I started reading ‘The diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate self-portrait, introduction by Carlos Fuentes’. I found it extremely interesting looking at her drawings and her writing in her sketchbook/ diary.

When I tried to make “Frida Kahlo”- inspired sketchbook entries, her sketchbook inspired me to ‘let go’ and to be more messy/ free and to embrace mistakes. I’ve learnt to express my personal emotions in my sketchbook and to be more free in putting myself into it. Not thinking about the product, but embracing the process of self- expression.I love the way the artist hides content, by writing over it in different colours. The way she uses mistakes to create something else.

Things I’ve learnt from her and will incorporate in my own sketchbooks in the future: making lists; creating poems; writing over other writing using different colours; experimenting with different ideas and colours; using my sketchbook to reflect on life; to express my emotions and my reality, not only my dreams; it’s ok to be different; love and celebrate who you are and where you’re from.


I used my moleskine A4 sketchbook for my artist research inspired “experiments”. I tried to write a personal poem inspired by her example from pg.5, a combination of words expressing my personal thoughts & feelings:

“Ocean – miss – nature – far away – my thoughts – lost – my heart – forever floating – sleep – my dreams – exhausting – never ending – forever real – waiting – questions – no answers – hope – love – maybe – belong – future – uncertain – sometimes – lost – inside mind – want – need – somewhere – home – life – celebrate – occasionally – happy – daydreaming – forever – come back – reality – dreams


Only now is real”

I really liked the method of writing over my own writing using different colours. I experimented with the method by using the lyrics of 2 songs I wrote in the past. I used watercolour paint splashes over it to create a more messy and free effect.

I wrote the following Afrikaans lyrics while I was living abroad for the first time at the age of 22. I was living and working in Taiwan. As I was daily riding my scooter through the crazy busy streets of Tao Yuan on the way to work & back, I was missing home, the Southern point.. ‘my ocean’.

Die Suidepunt:

“Die Suidepunt roep my baby

die Suidepunt roep my baby

ek mis die osean,

Ek mis dit om langs die see te staan

Hy roep my op my naam deur die wind

Kom na my en vind jou inner kind

laat jou skadu jou volg deur die wind, baby

Daar waar die ooste en weste ontmoet

Daar waar ons mekaar in ons drome moet groet

Ver verby daai punt, tot hier by my

As die somer en winter handjies vashou

Lente begin, en ek is by jou

Om Saam met jou in tyd stil te staan

Sodat hierdie gevoel nooit vergaan, baby

Die Suidepunt roep my baby

Die Suidepunt roep my baby

Ek mis die oseaan

Ek mis dit om langs die see te staan”

While living overseas for the first time, I had a lot of time to reflect on life and how I felt. At times I felt depressed and imagined the waves crashing over me.. pushing me under, wondering whether the ocean knows if I’ll make it. At the time, I was wondering about the future, love and survival.. a time when I felt lost.

Die branders breek oor my:

”Die branders breek oor my en druk my onder

ek moet baklei om bo te bly en maak dit net-net wonder bo wonder

en ek weet nie of ek dit gaan maak,

die golwe stel sy saak

miskien weet die see wat die lewe my gaan gee, miskien-miskien

miskien weet die see of ek jou weer sal sien, miskien-miskien

en ek weet nie of ek dit gaan maak, die golwe stel sy saak

Die branders breek oor my en druk my onder

ek moet baklei om bo the bly en maak dit net-net wonder bo wonder

en ek weet nie of ek dit gaan maak,

die golwe stel sy saak“

I grew up in an old fishing village. As the years passed by, there were fewer and fewer of the old legendary fishermen left. When I was little, they used to gather on the ‘koppie’ (a little hill) overlooking the harbour and the ocean. Endless amounts of fishing tales and stories about the sea were shared here. I used to sit in the car, overlooking the ocean, while listening to them talk to my Dad outside the car. So many stories that will remain untold and lost to the future generation. I feel fortunate to have captured those memories, listening to stories about ghost ships, shipwrecks, chests washing up on the shore, imagining life as it used to be, living through their eyes, memories and past lives.

My dad’s boat was named, ‘Zaniter’. My mum combined all of our names to create it: ‘Za’ For Izak (my dad and brother); ‘an’ for Jan (my brother); ‘ni’ for Juanita (my mum and my name); ‘ter’ For Pieter (my brother). The name ‘Zaniter” features on most boats that show up in my doodles. I wrote the following song lyrics while thinking about my dad being ill and how Zaniter will no longer be at sea with my dad as skipper.


”Zaniter- Zaniter, die vis loop en byt

Zaniter-Zaniter, al wat ‘n boot is, is uit..

kry jou boot op die water uit

want dit gaan lekker op die kaai,

die kaai hier in die hawe van Gansbaai

vanaand gaan Ernie’s praat en dan word dit laat

lieg so bietjie hier en ‘guy’ so bietjie daar, almal deurmekaar

Zaniter-Zaniter, die vis loop en byt

Zaniter-Zaniter kry jou boot op die water uit

Die manne praat op die koppie en lieg mekaar uit hul vissersokkies

want dit gaan lekker op die kaai

die kaai in die hawe van Gansbaai

Zaniter- Zaniter, die vis loop en byt

Zaniter-Zaniter al wat ‘n boot is is uit, kry jou boot op die water uit.”

Along with these lyrics, on the page next to it, I was inspired by one of the artists’ sketchbook entries on pg.50, the page covered in circles and faces. I created my own version of it by including the faces of fishermen, eyes and ocean doodles. I used watercolour paint to make splashes over it.

On the next page, I was inspired by one of the artists’ entries on pg.52, I tried to create a page filled with overlapping faces. I added splashes of watercolour paint in green and blue. In the end I didn’t like the outcome, so painted circles over it, with some eyes peeking through.


I was inspired by Frida Kahlo’s flowers in her hair. I used oil pastels to draw proteas (the national flower of South Africa). I then used micron pen and Koi watercolour paint to create an illustration of a girl with proteas in her hair.

In my mixed media art journal, I included illustrations using pen and flowers painted using acrylic and watercolour paint. I glue and stuck them on pages covered with watercolour splashes.

In my other A4 illustrations sketchbook, I created some Frida Kahlo inspired illustrations using a combination of collage and doodles by pen. I printed out pictures of Frida Kahlo found on Pinterest. I used photographs I took of the sky as background and drew some wings for her on white paper. I added some wildflowers at the bottom of the pages and 2 of my favourite Frida Kahlo quotes.

On the next page, I used half of a printed out photograph of Frida Kahlo’s face and drew on the other side using micron pen. Decorating her hair with a collage of flowers. I then moved on to draw a cartoon version of the artist, although in hindsight unfortunately the cartoon looks more like the Mr.Bean character, than the artist. I added colour using koi colouring brush pens.

On the following pages, I used another photograph of the sky as background and incorporated the poem I wrote in my Moleskine sketchbook previously, using a white gelly roll sakura pen. I added half of a photograph of my face and drew on the other side, and added flowers to my hair as inspired by the artist. On the page next to it, I was inspired by the circle experiment I made in my moleskine sketchbook, inspired by the artists’ sketchbook. I added a page full of circles with a collage of flowers, flower doodles, sky background with words from my poem, as well as a cut-out of Frida Kahlo’s face looking over at my photograph on the other page.

NAME: Juanita du Toit


COURSE: Illustration 1: Illustration Sketchbooks

The Open College of the Arts (University for the Creative Arts)

One thought on “RESEARCH TASK 1.1.1: FRIDA KAHLO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s