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).