Tuesday, 26 April 2016

All it ever does is rain

All it ever does is rain.
Woke up this morning with this dream about torrential rain, watering cans and steam irons.
Yes, there was a lot of rain last night. Just a silly in-between.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Looking for Klimt (1)

This years exercise in painting Master class was making a painting based on the style of Klimt.

This does not mean trying to make a copy of one of his paintings, but studying his painting style and composition principles.
I never liked Klimt much, I considered him to be rather kitsch: a lot of gold and coloured patterns overwhelming the portrayed models.
But to my surprise I found that there was a lot to learn from him: especially his composition methods. Also how he paints the human parts very fragile, almost vulnerable, easy to hurt, and breakable within the storms of colours and patterns around them.  
Anyway, the exercise was even made worse by the theme that we had to use for the painting: intimacy.
I did not want to paint the obvious subjects: "the kiss", woman and child, two lovers, that kind of (in my male opinion) romantic stuff. So I decided to go for a girl being absorbed by reading a book.
On google images I found a picture that could serve as basis, see above.

 I made a lot of small sketches to make the theme work, here are just a few of them.
I tried all kind of ideas: positioning the figure in the frame, making the scene "flat" (a Klimt signature: a total lack of depth in his paintings), contrasts between colour and flesh, where and how to add textures/patterns, where less exuberant areas, centralised composition or dynamic, what colours to use etc.
Then I choose one idea and started painting on a large canvas: 90x80cm.
I had decided earlier that I wanted to do something in red/orange/yellow, for no obvious reason. Just because I had not seriously painted in these colours for some time.

Here you see the first version. A total failure. The figure too small, wrong location, not interesting at all.
You can see on the new thin lines that I enlarged and repositioned the figure within the composition.
By placing it higher and o the left, the subject filled the canvas better, and the dynamic came from the subject, not from the coloured blocks.

I tried to rebalance the different colour blocks (notice how the red squares form a triangle, to compensate the yellow triangle).

Also, the one visible leg with the arm over it did not work, it looked comical. Furthermore I enlarged the yellow blanket, and resized it to balance the colours.
This was how the basis looked like, at the point where I would start adding details and textures.

But after these three sessions I was still totally dissatisfied.
So I made a picture, then a print and used some tracing paper to start all over again. And I arrived at some new ideas for the composition.
I coloured it in Gimp, and found another way to do the image,.
I am still working on the new version, it's not very far from being finished.
More to come in the next post.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The fresh green colours of Spring

A sketch of yesterday, one of the first beautiful days of this year, >20 degrees C.
And the yellowish-green colours of spring are suddenly everywhere. Like in this "volksgarten" complex in Alzenau, just a few 100 meters from the hotel.
Most towns and villages in Germany and the Netherlands have them: places where inhabitants can rent a few 100 m2 to grow fruit and vegetables. And they usually have small greenhouses and gardensheds. Like this one.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Simca Ariane

Last week on my business trip I took a wrong turn in the little village of Dettingen am Main (not so far from Frankfurt), and found these two cars in process of restoration.

I had some time to kill - one should never waste a good opportunity when it finds your way.
It's a Simca Ariane, made in France during the early 60s. Also sold as Ford Vedette, but that one had some details that were different.
The car next to it is an Opel from the late 60s, a Kapitän, Admiral or Diplomat. These cars looked the same but were different in detailing, luxury and motors. I forgot to check which one it was.
I can still remember these cars driving around in my street, it's funny to see them as vintage cars nowadays.

Saturday, 16 April 2016


Our new kitten, Mila. She is just 6 weeks old now. And so cute.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Hotel Krone, Alzenau

To Bavaria Germany again this week. This is the restaurant of the hotel I am stayimg in, Hotel Krone.
The restaurant serves very good food, traditional German, but not too traditional.
Time for a little sketch after dinner, while enjoying a good Weizenbeer.

Monday, 11 April 2016


Another little sketch of the Zehntmauerstrasse, in Wasserlos-Alzenau (Germany). A few hundred meters from the hotel.
Made last week, but it was getting dark before I could finish the paintwork. I finished it today.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Olga und Helmut

Hanau, Hauptbahnhof, this afternoon.
After my week of business in the South of Germany (Hanau, Kleinostheim and Alzenau), I travelled back home by high speed trains. I waited for the train in the square in front of the station, and this couple was sitting opposite from me. I secretly drew them, and they were so occupied bickering about something, that they did not notice me drawing them. At some point a little boy sat down next to me, and started asking questions, but I had hush him secretly, and had to hide my book until he was gone with his mother to catch a train. I finished it on my journey home.
I have no idea if their names are really Olga and Helmut, but I somehow felt these are fitting.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Glass bird

My latest glassworks project, ready to go into the oven. Its made out of a few plates of glass with coloured enamel in between. And for the wings small stripes of regular sheetglass. The object is about 30 cm. high. 
Next week i'll see the results. 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Wasserlos Alzenau

I have this project in the south of Germany nowadays, very interesting, but also very time consuming.
I have to stay three to four days a week in Bayern (Bavaria). That means long days and limited opportunity to sketch.
This is an early-morning-walk-before-breakfast sketch of a old half-collapsed barn. The only thing worth sketching within 5 minutes walking from the hotel. It will be difficult to keep up with this blog.
Watercolourpencil in a A5 moleskine.

Friday, 25 March 2016


Déesse. The french word for Goddess sounds so much better.
This was meant as an excercise for the upcoming new assignment in our model class: a Klimt-like painting. Composition is very important in the Klimt paintings, with subtle and bleak faces or bodies inserted, almost overwhelmed by the lavish decorated dresses. This is a try to see how it works out.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

More Lohr am Main

Lohr am Main. Also made during the business trip last week, but it needed a little finishing touch.
I had no time to draw during the trip yesterday, so you'll have to do with the one of last week.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Two times Julia


Last of the live model classes (for now). We had Julia again, a lovely model. The object of todays exercise was to combine coloured paper, oil pastels and acrylic paint into a painting.

The basic idea was to apply transparent acrylic colour to leave the pasted on coloured paper as "visible" as possible. But as the paper was too vivid and saturated, I had no choice but to paint rather opaque.
The second one (below) was more transparent. Each painting, 50x70cm, took an hour to make.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Lohr am Main

Another business trip, another sketch.
Of the Bayern (Germany) town of "Lohr am Main" this time. All the hotels within 50km of Frankfurt were booked because of a large congress, we had to travel a lot more to the south to get a decent hotel.
It had the advantage that we could visit this cute little town in the evening.

The drawing is not very good, it became dark too quickly, and somehow the drawing did not take off too well, right from the start. You can't always have a winner.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Public toilet

Still a sketch from last week in Bitterfeld, Germany. The park across the road from the hotel had this old public red masonry toilet building. It was closed, maybe forever, maybe waiting for the summer.germ

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Fused glass dish

One of my other projects: glassworks. I recently finished this fused glass dish, 30x30cm.
It consists of two layers of fused glass, with glass enamel in between. The supports are made from bent sandblasted glass. It looks lovely on our living room table.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Bitterfeld (Germany)

On the road again, during my now almost weekly business trips. To Bitterfled this time, half an hour drive east of Leipzig.
At last I had the time to make a few on-location sketches. This is one, the market square of Bitterfeld.
Even though Bitterfeld is a common German town, there are not so many subjects fit for nice urban sketching. The town became big as result of huge chemical industry and browncoal mining, but as these activities were founded in the dreary former East German DDR period, the town has its share of horrible "plattenbau" and other derelict buildings. It tries to recover, but still bears the scars.

Sunday, 6 March 2016


A lot of travelling for work these days, and not so much chance for on-location drawing.  It gets too dark too early, and the weather is horrible.
Like this morning, during my 14 km run in the rain, finding my way through the hills between Jabeek and Bingelrade. I would have liked to draw the scene, but I would not have been be able to do so, because of the steady falling rain. Besides, the hardly paved country road was far too muddy for getting there by car.
So I took a picture with my camera, and turned it into a little drawing this evening.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Urban Sketching Handbook

I had forgotten about this one, that was a nice surprise in my mailbox!
Veronica Lawlor made this nice book about Reportage and documentary drawing, Tips and techniques for Drawing on Location.

And I am proud to say that one of my sketches features in it, a 2011 action sketch of cowrunning. I think it was the last time our group joined the local Carnaval-Koerennen games. Anyway, like every year I managed to make this little sketch.

The book is very nice, with a lot of different artists collaborating. Even though the illustrations are sometimes rather small, it's still a treasure of ideas.

If you are interested, click the link below for the Dutch online booksellers.
Link to buy the book on