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Inspired by | Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Hi there! It’s the 10th today, and I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by for you!

The theme this time is… Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood.

Het stenen matras

I read the Dutch translation, which I found in my local library. As the English title suggests, there are nine stories in the book. The first three stories are connected, and that confused me, as I was expecting stories, and then it seemed like I was reading chapters instead.

I’m not a massive fan of bundled stories. I prefer a longer, more in-depth story that I can’t wait to get back to when I have more time to read. With stories, you have to start over again and again and again.

I didn’t like all of the stories in this book, but I did enjoy most of them. The characters are dark, strange, evil, revengeful and a bit crazy.

Whilst I was reading, I kept seeing scenes that made me wish I was an illustrator: the indigo and emerald bees of Alphinland in the first story, the twins in the third story or the contents of a storage facility in the fifth one.

The project

The bees kept popping back into my head, so I decided to try and draw those. Which was even harder than I imagined, but it was nevertheless a fun exercise.

I used Derwent Inktense pencils to sketch and colour with. They are water-soluble, but permanent once dry, so I could work in several layers.

I also used red watercolour for the background, a black permanent fineliner for the outlines and a white Stabilo All to write.

I finish the page with gold and bronze ink splatters. They represent the tears of the lady that is connected to the long black hair.


It took a long time before I felt like this page was presentable. Watercolour skills have been on my wishlist for far too long. Drawing skills too ;-). Maybe that’s something I can work on in the new year.

Of course, I’m also bothered by the colours of the bees in the middle panel. The blue one should have been green and vice versa. But I realised too late, and because I sketched with coloured pencils, there was no turning back. Which is fine. Life is too short to fret over sketchbook pages!

Be sure to check out what Riikka has made this month on her blog Paperiliitin. I’ve already seen a glimpse, and I love it!

Take care and have a wonderful week!

Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material), and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.

We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th when we show you and each other our creations.

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