. I’ve received some questions about how to keep a good journal/sketchbook while traveling, so here are four tips for making the best out of museum visits when out of town ( maybe it also applies to your local museum…).

Guide for sketching in museums

1. Travelling with people

Make sure your travel companions know you will want to sketch. Travelling together with people who have different priorities can be hard, but it’s important that you let people know that you want to enjoy the pieces and take your time to do it. In case of any disagreements, go by yourself, or include others in your process: ask them to point out things for your to sketch as well, so they feel included.

Guide for sketching in museums

2. No final pieces!

Don’t try to make final pieces of art. In the museums, especially if you are traveling you only have a certain amount of time. Try to sketch the things you liked the most, and spend only a maximum of 10 minutes per sketch ( this is already a lot!! ). It’s a good exercise for you and you will get to see more of the museums if you stick to your time.

Guide for sketching in museums

3. Choose your weapons

Bring a sketchbook, and something ‘non-messy’. It doesn’t matter if you really want to do water colours or gouache, if it might spill on you, someone else, or even worst ‘something’ else. You should probably leave that for later. Avoid problems with the museum security by simple bringing a pen or coloured pencils.

Guide for sketching in museums Guide for sketching in museums

4. Dealing with interested strangers

Many people tend to enjoy seeing other people sketching, and you will probably encounter some strangers asking to see your work or simply starring at your drawings. The first time this happened to me, I got all embarrassed because my work was not ‘good enough’ and froze, simply put my sketchbook away and walked really fast towards the next room. No need for that! Be proud that you are not only taking photos, and that even if you are not a famous artist, they all started somewhere. 😉

Guide for sketching in museums
Guide for sketching in museums
There you go! Four tips for you to make your museum visits a bit more interesting! I hope you liked it, and if you have any questions, just leave me a comment!



Charlottenburg, Berlin


Charlottenburg is by far my favourite place in Berlin. It’s a beautiful neighbourhood, with calm streets, lots of restaurants and cafes, old and well groomed buildings, a lovely lake, and a castle. I’m not a person who likes crowds, a bit of an old soul, and I find that staying in this area makes me actually enjoy being in Berlin. There is a feeling of community whenever I’m staying there, it feels like I see the same faces in the same spots.

There is a castle in the area, called Schloss Charlottenburg, which unfortunately i have not been able to visit just yet, but whenever I drive in front of it, I’m always in awe. The hidden gem in Charlottenburg for me is not the castle, but a lake called Lietzensee ( Lietzen Lake ). Calm area, filled with trees and flowers, with some families, and eventually some dog walkers. It’s the perfect spot to read a book or do some live painting without much disturbance.

Lietzensee by Jackie Diedam

From the restaurants in the area, I think the ones in the Stuttgarter Platz are great for people ( and doggie ) watching, but if you ask me Lentz Gasthaus is the very best. Whenever I go, I always order the same dish, and it’s always perfect ( I actually tend to do that a lot… old soul ): Pappardelle with Salmon. To drink, just order a Hugo, and simply forget any life troubles you may have at the moment. The restaurant on the side Gasthaus Leonhardt, comes on a very close second place to me. They do a great Truffle Pasta, beautiful desserts, and good service.


For breakfast, during the week you can either have a long sit down at any of the places I’ve mentioned before, where they serve ‘continental breaksfast’, omeletes, english breakfast, etc, or just get yourself some pastries or a sandwich with a fresh orange juice from  Windback Bakery. I always go for the second option. On weekends, the cute DaWanda Snuggery offers a nice breakfast buffet, and across the street a very cute little pastry shop , called Patisserie Sarina offers brunch options, including pancakes with maple syrup!!! But whatever you do, bring a sketchbook and draw all the doggies you see!


The overall style in the area is a bit fancier than in the centre of Berlin or near tourist attractions. Whenever I’m staying there, I like to wear softer colours. This last time as I told you in my last post, I was doing my Berlin Museum Hopping, and I was going to spend a lot of time standing and walking around, so comfortable shoes and a practical bag made me feel a little less self-aware in the museums.

Packing guide to Charlottenburg - Jackie DIedam
So, that was it! I hope you had an instant urge to stroll in this neighbourhood, or that you at least enjoyed the illustrations!



Museum Hopping in Berlin

Jackie Diedam berlin-museumhopping

I’ve been to Berlin several times in the last 5 years, even had a internship during a winter in a communication company, but I had never been to the Museum Island. I used to catch a train that would pass right in front of it and it always made me think that I should go there but for some reason I never did. This was until now at my last trip to Berlin! I thought I show you what I did and where I went.

Museum für Naturkunde ( Natural History Museum ) jackiediedam-naturalhistorymuseum-berlin

I will already say that I know the Natural History Museum is not part of the Museum Island, but if was the first one I went. All I knew is that they had a T-Rex fossil, and besides that I was pretty oblivious. The entrance area is amazing, there they have skeletons of three other dinosaurs: a Brachiosaurus, a Kentrosaurus, and a Elaphrosaurus. The light is very dreamy and almost how I pictured a real life Jurassic Park entrance to look like. The T-Rex room was a bit disappointing for me: the walls were black and dark with dramatic lighting, really going for the scary Hollywood cliché. Also, the darkness made it hard for me to sketch.

In general the rooms in this museums are really well curated. They have a permanent exhibition of precious and semi-precious rocks that is really stunning. When I was there, they were putting up a temporary exhibition of calligraphy that also seemed beautiful even before it was all finished. If you have the time also see the taxidermy collection that is incredible and really well presented.

Pergamon Museum

Right after the N.H.M. I went over to the Museum Island thinking of going to the Alte National Galerie, which was closed. With so many museums around I just went for my second option, the Pergamon Museum even though it had a 1 hour waiting line. The Pergamon Museum was going through renovations on some of their best halls, but I still saw many of their artefacts in the other rooms. Besides the Babylon Gates that were really stunning, and the amazing works with floor tiles and ceramics, I was not that excited about it. I think I will go back whenever they are completely open again and see if I change my mind.

Alte National Galerie


All the feels for this one! If you love Romantic and Impressionist oil paintings, landscapes, portraits, and sculptures, this place is heaven. It also helps that the whole mood of the building seems like out of a Wes Anderson movie. Take a special look at their shop on the way out, they have really nice posters and postcards from the artworks exhibited. Also, their ceilings are stunning too!


berlin-jackie-sketching Alte National Galerie Berlin


Neues Museum


I went specifically to see the Nefertiti bust, but ended up really enjoying the other exhibitions as well. A lot of Ancient Egypt art, thumb stones, sculptures and artefacts that are really well curated and presented. Really loved wandering around, and I definitely took much more time than I expected. The Nefertiti room was very beautiful, but no photos allowed ( for obvious reasons ), so I took my time and did a small sketch of the scene.

I didn’t have the time to go to the other museum in the island this time, the Altes Museum, or to visit the Cathedral of Berlin, but this will hopefully be done on the next travel.


Overall, if have to choose only one museum inside the island I would probably go for the Alte National Galerie but it really makes sense to do more than one in the same day ( there are special and cheaper tickets in this occasion ). Plus, leave some time to wander around the buildings, there are lovely parks, walkways and a beautiful fountain for whenever you need some fresh air.

jackie diedam Berlin-museum-map-print

If you liked the Berlin Map I did to illustrate this post, you can get it on my online shop

Custom works

Golden girl

Custom portrait

I love doing special pieces that will became prized possessions or to put in paper someone’s memory.
This custom portrait was commissioned as a birthday gift for a dear client’s childhood best friend. I was told that this friend was a gorgeous woman, with amazing highlighted hair and with a love for shoes, beauty and fashion.

Instead of making her simply standing or posing, I wanted the illustration to tell a small story and to fit her lifestyle in a delicate way. After a few drafts I came up with the idea of having her friend, trying on shoes from the brands she loves. The colours should be soft and the styles classic. She wears a chambray dress and sits in a mint and gold Louis XV chair, with a striped pillow in a neutral shade.

As I write this first post on my blog I actually just came back from a 10 day vacation in Italy, and I am preparing my commission calendar for October, and also organizing files of the last month’s works for my portfolio. If you are a beginner illustrator, I have a tip for you: Always scan your works or make sure you have decent photos of the final piece before shipping! I’ve forgotten to do it for some pieces in the last month, and now I will have to either politely ask for people to send me a photo of the framed work ( which is never a good thing, it’s better when your clients send it to you because they want you to see it) , or to let it go and learn my lesson.

Have a great Sunday, and thank you for reading!