Saturday, 16 September 2017

The end of summer - a nice day to walk in our beautiful nature!

Summer has ended rather suddenly this year with storms, rains and cold weather in the early part of September. That is not the way it was in the last years but it does give me time to be in my little studio and paint.
We spent one of the last beautiful afternoons outside.

We went to a small Natural Reserve near the border with Belgium, the "Oude Buisse Heide" near the village of Zundert. This is a nice spot for a walk, we chose a signposted walk of about 4 km and we passed through a lot of different landscapes. I have made several reference photographs for later use and this is the first watercolour painting I have made.

We had been walking in between fields and a part of the heath that gives the Reserve its name. Looking back to where we came from I decided the view was worth a painting and stopped to make several photographs for reference. 
The bushes on the left mark the ending of the heath, the fields on the right are grazed by cattle and have an uneven surface with several kinds of grasses, some flowers and small bushes. The path bends to the right and the different fields are separated by lines of wickets that have some higher grasses growing under them. I think the wires between the wickets are under electrical voltage to keep the cattle inside.
We had a cloudy day and most of the time no direct sunshine, so there were no distinct shadows on the path.

Again I have mixed all the green colours in this scene from yellows and blues. This is getting easy as I am having much more experience - and not to mention much more blues and yellows on my palette.
For the grey colours in the sky I have not mixed a grey using blue and brown, this time I used small amounts of Payne's Grey, just to see if that would give a satisfactory result. For this scene it proved to be perfect, so I will certainly do this again.

More information about this painting (size, paper and paints used, etc) can be found at my website 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Flaming Birch tree

While I was on painting vacation last summer I had sketched an birch tree and decided that day not to use the sketch for a painting. The sketch and the plans I had for it were still on my to-do list, so I have made the painting.
Maybe not exactly as I had planned in summer, but even now it is not so very different from the kind of painting I wanted to create.
The tree was having all of its foliage in summer but I managed to follow the lines of the major branches for the sketch. Now that I have suggested an autumnal tree, I could make the white branches stand out much more.

For the painting I have made a drawing of the outlines of the tree and the major branches and covered that area with colourless masking fluid. Once that was dry I used water and paint to create the background, the foliage and a suggestion of fallen leaves on the ground. I applied two layers of paint to create more intense colours for both the foliage and the dark background. With all paint dry I removed the masking fluid.
After that I started to fill in the shadows and the markings that are so characteristic for the birch trees. I also applied a third layer of paint on the top part of the foliage and the ends of the branches, suggesting the existence of foliage in front of those branches.

Experimenting like this with water, paint and the suggestion of - in this case a birch tree in autumn - is really nice to do. I have found that these experiments make my 'touch' in the more traditional landscapes a bit more relaxed, especially in the suggestions of the background. So every now and then, when I start to feel stressed about painting bushes and backgrounds I will make a few paintings like this. 
And of course when I feel like doing so, because - as I said before - this is fun!

More information about this watercolour painting (size, materials used, etc) can be found at my website 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

On the Pier of Hoek van Holland - looking towards England

When I am on the Pier of Hoek van Holland, I do not only look towards the seashore. The Pier is really a long way into the North Sea and at the end of it is a radar post with a helicopter platform which is the only one in The Netherlands (maybe even in the world).
On the left side of the Pier is the canal through which the Port of Rotterdam can be reached, on the right side there are some of the basalt blocks that protect the beach. When I am at this spot I have walked further towards the end of the Pier compared to the spot where I made the sketch for my previous watercolour painting.

For this sketch I really had to imagine the Pier without all the tourists and fishers.
The radar post is the one on the right side of the Pier, on the left side is a light beacon. They both seem to be on the horizon, but the beacon is much closer to the point from where I am sketching.
The waves do often fall over the edges of the Pier, leaving dark wet marks on the concrete. 
We were here on a Sunday, so there was some traffic at sea, but not as much as would have been on a weekday. I have suggested only one ship at the horizon. Sometimes even that one ship was not to be seen that day.
The previous painting had a lot of clouds in the sky, but half an hour later those were all gone. There was a strong wind that day, I really could not have painted on the spot if I wanted to do that.

After I got home I looked at my sketch and thought 'Why did I do that?' because it was not a very detailed sketch, a few pencil lines and notes about the colours on white paper. 
I decided to paint the scene and make the best of it. Using the right colours for the basalt blocks, the light beacon and of course the sea would bring back the scene that inspired me to make that sketch - I hoped. And that is exactly what happened.

More information about this watercolour painting (size, paper and paint used, etc) can be found at my website 

Monday, 28 August 2017

At the Pier of Hoek van Holland

We did not really have a long and hot summer this year. Most of the times it was cool, windy, cloudy and sometimes even rainy weather. Some days we had a lot of sunshine and one of those sunny days was used to visit the beach and the Pier of Hoek van Holland.
That pier is made out of basalt blocks and some of those are at the side of the pier, for extra strength. 

At some point I decided to sit down on the edge of the walking path over the Pier and make a sketch of the view I had there. The great sea vessels were on the other side of the Pier, where the Port of Rotterdam connects to the North Sea. It is strictly forbidden to swim this close to the Pier so at that point there were no tourists either.
This way I had a nice view with only some sailing ships on the horizon. I had a nice time sketching this scene and I also enjoyed painting it.

The basalt blocks with sand blown up to their sides are still a bit of a challenge, but I am confident that some day painting them is as easy for me as painting the sky. I have painted so many clouded skies in my landscapes that it is a part of my landscape I am very confident about. I still need to give attention to the sky but there never is that moment of "I can never achieve what I want here, I might as well throw the thing away" which almost came up while painting the basalt blocks.

More information about this watercolour painting (size, paper and paint used, etc) can be found at my website 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Hanging my artwork for an exposition is hard work, but the results are great!

Near my home in the village of Papendrecht is a small forest: the 'Alblasserbos'. This is an area surrounded by grasslands and cows in the polders. A bit to the north are the windmills of the Kinderdijk, south of this area and my village lies 'The Biesbosch'.
In the Alblasserbos is an educational center, 'Natuur- en Vogelwacht de Alblasserwaard'.
In that educational center is the opportunity for expositions and this time I am allowed to have an exposition there. I have selected fourteen examples of my artwork and we have had a busy morning hanging them nicely.

I was really glad I had help, not only my husband gave his assistance, two volunteers from the 'Natuur- en Vogelwacht' and the Amateur Artists Association that work together in the organisation of these expositions were there to help and advise me.

After the frames had been touched many times, I had hard work wiping off all fingerprints!

And here is an impression of the exposition.
Unfortunately the frames with glass do reflect the light a bit too much, not only because I had been wiping off the fingerprints.

I am showing recent work here and I am really happy that the space for the exposition is such a nice one. My works look great on that wall.

More information about this exposition such as the address and the end date can be found at my website 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Howling to the full moon

When I was thinking of scenes that can be painted with lamps, the idea of street lanterns howling to the full moon also came up. So this was to be my next project!

For the background I used the darkest colours I could find and with these I tried to create a night sky with clouds and a full moon. There had to be a street level somewhere and I thought that leaving light spots would suggest pools of water - as if it had been raining.
Making these dark colours flow and stay on the surface is not easy, most of the background is more or less painted. Using more water would have washed away the paint that I had already applied.
The lanterns were 'lifted' with a damp brush. That was easy as expected after my efforts for the background.  The moon was shaped with the aid of a small candle holder and I painted in some clouds and of course the shadows on the moon.
After that all was really dry I used two shades of red to shape the lanterns and some white to show the lights.

As I am using the last bits of study-quality paper this time I chose a square format. This also gave me the space I wanted for this scene. Now the moon is in the painting, not on the edge of it. The street lanterns are at a nice level now and there is some suggestion of a (wet) pavement on the foreground. 

For this painting I have had a lot of very helpful feedback from my daughter Mariska. This type of painting is fun to do, but I am relatively new to it, so a little help may be asked and given. Thank you very much Mariska!!!!

More information about this watercolour painting (size, paper and paint used, etc) and my other lamp-paintings can be found at my website 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Lamps, watercolour and other things

During my last painting vacation in the Ardennes I was introduced to Expressionism.
The result was a rather strange looking beer bottle (it was meant to be like that)  and the feeling that expressionism is not really my style. 
That morning I had also made a sketch of a standing lamp in the house we were staying. That lamp was transformed with the help of the shapes that originate from random splashes of watercolour paint that are dropped on a wet surface. The result of that experiment was also published in one of my blog posts about my painting vacation.

The idea of transforming the original shape of a standing lamp using the random shapes of watercolour that has been free to flow and mix stayed with me. No wonder, it was really fun to do and does not take much time to execute.

So I decided to use my own standing lamp as my model and try again. This time a different set of colours and a 'reason' for the transformation of the shape of the lamp. Spider season is upon us now, so there was the 'reason'. The colours I chose are looking forward to autumn: yellow, orange, red and a dark blue. Once again I used one of my Professional Watercolour Markers for the lamp, only the glass part was suggested by Indian Ink. The spider and his web are also drawn with Indian Ink.

Of course I have planned this concerning the materials I have used and the spider theme, but the final shape of the scene was dictated by the lines and shapes that were formed by the wet paint and the water - with a little help of gravity of course.

This was fun and I have many more ideas so after I have had time to buy me more of the paper I am using for these little paintings you will definitely see more lamps showing up in my artwork!

More information about this painting and the other one I have made in this style can be found at my website