Saturday, 21 October 2017

The valley of the Sûre and the Forest of Anlier - my first impressions

We have been on a short trip to The Ardennes, Belguim, to be more precise, to the Forest of Anlier and the Valley of the river Sûre. The weather was great, maybe a bit too warm for autumn but we have been walking in the forest, walking in the valley and I have been taking pictures and most of the evenings were dedicated to painting.

These are small paintings, only A4 size. The circumstances in our 'gîte' were not as good as  in my studio. Most of the times the lights were not very helpful, but I managed to get used to this set-up and made some nice watercolours.

This is the first one I made, and as we had just arrived in the 'gîte' this is the view from one of the windows. The background is the slope of one side of the valley of the river Sûre which is covered with trees, the other one is right behind our 'gîte'. The river is in fact between the fields and the background. 
I was struggling with the lights, the height of the table, the moisture of the air (close to the river) so this painting may be not the best I have ever made, but for a 'warming-up' it is a nice one.

The Forest of Anlier is a piece of land that has been described by Julius Caesar and has remained a forest since these days. We had chosen a walk of 12 km and we have just seen the northern part of the forest. I have been making some nice reference pictures and for the 'first impression' I chose to do a scene with lots of autumn colours and some fallen trees. The sun was shining and the forest seemed to be on fire with all those yellow, orange and red colours!

The next day we started out from the 'gîte' to walk in the valley of the river Sûre. The first part of that walk was following an abandoned railway track and was easy. I made some pictures showing the track and the green valley beside it. This day we returned early, we had some problems with shoes, muscle aches and so on. In the afternoon I stayed in the 'gîte' to paint as my husband decided to discover a bit more of the surrounding landscape - on better shoes. 
This time I painted in daylight and the air seemed less moist than it is in the evenings, so the process of painting was more relaxed than the other days. 

The last day of our vacation we were in tourist mode. We went to visit the town of Schengen, in Luxembourg and as we returned we drove once again through the Forest of Anlier. I asked my husband to stop in a safe place so I could make some pictures. Imagine a road of 10 km or more surrounded by these trees - I just had to have those pics! The scene was still sunny, with lots of shadows from the trees. A lot of leaves have already fallen and the foliage is not as dense as it was a few days ago, so the colours of the trees are lighter. In a few days this autumn splendor will be gone, all leaves on the ground and the trees will be as good as bare. 

Of course I will paint more, using larger sizes of paper and some other reference pictures. These will be done at home, in my studio where I can take all the time I need to complete a painting.

More information about these watercolour paintings (paper and paints used, etc) can be found at my website 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Rain is coming!

Autumn in The Netherlands can be a wet season. Wind and rain are normal these days and we usually take either raincoats or umbrellas with us when we go outside.
This was one of those days. We had a family reunion in the old harbor town of Elburg, in the northern part of the Veluwe. The old town is a protected area and outside the old city walls the landscape is rural. On one side is what remains of the once dangerous 'Zuiderzee', the Veluwemeer, a small lake between the 'old' and the 'new' land.

This somewhat overcast view attracted my attention so I made some quick reference pictures before it actually started to rain again. 

It may be autumn yet, not all trees have lost their green colours. There is a lot of yellow and brown visible already, promising more fantastic autumnal splendor to look forward to.

For this watercolour painting I decided to use a quarter of a sheet of paper and a limited palette of blues, yellows and a brown colour. I am getting used to mixing my shades of green from blue and yellow paints and I am more and more satisfied with the results of these mixtures. I just have to keep in mind that I want to use transparent blues and yellows for this and my greens will be nice and transparent too.

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

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sunrise in autumn - walking along the railroad

Sometimes I walk to my job having a great view and this time I just had to use the opportunity to make a quick picture with my phone. The picture was not perfect of course but I have made the best of it.

The walking path and bicycle path have a bend in the distance so they don't end in the 'vanishing point'. The bushes on the slope of the railroad were dark and in the shadows so I have only suggested their shapes. At the moment I took my picture I was alone on that walking path so the scene is calm.

I have used my Twilight Colours and added a yellow and a grey-blue for the colours of the sunrise and the deepest shadows. The lines of the lamp posts and the overhead of the railroad are made with a water soluble pencil, that can be applied more subtle when needed. The Twilight Colours can also give nice dark mixtures but that would have been too dark for this purpose. 

I enjoyed painting this and experimenting a bit more with the colours on my palette.

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

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 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Ardennes, this time some good photographs

The last week I have been posting the paintings I have made during my week of vacation in the Ardennes. The photographs were not as good as usual and for a reason. I did not have the opportunity to give the published pictures my usual watermark which is meant to prevent abuse of my artwork.
Today I have made some good photographs at home and I have given them the watermark.
So they are ready for proper publication now.

For the story of each of my paintings I refer to the blog posts I have written last week.

Some additional information may be necessary.
These painting vacation are group activities with two teachers, both ladies are qualified. Each teacher accompanies half of the students each day and they change groups every other day. Unfortunately they have decided to stop giving these classes and focus on one-day-workshops instead.
The paintings I have made this week are very much my own idea, I have had some guidance, but not much. With one exception, the bottle in expressionistic style could not have been completed as it is without help from my teacher. I am not ashamed to say so, expressionism is really not my style. The lamp was easy using the hints I needed to finish the bottle.

More information about these paintings (paper, paints, other materials used, size, etc) can be found at my website 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Ardennes, day 6

The last day is always about playing with paint and ends with an exposition of the results of the week.
This time the playing part was monoprint and I had to 'borrow' some acrylic paint for that. I tried to include some dried flowers and grasses in my prints but that did not have the results I hoped for.
So I continued with the results I got and added red ink in one of my prints and crayons in the other.

After lunch I will be 'composing' my exhibition.

More information about me and my paintings can be found at my website

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Ardennes, day 5

Today was about abstracting.
We were invited  to make sketches on a beautiful location and to create an abstracted painting after that sketch.
I found a very nice spot for my sketch and decided it was too beautiful to make only an abstracted painting. So I started a watercolour painting using the realistic colours and while that one had to dry I started a small one which had to be more abstracted. Halfway we moved back to the house because it started to rain. After these two were finished, I decided to do a white-on-black painting in the afternoon, using the same sketch for inspiration.
The results are in the picture.

More information about me and my paintings can be found at my website

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ardennes, day 4

Today the weather forced us to stay in the house. We were invited to paint in an expressionistic style and I found inspiration in some small corners in the central room in the house.
Because expressionism is not my usual style I was very happy with all the suggestions our teachers gave me.
Today's results are colourful and experimental and I enjoyed painting like this for a day.

More information about my paintings can be found at my website

Monday, 31 July 2017

Ardennes, day 3

Today we have been away from the house, on the shore of the lake. First we had an introdution to Impressionism and then we were invited to paint.
The shoreline is curved, so we could all choose a different view.
I decided to include some of the pine trees and bushes to suggest the distance between my spot and the opposite shoreline.
Once again the creation of all those shades of green with blues and yellows was challenging, but the results are much more to my liking than the results I got when using greens from the factory.
In the water I added some touches of Iridescent Medium, just for fun. The results are nice! So thanks to my daughter who gave me the Iridescent Medium for my birthday.

More information about me and my paintings can be found at my website

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Ardennes, day 2

This day is 'warming up day', so we start finding our inspiration in the view from the house. There also is a nice garden and many of us started painting flowers.
Of course I found my inspiration in a lot of trees and some buildings on the other side of the lake.
After I had started the green painting one of the teachers said "Why don't you paint two paintings at the same time?" and I gathered paper and other stuff to start a second version of my subject. As one was drying, I painted the other one and so on. Each watercolour painting has three or four layers of paint, so I have been switching a few times.
It was really nice painting  this way!

For more information about my watercolour paintings, please visit my website

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Ardennes, day 1

This week I will be painting in The Ardennes again. The view from the location is great, even in the evening. Today was mostly spent in the car, we arrived in time for afternoon coffee with cake. Tomorrow we will start painting and I will post the results of each day.

For more information about my previous painting vacations, please visit my website 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

After the rains - morning in the mountains

Last autumn my husband and me had a short vacation in the Black Forest, Germany. I have already made and published some watercolour paintings I made during and after that trip. On the way home we started early - as it is over six hours by car to get home - and we stopped for this sight. In the night and the early morning it rained and now the water that had fallen was rising up to the sky again in the form of mist. In the mountains that is a great sight especially for people like us, who are living in a flat country.
On my request my husband Peter stopped the car (in a parking place of course), opened the window and made some photographs.
We were near a hamlet situated in a bend in the road, so there were some buildings in front of the forests, the mountains and the mist.

Because I wanted to lay emphasis on the tranquility of the scene I have 'forgotten' to show the part of the road that was visible and added some bushes to the ones that were already there. The house on the left is also a bit altered and has got a more traditional 'Black Forest' facade.

Once again I have not been using green from the tube, but mixed my greens using several blue, grey and yellow paints. Because it is autumn I have added the yellows in pure form to the trees and bushes. The pine trees are evergreen of course and most of them are emerging above the mist. Only those on the far left are hidden behind the mist as that mountain ridge is much further away.
The smoke from one of the chimneys is highlighted with Chinese White.

Once again I had not stretched my paper before painting on it, and again I had some small difficulties. I have been giving this method a second try but I have found out that it is better for me - and my painting habits - to soak and stretch my paper before painting. 

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

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Evening mood in the polder

The reference photo for this watercolour painting had been waiting for almost two years now. My son Martijn lives in Almere, which is in what we call 'the New land', one of the polders made in the IJsselmeer. His birthday is in September so when we drive home after a visit the chances of a nice sunset are good. Usually my daughter Mariska makes a picture from the car when I ask her to.

Because of the poor light circumstances the fields were very dark and without structure in the reference photo so I have changed that part a bit. I had to do this from my memory because since the photo has been made, parking places have been made there.  
The railroad is still the same. On the right is the little railway station, unfortunately its structure is mostly on ground level. Behind the railroad only one building is visible. There are plans to build more of course as the town of Almere will be developed further in the next decades.

Maybe it is due to the rainy weather but painting this was not without struggle. It can also be caused by the fact that I did not soak and stretch my paper before starting to paint. The surface of the paper reacts differently to water and paint when the coating from the mill is not removed by the soaking and stretching. It's easier to remove paint this way and I had forgotten that - I remembered quickly though.
Nevertheless I made a painting I like very much.
For the first time I used Chinese White in this painting - only to highlight the moon a bit. After I had removed the masking fluid I tried to soften the edges and the result was not good, so I tried to hide that behind some clouds, and still I was not happy about it. The white paint did the trick, as it is not very opaque (like gouache) the clouds are still there, but my moon is round again.

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

Monday, 10 July 2017

I have got free art materials!

This month my favourite art supply store gives away free art materials when you get yourself a membership of the Dutch Association of Artists.
So today we went to the store, filled in the application  form and went shopping.
The result is in the picture.
I got paint and paper for my watercolour paintings, charcoal, fixative and paper for charcoal drawings and paper for sketches. I will be using some of these materials when I am on my painting vacation in The Ardennes - in a few  weeks.
The membership of the Artists Association does also have some nice advantages, so I think I got myself a good deal.
Now I only have to paint.

More information about me and my paintings can be found at my website

Friday, 7 July 2017

View on the Kasbah of Ouarzazate

After so many weeks working on a project using charcoal, I wanted to paint again! So I brushed away the dust from my palette and started browsing through my 'inspiration gallery'. That is a collection of reference photos that were made by my husband, my children and me. 

This time inspiration came from Morocco, my son Martijn visited that country as a tourist almost three years ago and gave me some of the photos he made there.
One of the trips he made was a visit to the historical Kasbah of Ouarzazate, a monument.
The view is great and a challenge to paint. The colours of the buildings have only a little bit of variation so I had to exaggerate that variation to give depth to the structure.
There was a hint of green and grass in the landscape so I used that as well.
And the cactus on the rocks in the foreground. 

This is my first cactus and it was a bit of a challenge, especially as i am still mixing my greens from blues and yellows. I had to find the right mixture here and that meant experimenting with my colours. The green of the cactus is made up with two different mixtures of a yellow and a blue and a grey mixture for the shadows. Each mixture is applied on the dried paint I had already used, this technique allows me to suggest the shapes of the cactus leaves. Of course it is not perfect yet, but for my first attempt the result is satisfying.

For the grasses and the dry branches on the foreground I used my Watercolour Sticks. They are nice for drawing thin lines and when used dry on dry the lines are uneven because of the structure of my paper.

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

Monday, 3 July 2017

Painting again! A view in the forests.

It has been a long time since my last painting. I have already mentioned that I had started on a project of fourteen charcoal drawings and that project is ready for the camera now. When the pictures are ready I will publish my project.

We have been busy with a lot of things, the weather did not cooperate so it had also been a long time since we had our last walk in the nature of our country.
Not very far from our home lies the small town of Oosterhout which has a nice little forest to walk in. The signposted walk is provided with information about the history of the area and how that history affected the landscape. That is really interesting, the area used to bee moorland, later it became production forest and now it is being brought back to recreation forest with a lot of attention for the past.
In this piece of forest there are also some patches of field where wheat can grow alongside with the flowers that naturally accompany it.
At some point we had a nice look through from under the trees over one of those fields. The scene had some back-light, so the trees are a dark mass on the reference picture I took. The wheat has all the sunlight we had at that moment and makes a nice contrast to the dark greens of the surrounding trees.

This gave me the idea to paint this scene on black paper, using white gouache and some of my watercolour paints. The foliage hanging over from the top gave me some troubles, as expected. That is much easier to paint on white paper, painting the leaves and not having to worry about the white colour of the clouds behind them. I decided to make the foliage a bit more dense, this may be reality next week, so I only took some 'artistic liberty' here.

This time I cropped the picture I have made after my painting to where the paint is. Usually I show some extra bits of the black paper, but this time my 'horizon-line' could not be erased without damaging my paper. This is how the painting will be framed.
Of course it is possible to make a better picture after the painting, but it still is as I have told you before - I do not have that advanced a camera and I do not have an advanced editing program on my computer.

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

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Ik Toon - I am showing you my artwork

In the month of June the area where my residence is part of is showing artwork of its (amateur) artists. That event is called 'Ik Toon' which means 'I am showing you'.
All over the area - the Molenwaard - there are shops that give some space in their windows to display artworks. Many private homes show art as well. And there are special activities in this month such as musical festivities, an exposition day in a monumental windmill, raku baking etc.

Two of my artworks are on display in the shop window of 
Estate agent Kooyman Eigen Huis, 
Kerkstraat 1, 
2969 AJ Oud-Alblas.

The weather is great now, so taking a good picture of artwork on display in a shop window is quite a challenge. 
I could not take good pictures, but I will show what I made. If you take an 'average' of these three, you might get a nice impression.

The artworks on display are these: 
A charcoal drawing and a watercolour made after a foggy walk in the woods.

More information can be found at my website 

Friday, 26 May 2017

There is work in progress...

This time I do not have a picture to show you.
I have been working on a project that will include at least fourteen charcoal drawings and I will publish this project when it is finished. To give you a hint on the progress: four of them are finished, ten to go. For this project I have been given permission to use pictures made by my son Martijn and my daughter-in-law Claudia. When all drawings are made, I would like to write (or have someone write for me) a text to accompany my artworks.

Usually I have time to paint or draw in the weekends, but lately there have been other things filling my time. 
For example: my son got married last week. Of course that is a very happy event but it took my time and attention away from my little studio.

The time of outdoor art events has started in The Netherlands and I have some obligations towards my 'colleagues' in amateur art. On the other hand, those days might inspire me to do some watercolours, so I could have paintings to publish here soon.

When nothing is published here, I am still working on my project.

More information about the paintings I have made in the past and the art events I participate in can be found at my website 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A brown beech tree in springtime

A few months ago I became member of IWS Holland. That is a nice group of watercolourists, both amateurs like me and professionals are in it. A few times each year a meeting is organised in a beautiful spot so that we can meet, talk and paint together.
Last time we met in the town of Vleuten (in The Netherlands) where a nice little church stands surrounded by large trees. On the side of the churchyard is a huge brown beech tree. As it was springtime, the foliage was brightly coloured and not as full and dark as it will be in summer. The sun was shining brightly so the light yellow and red shades of the young leaves were attracting my attention.
I made a sketch and some reference pictures, selected a piece of paper and started to paint. Somehow my tree was not what I wanted it to be and some of the other members of IWS Holland were giving me valuable advise. My painting of that day ended up as an autumn scene and not completely mine as I was given a demonstration of how to paint an interesting tree. 
Of course I am very grateful for the demonstration and with all that fresh in my memory I started another painting the next day. This time I worked from one of my reference pictures and really tried to make a tree in springtime.
Brown beech trees look like autumn in this time of the year: bright yellow and red colours instead of the more usual green leaves. The colours of the leaves will turn to a reddish brown very soon and stay like that all summer.

I have discovered that a tree in springtime is not an easy subject. The sun shone through the leaves, giving lots of colour but not much shadows, as the foliage is not very close yet. The trunk of the tree and the large lower branches are still very visible and that makes it hard work to suggest volume in the foliage.

This painting may be not one of my best, but I will continue painting trees in all seasons, untill I have mastered my subject.

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

Sunday, 7 May 2017

In the Caves of Han

Last autumn we visited the Domaine des Grottes de Han. The caves are famous,we would be passing the area on our way to the Black Forest in Germany, so the decision to visit these caves was easily made.
The tour in the caves lasts over an hour and there are many beautiful stalactites and stalagmites to be seen. My husband Peter had the camera and made lots of photographs. Most of the formations are not easy to paint - for someone who is used to water, clouds, trees and that stuff - but this one was challenging me. 
This formation was lit by one strong lamp and the shadows in the deeper parts are very, very dark. There are some stalactites hanging from a ledge in the wall  of the cave. The whole scene is not very large, maybe less than one m2.
The colours are real and are caused by various salts that dissolve in the water and mix with the limestone that shapes the stalactites.

Of course I decided to paint a white-on-black painting. The fading of the light on the edges of the area the lamp shines on was a bit of a challenge. This is easier with watercolour paint on watercolour paper.

This time I made the picture after the painting myself and I used a 'not so very good' computer program to edit that picture. So what I am showing you could be better, but this is the best I can do for the moment.

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

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Bird sanctuary - 2; an experiment with a limited palette

We returned from our last walk on the 'Kalmthoutse Heide'  with a lot of photographs that can be used as reference for my paintings. 
To prevent me doing the same thing over and over again, I usually start challenging myself after the first two or three paintings and here I set myself a double challenge.

I chose to work with a limited palette of only three colours. The three are selected carefully, when placed in a colour wheel made up of 12 colours, they are in the shape of an equilateral triangle. So they have a natural balance.
I have worked with this palette before and this is great for painting landscapes.

The second challenge I set myself is the high position of the horizon. 
Usually I have my horizon positioned low, like the old masters did. So now I have a lot of land to paint and very little sky.

For this double challenge I decided to work on a smaller piece of paper than usual.

The scene is the bird sanctuary I painted before, but this time a bit to the left from my first painting. There is no real path, just some parts with moss, low grass and sand that suggest there might have been a path in the near past. The tree is waiting for warmer weather to let the leaves come out and the bushes are doing the same.
In the distance are evergreen trees and bushes, in front of them are traces of other paths visible in the moss and grasses.

My limited palette may have a natural balance, it is hard to get really dark values with these three colours without making a mess of my painting. So I stopped before that could happen and decided to suggest a bit more than I did in my latest paintings.

I really enjoyed working on this painting and the lessons I learned will be used to improve the next ones.

More information (colours used, size, etc) can be found at my website 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A wider view - Kalmthoutse Heide

This scene attracted my attention the moment we were walking on top of the hill and looking towards the bend in the path we were following. I asked my husband Peter to take a reference picture for me, as he is a bit taller than I am and could get a wider view.
As we walked towards the bend in the path I took another reference picture, which I used for the charcoal drawing I have already posted.
At this point the sand path is very broad and filled with footsteps of the people who walked there before us. Around the bend the path is more narrow, between the hills and dunes that give this part of the area its name: Vossenbergen (Fox mountains).

This was springtime, the grasses and mosses are green already, a nice bright colour. 
As the area is sandy, there are mostly evergreen pine trees and heather bushes. These heather bushes are not just brown, their colour has more than a hint of violet. In a few weeks they will be green too.
Our walk started under a bright blue sky but as time passed, some clouds appeared. 

Again I have tried to show the beauty of this Natural Reserve in my painting. 
I am not the first painter that is attracted by this area and I hope I will not be the last.

More information about this watercolour painting (size, materials used, etc) and the other paintings I made inspired by this Natural reserve can be found at my website 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Testing my new Tinted Charcoal pencils

A charcoal drawing can be a bit too much black (and white) when you want to draw a landscape. So I have been experimenting with techniques to introduce some colour to a charcoal drawing. I was really happy with the results I got using a watercolour underpainting on watercolour paper but sometimes that is not what I am looking for.
Then, browsing on the internet I found Tinted Charcoal pencils. In the instruction videos they are used for the whole drawing, but I just want to add them to my charcoal. 
I decided to give these pencils a try to see how they can be used in my artwork.

This is the result of my first attempt: the scene on the Kalmthoutse Heide was back-lit, so the silhouettes are strong and dark, perfect for a charcoal drawing. I added the colours of the grasses on the left with my pencils, and very little pine-green in the tree. So most of the drawing is made with my charcoal stick and I added the colours later.
Working with these pencils is different than working with a stick of charcoal, the marks can be blurred with my fingers, but not so easily as the charcoal. Of course that is because they are pencils and I just have to get used to them. I have got the tin with all 24 colours, so I have plenty of opportunities to experiment with my new pencils.

More information about this charcoal drawing and all the watercolour paintings I made inspired by the Kalmthoutse Heide can be found at my website 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Ssssh - bird sanctuary!

One of my favourite places to go for a hike is the Kalmthoutse Heide. This  Natural Reserve is situated partly in The Netherlands, partly in Belgium and the management is shared by several organisations.
The Kalmthoutse Heide is very close to the place we live so it is easy to go for a walk when the weather turns out to be nice. There are many signposted walks and I think we have explored them all by now. Of course we can walk there all seasons and see the changes. We also started to walk the pathways anti-clockwise for a change in perspective.

Some areas are closed for public during the breeding season. The reference picture for this painting was taken looking into one of those areas while I was standing behind the fence. The paths that can be seen are forbidden to walk on from March until July.
The birds were not always to be seen, but they made their presence very clear on this warm spring day.

The heather plants are still brown, many of the grasses are dry and yellow, but green moss and grass is showing itself already.
Most of the trees and bushes have started to unfold their leaves, this pine tree is having fresh green needles amongst the older ones.
The trees and bushes in the background are all pine trees, this part of the Kalmthoutse Heide is sandy and relatively dry.

I have tried to paint the beginning of springtime and I hope I have succeeded.
For this painting I have been ignoring my ready-made greens and mixed the colours I wanted using blue, yellow and some sienna or violet for the shadow parts.
This is a nice challenge for me because not all 'blue' and 'yellow' mixtures make a nice, transparent green. But still, despite the challenge part, I really am happy with the mixtures I have now and think the painting results are better than with the mixtures I get using the ready-made sap green and other greens.

More information about this painting and the ones I have made during the past years inspired by the Kalmthoutse Heide can be found at my website 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Kinderdijk - 2

The Unesco World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk is mostly famous for the windmills, but there is also a nice folktale that explains its name.
For the story I have copied the text on the Wikipedia page about Kinderdijk: 

"The name Kinderdijk is Dutch for 'Children Dike'.
During the Saint Elizabeth Flood of 1421, the 'Grote Hollandse Waard' flooded, but the 'Alblasserwaard' polder stayed unflooded.
It is said that when the terrible storm had subsided, someone went to the dike between these two areas to see what could be saved. In the distance he saw a wooden cradle floating on the water. As it came nearer, some movement was detected. A cat was seen in the cradle trying to keep it in balance by jumping back and forth so that no water could get into it. As the cradle eventually came close enough to the dike for a bystander to pick up the cradle, he saw that a baby was quietly sleeping inside it, nice and dry. The cat had kept the cradle balanced and afloat."

As a reference to that nice folktale a wicker cradle is floating in the water close to the entrance of the site. As we saw the cradle floating I tried to translate the tale to our French guests. I hope they could understand enough of my French to appreciate what I was telling them.

The area has a lot of water, dikes and small bridges and not all the reeds were harvested. The windmills were in plain sight with most of the reeds cut.
I wanted to get a nice composition with some windmills of the 'ordinary' type and another one, the one on the right is a 'wipmolen' or wip mill.  The reference picture I made for this purpose shows the cradle from the tale, so I decided to include the cradle in the painting, draw some extra attention to it and tell the story in my blog post. 

I hope you also enjoyed the story of the baby and the cat in the cradle, surviving the flood.

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


Sunday, 19 March 2017


The windmills of Kinderdijk are a Unesco World Heritage site and I live not very far from that place. One of the reasons we do not visit it very often, is the fact that it usually is full with sightseers.
This time we had guests from France and they liked to see the windmills. As it was still winter and a grey day, it was relatively quiet.

Our guest were making lots of pictures and we had taken our own camera as well. As the reeds were not as high as they are in summertime, we had a nice view of all of the windmills. I have been making some reference pictures during our walk and this is the first watercolour painting I made using these references.

As I said, it was still winter, but springtime is already near. There are some patches of green between the yellow stalks of the reeds. The meadows on the right are green and what I cannot show in the picture is the fact that hundreds of geese and other birds were feeding in the meadows behind the windmills. We could not see them, but they made themselves heard very well.

This is only one of the many inspiring views in the area, I have made several reference pictures to paint from. After I have posted this one I will be planning the next.

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