Everyday Matters Challenge #100: Draw/paint a landscape. Typical dutch countryside.
It’s been a long time since I last updated this blog. And in the last 6 months or so, many things have happened in my life. First, the last drawings I did.
I realized a long time ago, that I was not happy with what I did. I kept rambling about it to many people, but I did not taken any steps to really change it until 2 months ago. My job didn’t hold any meaning anymore. Everything seemed to be superficial and I am not really excited about the field as in the past. So I have decided that it is time to find out what really matters, what will give me emotional reward and contentment in the end.
In early June, we went on holiday to Paris for a week. I made only 3 sketches while I was there, unfortunately. This holiday was more like a food therapy holiday for us and also some soul searching for me. We discussed lots of things about where I want to go, how do I go from here, etc.etc. We came back 3 kg heavier because of all the delicious food we ate and I found my answer.
Back at home, I enrolled myself in a local university and have gotten a response. I need to do 2 courses (chemistry + biology) and do the exams before I can start on the study I want to do. Not a strange decision from them, seeing that I didn’t do lots of chem of bio at my old university. Then I enrolled myself in the chemistry course and wrote my resignation letter.
The chemistry course, which started a month ago, has been really keeping me busy almost full time. Homework..homework..and homework. It is afterall an intensive course. However, I didn’t realised that chemistry is actually really fun to learn. The downside is that it really leaves me with almost no time to draw or blog. Internet has become a luxury to me. But I have no intention of stopping with drawing/sketching!
I joined the Worldwide Sketch Crawl yesterday from Den Bosch (‘s Hertogenbosch). Den Bosch is located south of Utrecht and only 30 minutes by train. It was still quite cold yesterday, but the sun did show up in the afternoon. I think, everybody must have checked the weather channel the day before just to make sure the weather would co-operate. Loads of domestic tourists were there to explore the city by foot or by boat. One can go around (under) the city by boat, see sketch #2 below. So may be I’ll do that the next time I am there and I think a boat ride around (and under) Den Bosch at night time will be very cool! Click on images to enlarge.
1. Uilenburgstraatje, Den Bosch. A corner of ther street.
2. Uilenburgstraatje, Den bosch. Another corner of the same street.
4. Station Den Bosch. A person on another platform has had a great shopping day.
5. In the train on the way back, Den Bosch – Utrecht. A fellow passenger.
Easter weekend is always a long weekend. Today is Good Friday. And although it is not a national/bank holiday in Holland, my office is closed anyway. Then Monday is 2nd day of Easter, which is a national/bank holiday. After checking on the internet on how the weather would be in the rest of the country today, I decided to go to Den Haag (the Hague). They said that this afternoon it would be sunny there, and they were right. It was a beautiful day just to be outside. While sitting on a terrace of a cafe and waiting for my lunch to be served, I drew this church ‘de Grote Kerk’ which is located right across where I sat.
I bought ‘the artist’ magazine march 2006 edition (UK) this past weekend. In the magazine, there is an article by John Lidzey on ‘How to build up a subject from cuttings and photographs’. It was a very inspiring article, and no wonder they put it under the chapter ‘Inspiration’. It tells you how to do a painting from various resources: photos, newspaper clippings, reference book, etc. You isolate the relevant subject(s) from each source and put them together in one painting. So it is similar to photo montage. I was so inspired by this that I decided to experiment. But instead of making a (real) painting, I did a sketch (typical me). I loved it! The technique and process certainly give new possibilities.
So here is my first try, based on several sources. And it got my imagination going, a nice side effect. This could be:
- my next vacation destination, with me reading a newspaper under the sun.
- my villa somewhere in Southern Europe (if I get to be filthy rich), with me reading the Wall Street Journal (oops, de Telegraaf)…
Yay! I have been using a brand new sketchbook since last week. And I am loving. The texture of the paper is slightly rough (handmade paper) and it absorbs watercolor fairly well. I absolutely love the graphic on the cover and the inside flap.
The printing on the front cover (top image) shows a map of 17th century city of Utrecht. The inside flap (bottom image) shows a map of 17th century Utrecht and its neighboring towns/villages. I just love old maps.
After I drank a cup of cappuccino from HEMA, I drew this while sitting at one of their tables. It was busy there, but I was fortunate enough to get a table right beside the window. Therefore I could sketch the view across HEMA on Oude Gracht. It was sunny but really cold. The coffee really helped.
Below are my last sketches of Barcelona. It’s unfortunate that I am in my ‘doom’ period right now (see previous post), so I don’t feel like writing the story behind each sketch. My ‘doom’ period just got worst today, I think, when I thought it was getting better yesterday. Therefore, I don’t really feel like drawing or do any Blind Contour for tomorrow. I just hope that I will snap out of this not-so-fine time by Wednesday, next week. That way I might be able to enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner at the Hilton on next Thursday night. If not, well it’s just bad luck this year!
Restaurant l’Economic, BCN. 3 course meal (lunch) incl. a caraf of wine for only 8 euros per person. You can’t get it any cheaper than this! The portion is generous, but the quality matches the price.
I might apply watercolor on the two pen en ink sketch above. Those two are crying for some colors, I think. I’ll do it when I have more time.
Yesterday was a busy day in Utrecht. Sinterklaas was coming to town. I saw a few kids with black painted faces and dressed as Zwarte Piet (black Pete) walked beside their mom to go the event. Other people were already busy shopping for gifts for 5th December. I was busy shopping too. I needed a new coat, had to go to Bigoli (a wonderful store that sells Italian food products), and needed to shop at Toko Centraal (a store that sells asian produce and other products. These two stores carry ingredients for making Pastitsio and ayam Magadip, that I made this weekend.
In between shopping, I stopped to sketch this building on Oude Gracht, on the corner of Bakkerstraat. It was pretty cold to just stand and sketch. The day was quite grey, but luckily it stayed dry.
I can’t believe that it has been a month since my wonderful holiday in Barcelona. And I am still not finished with my holiday story. I have been quite busy lately and haven’t been drawing as much as I’d like. But I think I just have to finish it a.s.ap. before my memory fails me. So here we go…
This is my sketch of Bar Salvador. We went there to get some breakfast on that Friday morning. It was our last ‘full’ day and we would like to use it to explore the old center. Yes we had been sort of walking around the old center everyday, but we had not really looked. So we started the day by visiting this bar, which we found out from ‘The Rough Guide’. Eventhough it is called a bar, it opens actually only from morning to late afternoon. It is not a place for late night drinking. But not to worry, they do live up to their name. Inside they have enough supplies of alcohol to last for months. It was an amazing experience. However, don’t really expect to be able to get what you want to eat here. There is not really a menu. We noticed that they had only one tiny green board on the wall with a very limited list of (what we suspected) food/sandwiches. Everybody knew what they wanted to order without the help of any menu. Now, we didn’t know what to order; we couldn’t understand the list; we asked but staff do not speak english. I decided to order what I had two days earlier from Cafe Dakmar. I remembered some words, told the waiter, and then it was just wait and see what I was getting. Well, I apperently communicated my order well. I got pretty much the same yummy sandwich.
Between sketching (with pen & ink only, watercolored later), sipping my cappuccino, and eating my sandwich, I did notice the whole space. We were the only obvious foreigners. We were drinking coffee/cappuccino, while the rest were having wine, cava, or even whisky with their breakfast at 10:30 a.m! Just fascinating. My only question was: would they be more productive and creative at work after breakfast with some alcohol?
NOTE: Click on the images for larger views
Since we saw almost everything by then, we decided that going out of town would be a good idea. We wanted to see the landscape outside Barcelona. According to our guide books, we had a few choices for a day trip. Montserrat was the closest one and it looked the most spectacular on pictures. The train ride to a regular train station closest to the monastery took about an hour. From there, we could go take the cable car (hanging high above the villages and rocky landscape, going straight to the monastery) or the so called ‘rack rail’ (zigzaging through the rocky landscape and along the rock formation).
We chose to go with the rack rail. It was spectacular.
Once we arrived on the square outside the monastery, we explored a bit and I made two sketches in pencil. I was not used to drawing landscape (I’m still not). I had never drawn huge rock formation before. They proved to be really tough to draw. It might have helped if I didn’t focus too much on the rocks (the form, shading, etc). The amount of shades and shadows sort of got me confused in the end.
After these two sketches, we took the ‘furnicular’ (a cable car a la San Francisco, which rides at about 45 degree angle – or may even be steeper) to go to this point called Sant Joan. This point is located at an even higher altitude than the monastery. It was an amazing trip and it got even better, because from this point one can go to an even higher one by foot. Visitors can go explore the area, go back down to the monastery (by foot), follow several foot paths to go to other viewing places. Some paths looked quiet tricky to follow if one do not have any hiking gear with them. We weren’t about to take that risk (we aren’t really that adventurous). So we took the simplest and shortest one. This led to a house which was abandoned. We took a peek inside and were quite disgusted by what we saw. It was a complete mess. So messy that I suddenly got creeps and started thinking that any moment I would see a hand or leg peeking out of the mount of trash. I clearly watch too much Crime Scene Investigation.
After that we went back to the furnicular station and went back down to the monastery to explore the place a bit more. We needed to get something to eat too.
The monastery has actually everything: a hotel, a bakery/pattiserrie, a souvenir store, a cafe and a restaurant. In the restaurant, I got myself a drink called Aroma de Montserrrat. It was just to satisfy my curiousity. The drink turned out to be super sweet and smelled like rubber (very high alcohol content). I couldn’t make myself to drink it, but I did feel a lot warmer, which was a good thing!. The temperature in Montserrat was colder than we expected (a lot lower than in BCN), and I didn’t bring my jacket. Still, it was one spectacular trip! Glad that we did it.
Day 5 – 06.10.05
Here is a sketch of the front door (complete with the graffiti on it) of our apartment in BCN. I quickly drew this (in pencil) that morning before going to Montserrat. The street cleaner and the garbage bags are drawn from a combination of memory and imagination, since these city’s employees cleaned our street late at night (not in the morning) and the trash were put out in the evening. It was really annoying, but also amazing at the same time that these people clean the street so late and every night. I can’t imagine that being done in my own neigborhood here in Holland. The whole neighbourhood would storm the city hall immediately to protest. I still don’t understand how my Barcelonian neighbors upstairs and on the right of our apartment could/can stand the noise every night. We couldn’t really sleep through this. We could hear everything because our bedroom was one floor above the entrance but right behind the two small windows (shown on sketch). The street was a little quieter in the mornings. But we had to get up by then, grab some breakfast, and continue our sightseeing.
Cafe Dakmar on Travessera de Dalt, 77 Barcelona serves yummy sandwiches. The visit to Parc Guell left us hungry. Getting lunch inside the was not really an option. The cafes in the park served limited choice of sandwiches that didn’t look very good. So we opted for going downhill back to the busy Travessera de Dalt and we found Cafe Dakmar. The owner was very friendly and it seems like a family business. They served our sandwiches pretty quick and they were incredibly yummy. It was very satisfying. I told myself that I should try to make the same sandwich at home. It didn’t look very difficult to make. But I realized that I would not be able to find the same kind of delicious sausage at home.
After lunch, we just went back to town.
It is actually located right in the middle of a residential area up the hill. The entrance is slightly hidden from the main road. The park does not charge visitors anything, if they just look around. It will cost them a few euros for an audio tour. We had enough of audio tour by now, so we decided to just look around. We started from the bottom, went up the stairs that led us to the Room of a Hundred Columns and just continued up hill. We sat down on the famous snake-like bench, which is located right on top of the Room. This bench is actually the edge of the Room’s (flat) roof. Eventhough it was not a comfy bench to sit on, it was really a great place to enjoy the sunshine and make a few sketches.
After this bench, there wasn’t actually anything to see up the hill. There is a house on top, but it was closed for visitors. As we continued to the other side of the park (down the hill), we found another house, the Casa Museu Gaudi (see sketch). It was originally Gaudi’s house, but I read that he didn’t design it. It does look quite ‘normal’. His assistant, Francesc Berenguer, designed the building. It is really a lovely building. Although pink is not really my favorite color, I kind of like the colors of the house; the effect of the pinkish walls versus the green roof and wooden shutters.
The yellow dots on the pointy roof of the small tower make it look like (I think) Merlin’s hat. But I can’t remember whether his hat has some stars motive on it. This detail and other details of the building definitely give the building a ‘fairy tale’ quality, just like the others in Parc Guell.
We continued our journey downhill. We passed by some awesome porticoed stone pathway and ended up at the location of the snake-like bench again. At this point, we were asking ourself where the famous Gaudi’s dragon (a statue) is located. This dragon is the icon of the park, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. We saw a large empty patch of grass, and thought that the dragon was being repaired. Uhmm…may be not. We decided to go to the tourist info near the entrance of the park. The lady there pointed it out to us…”up there, can’t you see it?” Where? There! Well, well….it is snuggled right in the middle of the stairway leading up to the Room of a Hundred Columns! It is so small that we have missed it the first time, or at least it is actually a lot smaller than we expected! We were glad that we could see it in the end. It gave us a feeling like…now we’ve really been to Parc Guell.
Day 4 – 05.10.05
Another Gaudi day. This time our destination was Parc Guell. I didn’t visit this park 10 year ago, so it was also my first time.
Parc Guell is located a bit far from the old center. It took us a while to get there. From the metro stop, where we had to get out, we had to walk about 1 -1.5 km up the hill. The area right outside the metro stop was apperently turned into a HUGE construction site in order to change the infratructure. This caused a lot of confusion. Due to the lack of signage and the fact that the street was very messy, we went to the wrong direction at first. After a short walk, we realized we needed to turn around. While walking uphill, we saw another face of Barcelona. New/modern apartment blocks, some had banners hanging from their balconies. We wondered if the locals were objecting to the infrastructure around that area. I noticed that the traffic and the noise produced by it were much busier and higher than what I am used to.
We took the metro to go to Placa d’Espanya. When we got out of the underground station, we were surprised by the sight of (what was left of) the old Arena, which is was an old bullring. From what I read, the Arena is being converted into an entertainment complex/shopping center and will be called Plaza Arena. At this moment, nothing but the shell/facade of the building is left. Heavy new (temporary) structures under the facade are keeping it standing.
We continued walking in the direction of MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) with a short detour to the Pavilion of Mies van der Rohe. The MNAC building/palace is located on top of the hill. It was quite a trip to get up there. Once we reached the top, we could see BCN from the other side of the city. We went up there actually only for the view, not for the museum.
Then we were off to the Fundacio Joan Miro and to see the rest of Montjuic. It was unfortunate that the whole line of the teleferic cable car to the Castell de Montjuic was being repaired (or completely renewed). We could have walked uphill to the castle, but at that point we were only willing to go downhill. My legs were just about to give up…
After the market, we went to the direction of MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art). What we didn’t know was that MACBA was closed that day (Tuesday). So we just enjoyed a bit of sun on the square in front of the building, then continue our tour of the area. Not long after that, we saw a Starbucks, and decided to take a rest. We spent about a couple of hours here, just to relax while enjoying our Frappuccinos, observing what was happening outside on the busy street, drawing the interior of the shop. I think once we found out about Starbucks in BCN, we made a goal for the holiday: to drink as much Frappuccinos as possible before we had to go back home. There is no Starbucks in Holland, but the irony is…on the coffee packages, which Starbucks BCN sells, I found the text ‘Made in Holland’. I checked out packages from all types of Starbucks coffee (Kenya, Sumatra, etc), and I found the same thing. I don’t believe that the coffee itself is ‘made’ in Holland, since the country does not produce coffee beans. But the fact that the beans get roasted and packaged in this country really annoys me. When is Starbucks going to sell this ‘Made in Holland’ in Holland? Is it possible that they are afraid of Douwe Egberts…Or is it possible that Starbucks buys coffee beans from Douwe Egberts or Max Havelaar? Hmm..interesting thought…
Our next stop was the Boqueria market. The market is said to be a popular tourist attraction and I wondered why. We couldn’t see that from the outside, but once we stepped inside between the narrow aisles…The market was very cool! The most interesting one I’d been to till that moment. We could find fresh produce, fresh meat, varieties of sea food, even some insects. To me, some products which were being sold, were very ‘unique’, e.g. heads of an animal (young cow/goat/sheep?), some organs that I couldn’t name. I wondered what they do with those heads. For soup? I saw the biggest fish head (the body was missing), masks/faces (used to belong to cows/goats/sheeps?), other types of seafood that were new to me. Everything was fresh, some of the sea produce were still alive, e.g. clams, mussels, snails, etc. Rabbits, ducks, chickens, were skinned/cleaned but being sold whole. It was such a different market than what I am used to here. And the prices…we can’t get those produce at such low prices here. The fishes offered here are so dissapointingly small compared to what I saw at Boqueria. I wished I could move the whole market here…well, may be leave the heads, feet, some organs, the preserved scorpions, and insects behind .
NOTE: Click to enlarge.
Third day 04.10.05
We planned on visiting the other side of Las Ramblas (El Raval) and Montjuic. We started our day by having some breakfast at one of the pastry shops of the family Escriba on Las Ramblas. According the guidebooks, Escriba was the pastry/chocolate master of BCN, when he was still alive. I just had to taste their products. The shop has very lovely art-nouveau facades. On the Las Ramblas side, it has ‘Antigua Casa Figueras’ written on top of the entrance. I am not sure what the sign means and what it has to do with the pastry shop/family Escriba. May be the place was originally used for something other than a pastry shop? Anyway, the coffee was great, the pastry was wonderful too. I noticed that some other guests (locals) drank some kind of wine with their breakfast. I was tempted to get the same too, so that I could experience true local cuture/habit. But I decided that I didn’t want to risk an upset stomach during my holiday. It was still around 9.30 – 10 a.m., waaayy too early for me to have some alcoholic drink!
I brought two guide books with me to Barcelona. One from Time Out (TO) and another from The Rough Guide (TRG). TO is 100% in color, while TRG is black and white (and orange) with some color pictures. In the end, we used TRG. I really like how the book is organized; every chapter has a map related to the content of that chapter. While with TO, we had to flip back and forth between chapters and the only maps in the book (the last pages of the book). TRG was also quite useful for finding places to eat. That second night we picked Euskal Etxea, which TRG recommended. They serve Basque cuisine, and it is said that they serve good pintxos (Basque tapas). Despite all the hypes in Holland about tapas, we were and still are clueless about the custom of how to eat them, the do’s and don’t. When we got there, there were already lots of people (most likely local people) standing by the bar, which I found a bit intimidating. We didn’t know that was the part where they served the pintxos. Instead, Nor went straight to the back and picked a table (which was set). We ended up ordering a la carte. Nevertheless, their food was quite good and the price was quite reasonable. I had a hake fillet and clams in parsley and garlic sauce, which tasted wonderful. Nor had a roast leg of lamb. He thought it was ok, but not really that great. I was satisfied with my hake. We both think that the house wine was great.
NOTE: The image shows the business card from Euskal Etxea, which we have received at the end of our dinner.
There has been a lot of progress made in the construction of the Sagrada Familia for the last 10 years. I remember back then, that they managed to add part of the roof of the main nave to the original, which is built by Gaudi. Now the project team has added a lot more. Bravo! However, I could see that the additions do not have Gaudi’s touch. Not because that they are new, but because they are too systematic. Nothing is the same in the original design by Gaudi and the new additions carry too much of the same things. Of course it is cheaper when elements are standardized and a lot easier to construct. But, it is un-Gaudi.
Nor insisted that we took the stairs to go to the top of one of the towers. I insisted that we used the elevator that they installed fairly recently. I did go up to one of the lower towers 10 years ago (about 60-65m high) and they didn’t have elevators back then. And I knew that I would be puffing and fuming by the time we reached the top. But seeing the length of the queue for the elevator I though..what the heck. I needed some breaks a few times a long the way, but we managed to go up to the very top (about 75 m high). The view from the top was beautiful; we could see the whole Barcelona!
Going down was a bit trickier than going up. It might take less energy, but the narrow spiral staircase felt a bit more dangerous. It made me dizzy, which didn’t help at all. Despite my woozy head, we arrived on the ground floor safely and went out to look for somewhere to sit down. It was quite an exercise for our thighs and calfs, especially mine! While sitting down on a stone balustrade outside, I noticed this lovely lamp post across the street. Its design is a reflection of the top of the church’s towers. Barcelona is full with this kind of urban (design) details, lovely and elaborate at the same time. So I decided to sketch this one too.
According to what we read in the museum inside the church (basement), the church is expected to be finished by 2017. It’s now been more than 100 years. When it is really finished, I will want to visit it again.
Our next stop was La Pedrera. It is another building designed by Gaudi on Passeig de Gracia, about one block away from Casa Batllo. Again, this is another ‘organic’ building and very beautiful. However my favorite is still the Casa Batllo. It may be the colors, lots of cream or more neutral colors, that makes it just a tad less interesting.
We took the stairs to go up to the amazing attic on the 6th floor. The construction of the attic is just amazing. The attic houses a permanent exhibition on Gaudi’s work, which is also very interesting.
Then we went up to the roof top. It was really grand. Again we found beautiful chimneys. I have to admit that they look a bit like cake decoration. However, these chimneys are very unique. I drew one of the chimneys while sitting on a step, leaning against another one. It was a glorious sunny day…it made me wonder if the residents are allowed to hold a BBQ party on this lovely roof top…
On Passeig de Gracia, there is my favorite Gaudi building, the Casa Batllo. I think he has done one hell of a job on this one. Some people said that it looks a bit disney-ish. True, a bit. But I personally think it is much much better than that. I love the organic concept/theme that he applied. Every element looks like a representation of part(s) of animals or plants. All the curves on the window/door frames and handrails are very sensual.
During the tour inside the building I heard that he didn’t use any drawings to build it. His method was just be there right beside the contractor and gave them instruction on how things should look like. I can believe that. I bet that this whole thing would be difficult to draft. It was already difficult enough to sketch. However during the museum visit inside the Sagrada Familia, I read that people found his drawings of Casa Batllo that were archived in one of the local universities. Gaudi apparently forgot to clean up after an exhibition where he showed his project. I am not sure which one is right. For all I know, I might have gotten my facts wrong because I listened and read too much thing on one day. But he remains as someone/an architect that I admire.
Here is my sketch of the roof top of Casa Batllo. 10 years ago they didn’t let tourist to visit the roof. I am so glad that they did now. Those chimneys and the roof tiles are so beautiful. My sketch does not do the reality justice. The chimneys look like a cotton candy now, but before it got overworked it looked like an in-pastel-color dyed cowhide.
Right after we unpacked, we went out to explore the city. We started with the famous Las Ramblas. I have been there about 10 years ago and stayed in a hotel just off the boulevard back then. It all looked the same. The boulevard was just as packed as a decade ago, full of tourists. There are many human statues: silver ones, gold ones, a chiquita bananas lady version, so many variations. There are also lots of flower and magazine stalls. We started our exploration of Las Ramblas from Placa Catalunya and walked until the statue Mirador de Colon on the water front.
I am not good at drawing people especially groups of people who were actively in motion. Everything on Las Ramblas was a bit tough for me to draw because of the activities happening on the boulevard. So here is the only one I managed to draw (unfortunately). A some what squashed version of a fountain/lamp post.
Click to enlarge.
Hola! We just came back from our holiday in Barcelona yesterday. We spent 6 nights in BCN to be exact, from Sunday 02/10 to Saturday 08/10. We experience nice and less nice things during our stay. Altogether, it was quite a unique experience. Besides going to Barcelona, we had a chance to visit the monastery on top of the mountain in Montserrat. During these visits I made sketches of what I saw, what I experienced, what I ate… a bit of everything. I will post them in several parts, since they are a bit much to be in one post. Stay tuned!
Day 1 – 02.10.05: the flight
I ‘arranged’ our holiday myself, so we skipped travel agencies. I found out that this way we saved a bit of money (on services, etc), which we could better spend on other things. It certainly needed some patient, but I think it paid off. I booked us a flight with Transavia airline(www.transavia.com), which claimed to offer the best airfare in Holland (at least for flights from Amsterdam). True, it was and is. One drawback to get this airfare was either we flew very early or very late. We chose to fly very early and our neighbor lady kindly offered for her husband to take us to the airport. That was before the husband knew at what time he had to get up the morning we flew to BCN.
The night before the flight we got really nervous about the check-in process. One thing that made Transavia very economical is that passanger can check in via internet, choose their own seat, and print their own boarding pass at home 24 hours before the flight. I think this system is fantastic and I think now that it works really great. It was just our first time to check in this way without going through anybody at the check-in counter in the airport.
That Sunday we had to get up at 3.30 a.m. (including our neighbor too).We left at 4 a.m. and our flight was at 6.20 a.m. I didn’t get much sleep, because I was too excited. It was a bit surreal. At the airport, our fear about the check-in was in the end for nothing. It all went smoothly and we went directly to the gate with our print-out of boarding passes. We passed by queues of people, who had to go through the traditional check-in process, and thought wow, lucky us! We got on the plane, found our seats and enjoy the flight to Barcelona. It took only a bit less than 2 hours from Schiphol airport/Amsterdam. While on the Transavia plane, I made this sketch of the interior. It is slightly different than my usual sketches of public transport (train, tram, or metro).
Click to enlarge.
I was planning to go and do some drawings yesterday and today. But somehow I ended up in a wrestling match with my blog and the blogger template. I’d been wanting a new simpler template for quite sometime and yesterday I decided to do just that. Well…what I thought was a simple thing turned to be the complete opposite. In 2 days I’ve learned more HTML, PHP, and CSS stuffs than I wanted to. In the end I still had to almost manually do everything despite the claim from some resources that it can be done this way or that way. Since I did it in what I think the simplest direct way, I am pretty sure that this blog page source is quite primitive to some experts out there. But hey, when I looked for some help on the W3C website, I couldn’t find any. That’s because their website bores me to death and is very difficult to read for a non-geek reader. It was frustrating. Luckily, despite all the difficulties, I still managed to get it done my way and in a look that I like. After that I still needed to do some chores, which means that I couldn’t do any sketching. But…the cleaning gave great reward. I found my old Europe Study sketchbooks and journals. Looking back at my first drawings brought back wonderful memories. I have scanned several pencil sketches and I plan to do so with the inked journal entries.
The following sketches are only a selection of pencil sketches done in may/june/july 1996. They are in chronological order, starting with my very first pencil sketch of the Europe trip.
NOTE: Click to enlarge.
This is the first pencil sketch that I made on that trip. It is of Rue de Alexander in Versailles, France. The sketch was made on May 31, 1996. You can see that the lines are still very dark and there is almost no contrast or focus.
Chateau de Chambord, France in early June 1996. My professor helped me a bit with styling, contrast, and finding a focal point.
Petit Trianon’s Hamlet in Versailles, France. Sketch was made on June 14, 1996.
I am not sure where I made this. This seems to be out of sequence. It could be that I drew this as an exercise based on a pencil drawing technique book and following their examples. Sketch was made sometime in June 1996.
A church in Barcelona, Spain. Sometime in July 1996.
The Duomo, Florence, Italy. July 1996.
Somewhere in Rome. Sometime in July 1996. This is the last pencil sketch in my sketchbook for the Europe trip 1996.
I went to the Main Library of Utrecht yesterday. I needed to return a few books that I have borrowed for 3-4 months and to pay for them. I also borrowed 2 new books on watercolor technique (by John Lidzey) and drawing. I was so lucky that I did this, because I found out that the employee who has accepted the books I returned and my payment actually forgot to update the library financial database. At the moment I wanted to borrow the 2 books on the other side of the building, the same man was working at the check out counter. And he was about to charge me the amount of money I paid earlier again. The funny part was I didn’t remember him and he clearly didn’t remember me, and we both “talked” to each other an hour earlier. Talking about good memory! He kept asking me about to whom I gave the money. I could only say “I can’t remember, I honestly can’t remember, it was a guy”. Uhm how much money did you give him? One ten-euro bill. Hmm.. I seem to remember that I gave 4 euros change earlier to someone …hmmm that must have been me then…. I am sorry…I can’t remember either…Uhm no big deal, no problemo…(smile politely).
I left quietly and went to the floor below to get some coffee. I like the fact that the library has a coffee bar inside the building and allow people to drink coffee/thee while reading magazines, newspaper, or surfing the internet. Only on this special section where the coffee bar is located. So after buying a cup of coffee I picked a table, sat down and started drawing this. When I was nearly finished with the ink drawing, Nor called me on my mobile. While we were talking about the kitchen tiles (we need some more for our kitchen), a lady who was clearly an employee, stopped by my table and talked to me in a dissaproved tone (with me still on the phone) saying that I needed to get out because mobile phones and having a telephone conversation are forbidden inside the library. Well, thanks Nor! That was the first time I got kicked out of a place. I gulped down the last bit of coffee, went outside to call Nor back to thank him and to further discuss the kitchen tiles.
I joined the Sketch Crawl #4 last Friday, 27.08.05, from across the ocean (in Utrecht). This was my first sketch crawl, and I enjoyed it very much. I think I was really productive, despite the fact that I wandered off to the bookstore and some other interesting small stores for a while that day.
NOTE: Click on any of the images (including the map) for larger versions.
Here is the map that show where I have been that day.
A “warm up” exercise that I did while waiting for the tram to come. I was too early. I didn’t realize that before 9 am on Saturday, the tram only comes twice an hour and not 4 times. So I had to wait for around 20 minutes or so, and what better way to spend the time than start sketching? So I drew the plants that grow behind the platfrom on the other side. There are some orange poppies too. I have never seen orange poppies at another place other than along this platform. A couple of months ago, there were even more wild poppies (red ones) growing in that area. They were very pretty but now they are dead.
09:45 After I arrived in Utrecht, I got my morning coffee and breakfast first at the station Utrecht Centraal. The station was unbelievably crowded already on early Saturday morning. I was wondering what these people would do that early. After my tummy was satisfied with a large cup of cappuccino and a cappuccino croissant from Cafe T. I went in the direction of the old center and found a bench outside the Winkel van Sinkel (a restaurant/cafe) facing the Stadhuisbrug (a bridge) and the Dom tower. A terrific postcard style kind of view. I couldn’t let the chance to sketch slip away. So I just sat down and started sketching. When I was almost finished, an older man got off his bike and approached me to see what I was doing. He took a look and started chatting about how it was in the 1800′s-1900′s and when he was still at school. How drawing was a very important subject at school and in the society back then. At his drawing/art school in Maastricht about 50 some years ago (he mentioned that he is 72), he had to draw morning and afternoon. He thinks that schools in the Netherlands nowadays teaches students too little about the importance of drawing or almost none. No one really does drawing anymore, in his opinion. So he was glad to see me sit there and draw. Me too.
10:20 Then I walked a bit further down the street on Ganzenmarkt. I stopped beside the city hall (Stadhuis) and played with these two little kittens that belong to the Children Book Store (Kinderboekwinkel) across the street from where I was the standing. One of the kittens tried to climb up the tree, but decided that it was too scary. When they left, I sketched the houses across the City Hall square on the corner of Annastraat and Korte Minrebroederstraat. These houses are very lovely. They have the best view of the cool City Hall of Utrecht and I’d love to live in one of these houses. But too bad. Most of the old (and grand) houses in the city are usually reserved as student housing for the students of the University of Utrecht. Lucky them!
11:00 I walked across the square, admiring the City Hall, then walked down Annastraat. The houses on Annastraat nicely framed part of the new City Hall. So I decided to sketch it in ink. I really love the architecture of the building. It is one of my favorite modern architecture in the Netherlands. The Spanish architect Enric Miralles, who passed away several years ago, did such a fantastic job. He thought of everything to the detail. I love how he reused the stone window frames from medieval times to frame the new wooden window frames. Some of the old stone frames are supported by steel framing behind it, which makes them look “floating”. The building is new, the square is new, but they both look like they really belong to that area. Wonderful!
12:15 lunch I went to Bigoli on Schoutenstraat to buy a sandwich. Bigoli is such a fantastic store that sells superb italian sandwiches and produce. Anytime I need something “Italian” for in the kitchen, I always go there. This time I bought an olive sandwich bread with provolone, roasted vegetables, and parmaham filling. Yum…Yum…
13:00 Back to sketching again. After lunch I wandered around the Neude (a square) a bit. I found this charming port on a dead-end street called Hoogt. I have heard of a cinema/theatre called ‘t Hoogt in Utrecht, but I had never known the location. Now I found it and this port leads to a courtyard and the entrance of the theatre. But the building that is framed by this port is actually a super tiny and super charming museum (Kruideniersmuseum), that exhibits old tools, machines, and gadget that they used a long long time ago when the museum was still a grocery store. The entrance to the exhibition part is actually a candy shop. They keep it as original as possible. Which I think is fantastic! I bought some candies, then the older lady who works there weighted my purchase on a very old scale and calculated the total price on a tiny black board. I think calculator and anything digital are not allowed in this store.
14:00 Time to have my afternoon coffee, so I went to Brandmeester’s on the Korte Jansstraat. They sell quality coffee, thee, and also coffee/thee machines ranging from 10 euros (e.g. percolator) to 1000+ euros (e.g. Jura coffee machines). There was a line of people there, but I didn’t have to wait that long luckily. I had a cup of cappucino and then an ice cold hazelnut lattecino. The Brandmeester’s has only bar tables but not chairs. While standing by one of the tables and enjoying my cappuccino/lattecino, I sketched the view across the street from the Brandmeester’s. I will check out that building with lots of books next time. I was not sure if it is a store, because of the closed curtain behind the door. But it did/does display old (used) books. The building itself looks a bit run down but with a “character”.
15:30 Recharged by caffeine, I walked further down Korte Jansstraat in the direction of the Dom church. I had been wanting to sketch the castle on behind the church on Achter de Dom (the street’s name) for quite a long time, but somehow something kept me from doing it. So during the sketch crawl day, I had the feeling that I had to do it then or would never do it at all if I keep on delaying it. I took a left turn and stood leaning against the wall of a building on Voetiusstraat facing the castle. I believe that the castle is actually an old part of the Dom, but now it is occupied by some departments of the University of Utrecht (just as most old buildings in the city). So now it is called Het Academie Gebouw (Academy Building).
16:00 Since I noticed the books across the street from the Brandmeester’s, I could not stop thinking about them. I am such a book addict (and also an art goodies addict). So I went to Broese, my favorite bookstore on Stadhuisbrug, and browsed their collection (as if it was any different than last week…). But hey, I found a book about Van Gogh’s early sketches. I am not a big fan of Van Gogh’s famous work, I am much more into “older” painters like Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Johannes Vermeer, and Jeroen (Hieronymus) Bosch, but I admit I like his early sketches especially the ones done in ink.
17:00 After the bookstore visit, I decided to go home. It was already 5 pm anyway, not to mentioned that I needed to cook dinner. While waiting for the tram on Moreelsepark, I sketched the view across the platform (sort of becoming a habit of me…). The area and the building (Hoog Catharijne) are not very nice, but I decided to give it a try anyway. Well…I believe, my sketch turned out to be a lot better than the reality and a whole lot cleaner…(my prerogative as an artist to left out the trash from my sketchbook).
Inspired by Amanda’s map on Craftmonkeys, I drew this map of Amsterdam to show the locations I have been to on Aug. 05, 2005. Once I got off the tram, I went everywhere by foot.
Note: For those who do not know, the vertical triple-X is actually the logo of the city of Amsterdam.
The Amsterdam Historical Museum is actually quite big, but not as big as the Rijksmuseum. The building the museum occupies consists actually of several smaller buildings. It used to be separate houses, which are now connected to each other from the inside. After I finished going through the City Animals exhibition pieces, I felt quite tired and did not feel like going on to the next exhibitions that the museum were holding: the history of Amsterdam (permanent collection) and the Tattoos. I was very much interested in visiting “The history of Amsterdam” and I think it is a “must see” exhibition, however I decided to keep it for next time. But I still wanted to just browse the rest of the museum.
So I went through a door and was surprised that I was standing on an indoor bridge on the first floor. On one side, the bridge overlooks a beautifull hall that houses some supersize paintings that are part of the history of Amsterdam collection and on another side it overlooks an old street: Gedempte Begijnensloot. Despite the rainy weather, the view from the bridge was beautiful, that I decided to draw it…
While digging through a pile of stuffs, I found my old Europe sketches that I did during my study. These ones are from summer 1997, and pre-scanner/blogging time. Scanner might have existed back then, but I did not have one. So I looked at them again carefully, and was surprised that I had done all these sketches. Now I just need to really practice again, to be able to make city sketches of the same level.
It was sunny today, a rarity in Holland. So I just had to go outside and enjoy the sun before the somber and grey weather comes back in over two days…
I went to Utrecht, did a little shopping, and then I decided to have lunch at a restaurant on the wharf of Oude Gracht (old canal). I picked out Il Pozzo, since they have tables and seats outside. I felt like eating italian too. So I went down to the wharf, picked a table, and ordered a beer and insalata di caprese. While waiting for my lunch I sketched the view in front of me right across the canal.
When I ordered the insalata di caprese, I thought that I would get some classic italian salad of sliced tomatoes, whole basil leaves, and sliced mozarella. How dissapointed I was when the salad arrived. It was dutch italian salad! Yes, it still had some sliced tomatoes (didn’t look that fresh), cut up mozarella (really small, some of them even melted a bit, not sure why), some basil (chopped up to the max, I could not really taste any ‘basil’ at all). But it also had a bit too much salt, orange slices, a few leaves of salad green (oak?), and a big mount of preserved carrot and radish. The preserved veggie looked suspiciously too familiar. It could have come from a jar from Albert Heijn (dutch supermarket). So no trace of the classic insalata di caprese at all there…I ate only the tomatoes and cheese. And I finished my lunch with a cup of capuccino.
For sure, I will not go back to Il Pozzo again for their salad. I still can’t believe that the salad costs 9 euros! Way overpriced!!!
Yesterday I went to visit the Keukenhof for the first time with several co-workers. All of us have never been to this park, also the one who was born in Holland.
The park was nice, but we were just to late in the season. We should have visited the Keukenhof sometime in the middle of April. Now they have chopped off the lots of the flowers’ head. So only the green stems and leafs were left. The flowers with their heads on had some kind of frost bite, so did not look very fresh either. The flower field was totally green; the heads have been cut too. Dissapointing!
I heard that every year they put different kind of flowers and the lay out will be different too. So I might go back next year and possibly rent a bike too to explore the surrounding area better.