Monday, 29 August 2016

An invitation.....

The first time I was visiting the estate of Castle 'Keukenhof' was at the occasion of a Christmas Fair. That was a nice experience, the estate is a perfect setting for such an event. The tents were - as far as I can remember - the same as we saw during Castle Fest, so the scene I sketched could also have happened in winter.

So I decided to make a winter scene after my sketch, using my Twilight Colours and adding some warm lights to shine from the tents, as an invitation to come and see what is inside.
That is where my title comes from.

This had to be a real winter scene, so there is no foliage on the bushes, snow is falling and the trees are also bare. The path before the tents is trampled already - maybe by the merchants selling their wares inside the tents? There are no visitors in this painting, not even their shadows. 
It is an invitation, so the visitors are yet to come!

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

Monday, 22 August 2016

A fantasy inspired by Castle Fest

In one of the beautiful lanes on the estate surrounding Castle 'Keukenhof" I stopped to make a quick sketch with the idea to use that scene for a painting. Not all my sketches will become paintings but this one had all I needed to work from.

Of course I changed the colour scheme, in stead of all the green of summer I changed the mood to autumn with the nice golden brown shades a beech tree will have in that time of the year.

Castle Fest is all about Fantasy, Elves, Dragons but also Steampunk, Star Trek and almost everything else you can imagine.

The tents with the merchandise are still there - as if they were never taken down after the festival. 
The imaginary side of the festival is what I wanted to show here, that is why the people walking around and looking at the merchandise are only shadows - some of them wearing elaborate costumes, some of them more simply dressed - as if they too never left the estate.

This painting was great to work on. First of all I had to make a plan about how I was going to use my sketch and after that I had to paint of course. I really love this colour scheme for the warm atmosphere it gives and the colours are easy to work with.

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

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Castle 'Keukenhof'

The castle 'Keukenhof' was built in 1642 and was restored several times. The last restoration ended only four years ago and now the building can be visited.
The name 'Keukenhof' means 'kitchen garden' and the surrounding estate was meant to produce the vegetables, fruits, game, eggs and all other things needed to feed the inhabitants of the castle.
The estate is now used for festivals, such as Castle Fest in August and a Christmas Fair in December. The park around the castle building is a nice place to walk and find surprising views.

During Castle Fest there are lots of people on the grounds and it is hard to get a nice picture of the lanes, the fields and the flowers. But I managed to get a spot to draw the castle! Of course this is only part of the building, there were some large trees blocking the view but I don't really mind drawing the castle like this.

More information about this charcoal drawing can be found at my website 

A day at Castle 'Keukenhof' - the walled garden

My daughter and I went to 'Kasteel Keukenhof' to visit Castle Fest. My daughter brought  her camera and made several beautiful pictures. 
Castle Fest is an event in Fantasy style and many people dress up in wonderful costumes. We did not wear great costumes, as Riska wanted to move freely with her camera and I wanted to make some charcoal drawings.
The event is really nice to visit, not only to look at the people, but also look at everything that is for sale in the fantasy market!

Two or three times we laid down a blanket and i stayed behind to draw and look after all our stuff while Riska went about with her camera.
The first stop was in the walled garden. There were still fruit trees at the walls and they were not totally crowded with photographers and their subjects so I decided to draw these - to get in the mood of the estate.

There really were lots of people and other things to see, so I only made two drawings that day - the second one will be posted also.

More information about this charcoal drawing can be found at my website 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

View on Bütgenbach - evening mood

The first time I saw the church towers of Bütgenbach I already knew I wanted to paint them as they were at that moment: far away in the evening mist. 
I made some reference pictures to remember the atmosphere of that evening and I made a sketch of the scene in the brighter light of the following morning.
The colours were still very much related to the blues and greens of summer but after a week of shades of blue and green I needed a change. So I decided on a limited palette of french ultramarine, burnt sienna and violet to give the scene a different mood.

Because of the evening mist, there are not so many details visible on the towers and surrounding buildings, but this was the view that did draw my attention. 
Adding the 'highlights' to make the foreground stand out a bit more was a bit of an experiment as I did not know whether it would work in this colour scheme, but it turned out really nice!

More information about this watercolour painting can be found at my website: 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Ardennes - mixed media with starlings

The last painting day on the trips with Buitenatelier is always a day for experiments with something different.
This time we were encouraged to make stencils with (our) names and make a 'negative' cut-out. Then use the stencil to paint the name(s) and make a nice composition with it.
Those who use acrylic paint just have to use the paint they always do but I had to think of something else.
Because oil pastels are water repellent I stenciled my name with black oil pastel, then poured over two nice colours of watercolour paint and waited for that to dry. 
After that I just added trees and starlings in a very casual way and the result was - well, fun of course! I had fun thinking over this and painting the scene and the result shows how much I enjoyed working like this for a change.

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

Monday, 1 August 2016

Ardennes - the buzzard and the starlings

During the day we were painting on the fields near Wirtzfeld (see my previous post) we could hear and see buzzards in the sky above us. 
Most of the time it was only hearing them but they were really busy that day.

They were always too far away for my little camera to make a good picture, but my memory is really trained now, so I could sketch this one later the same day. I just had to make something in order to remember that part of the day.
I decided to make a charcoal drawing after my sketch because I like the black and white and also because charcoal drawings can be made in a short time.

I added some treetops, a fir tree in the foreground, clouds of course and some smaller birds - to fill up the empty space in the sky.
It had to be starlings just because every evening we had a 'ballet' of swarming starlings above the lake. These birds entertained us while we were dining and we really liked to look at them.

So this drawing is made up - as a reminder of the birds we saw and heard the most during our stay in the Ardennes.

More information about this charcoal drawing can be found at my website 

Ardennes - nearby Wirtzfeld

The fourth painting day was colour again. The teachers from Buitenatelier have found us a great place with nice views to all sides. We were situated halfway up a slope and could look down on fields separated by lines of bushes or the lane we drove through to reach this place. There also were some very curious cows on one side, they really liked the entertainment we gave them.

The lane, with some large beech trees along was to be my subject for today. I like the shapes of those trees, the shadows underneath and the lane itself that gives a direction to my painting.
Once again I made a cadre on my paper with some tape, this time just a small outline.
While sketching some trees disappeared, I lost the lane while painting and the fields were simplified a bit. If I had not done all this, there would have been a lot of details distracting from the atmosphere of the view I wanted to paint.
I have been making some reference pictures to paint from at home, so the other views will also be shown in the future.

Standing outside, on the spot is not without problems: the light kept changing from overcast to sunny and the colours in the foliage of the beeches changed along with it.
At some point I just decided to stop changing those trees and start working on the rest of my painting.

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

Ardennes - The bridge near Wirtzfeld

This vacation was used for experiments. Most people on a painting trip do that and I am no exception to that rule - at least this year I wasn't!
The team from Buitenatelier took us to a small bridge crossing a stream that will eventually flow into the reservoir of Bütgenbach. We were asked to work black and white here, with ink or charcoal.
That was to give us a change from all those fields, bushes and trees in all those shades of green. After two days we all could use that change!

Because I already had painted monochromatic yesterday, I decided to try an experiment today. When working at home, I had experimented with a watercolour under-painting for a charcoal drawing and I was not too happy with the result. Now I decided to try this on watercolour paper which is much more made to absorb water and colour than the paper I use for my charcoal drawings.
So first I have been pouring diluted watercolour paint on my paper and waited for that to dry completely before I started to draw my scene.
At this point it started to rain and the group decided to pack and return to the vacation home we were living for this week. There we all finished our work using pictures or sketches and our memories of course.

The poured watercolour had left some blank spaces, just as I wanted it to be and the drawing process was easy. The watercolour paper is much better for this mixed technique and as it is medium rough drawing on it with charcoal gives some nice surprises too.
I really like this result and will try this technique more often.

More information about this drawing (size, colours used etc) can be found at