Wasabi is a lot better and has also gained some weight. Though, she cannot go back to ‘normal’. Her CREA value is back to normal (a surprise!), but her UREA value is slightly higher than the previous test. We’re hoping that her UREA would go back to the normal range as well. But I guess that is too much to ask. One normal value is better than none.
(see the teeth marks on left bottom corner?)
Ok, so I forgot to put away (or just did not) this card last night. And before I get a chance to send this to Jan M at SP, my cat already took a bite of the card. I assume he or she disagreed with my idea to send it to the SP. And I assume it is one cat out of six who did this and I think Salami or Bacardi did it….Hmmm… may be I should compare the marks with their teeth?
A (note) card with graphite and color pencils. Such a difficult paper to work with. May be I should send this card to Jan M. at SP. After all their logo is a (flying) tomato.
It’s been 10 years since I took a figure drawing class. And I thought that it would be good to follow a figure drawing workshop this time. I made a call to day and (sort of) register myself to take the class. However, the instructor told me that she is still looking for 2 more students, before she will start the workshop on the scheduled date. I do hope she can get them.
My answer to EDM Challenge #48 – something that represents my new year’s resolution. Enjoy the moment, enjoy life. A small plate of milner cheese and a cup of decaf Illy coffee for the evening….mmmmm…..
People at the internet cafe in the Main Library.
New Year = New Resolutions? I think I’ll keep it very simple this year. I could not keep up with last year’s resolutions due to some changes in my life and career (excuses…excuses). Anyway, my resolutions for 2007 will be:
- Keep sketching, drawing, painting, doodling….
- Keep it fun and enjoy the process…
- Relax, loosen up, enjoy life (life is short)…
- Less perfect is more!
- Spoil the cats more (their life is shorter…)
A short recap of 2006: Although there have been major changes in my life and mostly my career, 2006 was still a good year for me. I decided that I wanted to do more; do stuffs that have more meaning for me and my life. So I quit my job back in august/september and have been preparing my self for the study of Veterinary Medicine by following required courses for the enrollment. I passed the Chemistry exam in November and the Biology course will start next week. In the mean time I also do a little freelancing as architect/designer on the side. And I can combine all of these with my other hobbies: cats, cooking and sketching! At this moment, my life just could not get any better! Happy New Year to all!
I was planning to use these apples to make apple chips following a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres cookbook. However the baking including preparation time needed is about 3 hours. I got demotivated after only reading the recipe and they ended up modeling for me for this particular EDM Challenge (#91).
We celebrated xmas at the Okura hotel, Amsterdam, yesterday. We dined at their restaurant ‘Yamazato’ and the food was wonderfully delicious! They used origami birdies as part of the presentation, and we got them as souvenirs. We will surely go back for more fantastic food.
The dog is preserved and stuffed. He guards the entrance to the exhibition spaces faithfully. Contrary to the usual sign of ‘Niet aanraken (Don’t Touch)’, he has a sign that says ‘Ik mag geaaid worden (I may be petted)’, which encourages kids to touch him. I touched him to for a second. The coat felt real but it gave me a strange feeling, which I could not explain. May be the fact that it did not react to my touch and the lack of warmth. Petting a static stuffed dog felt certainly different than petting my neighbor’s always drooling dog (a real sign of life). Conclusion: Life really makes a difference.
I spent a day at the Natural History Museum (Naturalis) in Leiden last Friday. I used the visit to make many small sketches of preserved animals and plants. I considered it as a preparation before going to a zoo. The animals at Naturalis are as real as those in the zoo, only they are dead and therefore, static. It was a good exercise. And I think, I like the challenge of sketching different animals within a short period. The variation is refreshing. This summer, I’ll visit one of the zoo and see how I deal with moving animals other than my cats.
In my fight against cold, I use the following medicines. I really have no idea if they actually work or not. Because the last time I went to a doctor over here, he said that there is actually no cure against cold. Just take enough rest. What they sell in the market, is just an illusion. Yes, I still buy that illusion and I just wish that they find the real thing against the ‘simple’ rhino virus.
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.
After La Pedrera, we decided to go to La Sagrada Familia by way of Rosello. There is this art supply store called Barna Art located on Rosello, which I wanted to visit. Too bad, when we got there it was time for siesta, so the store was closed. We weren’t used to this siesta thing and store opening times yet. But I decided that we could go back to the store after the visit to Sagrada Familia. We continued till we reached Passeig de Sant Joan, which is a boulevard with a strip of green and pedestrian section in the middle. We sat on one of the bench and gave our feet and legs a rest. It was a long walk. I sketched these people around us: a woman who was calling and then read a book while laying/sunbathing on the grass, a tourist who was making pictures, a dove in front of, etc. I used a pencil and then watercolored it on site. I didn’t and still don’t really like the result, though. I think it is a bit too pale. May be I should have used a darker/softer pencil or just pressed harder. Or may be I am just too used to ink in combination with watercolor. It usually gives sharper result, which I like. Off to the Sagrada Familia …
Click to enlarge.
This is an entry for Everyday Matters Challenge #31, a collection. I don’t think that cats can be categorized as a collection, but other things that I “collect” fit other challenges better e.g. books. I really don’t have a unique collection in my house. So I thought, well, I have 8 cats and they are all precious to me…so why not?
What you see is a drawing of 6 out of my 8 cats. The other 2 did not fit on the page of my sketchbook, so I stopped at #6. I did this sketch this afternoon, and as you can see, they were all sleeping in various position. Hey, it now fits the edm challenge better! A collection of cat sleeping positions sketch!
A little about my cats…Gurami and Salami are our very first cats. They are sisters and when we got them we came up with names based on food. We were (and still are) so obsessed with food. Our 1st to 6th cats are regular house cats; they are all females and have names based on food. The 7th and 8th are with pedigree; they are males (not quite anymore) and their names are based on liquor.
1. Gurami – a type of Indonesian fish
2. Salami – the popular Italian sausage
3. Wasabi – the green Japanese horseradish sauce
4. Liekamki (nick: red) – popular brand of Chinese sauces Lee Kum Kee. We changed the spelling for fun and it’s easier for the Vet.
5. Koolrabi (nick: kool) – a type of Dutch root vegetable.
6. Pirojzki – a type sausage bread from Russia/Eastern Europe
7. Bacardi (a ragdoll) – rum
8. Joseph Guy (a maine coon, nick: joey) – cognac
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.
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).
Well, I thought of submitting this drawing for the Everyday Matters Challenge #25, but it turned out that it is not exactly what the assignment says. I should have read the assignment more carefully. I drew this because I thought any object made of ‘glass’ would do. But I realized just now that it is supposed to be a ‘drinking’ glass. So I will need to search another ‘model’. This might take time. I am not sure.
Let’s talk about about food and drink then.
Ice cold beer is of course ‘delicious’ on hot summer days. And we think that it is also the best drink to go with most Asian food. It is the slightly bitter taste sometimes with just a tad of sweetness that makes beer sort of a ‘neutral’ partner to the heftily spiced asian food. Wine, on the other hand, does not always go well with ethnic food. I have read some articles about how to chose wine to go with Asian food. So it is possible to do that, and lots of Dutch do that too. However, I personally think that it is quite a tricky business, if you are not really a wine ‘expert’ (which we aren’t). The dutch drink wine to go with asian food, because it is sort of become a habit, which is learned from the French…’wine with (any) dinner’.
Chinese and Japanese food are both more neutral than South/S. East Asian food and pair better with wines. If you pick the wrong wine to go with your chinese cooking, it will probably be still ‘ok’. However, the safest choice of drink to go with any asian food, in my opinion, will be 1. water (of course!), 2. cold beer.
I find that beer and food from the same country of origin sort of complement one another. Chinese food and TsingTao, Japanese with Asahi/Sapporo, etc. But this kind of beers can sometimes be very expensive. Generally (standard) Heineken, Amstel, Dommelsch, Grolsch, Palm, Bavaria, and Hoegaarden go well with any Asian food, especially with BBQ, e.g. Sate Ayam Ponorogo (see previous post).
Everyday Matters Challenge #24
As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts, the tree actually belongs to my downstairs neighbor. It does not have enough space to grow horizontally, as in a vineyard. So it decides to grow vertically and raids our balcony. One of the tips has actually reached another balcony, on the other side of our living room. It’s been growing really hard and I believe some parts of it has already reached its maximum length (about 20 m or so from the tree). Those parts are just growing new leaves and branches, but not fruit. The grapes are still unripe and very young. Hans, our neighbor, does not mind if we harvest the grapes hanging on our balcony, when they are ready. Very nice of him. So, Nor enthusiastically takes care of the plant daily. He acts like he really knows about grapes and the tree. Trimming and grooming it. I just hope that he does not overgroom it. Sometimes he’ll says, ‘Wow, it feels like we live in Provence’… Yeah, right! I told him that I needed some grapes for this challenge. So I would need to cut some off the tree. He turned and looked a bit surprised, ‘Are you serious??!!’ Of course not! . So my model is still free, very much alive and hanging from the tree, as you can see. He has about a month or so, before his time is up and then…
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.
This is my first try at sketching Wasabi. I sort of drew her silhouette. She’s solid black cat with just a few white hairs on her neck. We’ve had crazy idea of dying these white hair black by using for example a permanent marker. She would not like it, of course! But till now we still love her as she is. The original Wasabi with a few white hairs.
Today is Queen’s day in Holland. Almost everybody tries to get drunk in the cities. I don’t like it, I find it a bit claustrophobic. So I decided to sun on our balcony on the back of our apartment. And look! The downstair’s neighbor grape tree is creeping up to our balcony. Soon we will be able to harvest some real grapes. We’ve got an OK from the neighbor. Yipee!