Monday, 28 December 2015

Calvino: Eusapia

Eusapia (from Italo Calvino: the invisible cities)

No city is more inclined than Eusapia to enjoy life and flee care. And to make the leap from life to death less abrupt, the inhabitants have constructed an identical copy of their city, underground. All corpses, dried in such a way that the skeleton remains sheathed in yellow skin, are carried down there, to continue their former activities. And, of these activities, it is their carefree moments that take first place: most of the corpses are seated around laden tables, or placed in dancing positions, or made to play little trumpets. But all the trades and professions of the living Eusapia are also at work below ground, or at least those that the living performed with more contentment than irritation: the clockmaker, amid all the stopped clocks of his shop, places his parchment ear against an out-of-tune grandfather clock; a barber, with dry brush, lathers the cheekbones of an actor learning his role, studying the script with hollow sockets; a girl with a laughing skull milks the carcass of a heifer. To be sure, many of the living want a fate after death different from their lot in life: the necropolis is crowded with big-game hunters, mezzo-sopranos, bankers, violinists, duchesses, courtesans, generals--more than the living city ever contained.
The job of accompanying the dead down below and arranging them in the desired place is assigned to a confraternity of hooded brothers. No one else has access to the Eusapia of the dead and everything known about it has been learned from them. They say that the same confraternity exists among the dead and that it never fails to lend a hand; the hooded brothers, after death, will perform the same job in the other Eusapia; rumour has it that some of them are already dead but continue going up and down. In any case, this confraternity's authority in the Eusapia of the living is vast.
They say that every time they go below they find something changed in the lower Eusapia; the dead make innovations in their city; not many, but surely the fruit of sober reflection, nor passing whims. From one year to the next, they say, the Eusapia of the dead becomes unrecognizable. And the living, to keep up with them, also want to do everything that the hooded brothers tell them about the novelties of the dead. So the Eusapia of the living has taken to copying its underground copy. They say that this has not just now begun to happen: actually it was the dead who built the upper Eusapia, in the image of their city. They say that in the twin cities there is no longer any way of knowing who is alive and who is dead.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas surprise

Another glass object, made specially for Rianne, Bob and our future grandchild.
This was the Sinterklaas surprise present, but it took some finishing. The pedestal was not ready and during mounting the head of one of the objects broke. But I managed to do the repairs, and I was able to present the statue to Bob and Rianne yesterday, during the family tradition Christmas dinner.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Bauhaus in Dessau (Germany)

One of the advantages of business trips is that sometimes you get lucky and you arrive at places you never expected you'd arrive.
When I arrived at Bitterfeld (Germany, see the last post), I saw the sign next exit: Dessau. Just 20km away.
Dessau is the birth ground of the Bauhaus, and the origin of the Modern Movement in architecture.

Our world would have looked totally different without Bauhaus (for good or worse, that's difficult to say). But for architects it's like visiting the Vatican: here are the origins, here is the center of the universe. For architects anyway :)
I always wanted to visit the place, but it's a long way outside the usual tourist hangouts.
And I was even more lucky: unexpectedly the meeting in Bitterfeld ended early, and the weather was very un-december: 15 degrees C and a feeble sun!
I had a terrific time visiting the perfectly restored buildings and architecture exhibitions. And I could no resist to make two sketches. Even though I will admit that my style of drawing is not really fit for these kind of stark modernist buildings.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Bitterfeld - Germany

A lot of businesstrips these days, mostly to Germany. But it means long hours on motorways, even when you drive fast cars.
So what do you do when you sit alone in a restaurant in Bitterfeld (somewhere between Leipzig and Berlin)? You draw what's in front of you: a good glass of local beer and a quite pitiful small Christmas tree.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Horus glassobject

I had a rough and busy week, a lot of kilometers on the German motorways for business.
No chance to produce anything decent. Today I finally had some hours that I could spend on hobbies, and I made the pedestal for a glass fusion object I finished some months ago.
It's called Horus, and is about 25cm wide and 40 high.
It's standing on our windowsill now.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


Interesting experiment: trying out an expressionist colour scheme. And it had to be done in a live portrait session, which makes it hard to deviate from reality as you see it.
The objective was to make an interesting colourfield, by playing with contrasting and often complementary colours, and still trying to maintain the facial expressions.
I tried to have the complementary colours (red vs. green) in the front area, so it would attract attention.
I also tried to spread colours over the page: if there is yellow at the frontal face, it should also appear on the other side.  But as I was painting contre-jour (I was looking at the non-lighted side of the face) it was difficult to find the proper spot and amount.
Acrylic 40x70cm, took me about an hour to make.

Saturday, 12 December 2015


Every year I make the surprise presents for Sinterklaas on December 5th. In the Netherlands its common tradition that each person draws straws and makes a presents for another family member, but somehow it became a a recurrent event that I make them all.
Here are two of  the presents.
One present is making fun of the earring of my son. The earring is now gone since a few weeks, he came to his senses :)
The other one is referring to the braces of my wife Gertie, which will be taken out later this week. She'll have a glassbreaking smile what that ordeal is over.

The other surprises I will show later, they need a little finishing.

Thursday, 10 December 2015


Lapi bought a toaster at the fleamarket, and added them to some other toatsters, that Gerard Michel had lying around. Or something like that. Anyway, I could not resist to draw them.
And so did Florian, Gerard and Lapin. 4 versions of the same set. 4 different styles.
Top to bottom: Myself, Florian, Gerard and Lapin.

toaster from st pholien

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Café Lequet

I was having lunch in Liège with my fellow USK friends Gerard, Antoine, Fabien and Lapin, together with two nice ladies of the "Emulation" (who organized the Liège sketching event).
We had terrific "boulets aux frites" (meatballs in thick sweet-bitter sauce with frites and mayonaise).
Of course everyone started sketching. Above my drawing. And here below is an impression of the same place by Lapin.

cafe lequet

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Elephant skeleton

I was with Lapin, Florrian and Gèrard in the Natual history Museum In Liège. they had a lot of bones here, this is the skeleton of an elephant.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

More rooftops

This the view to the other side, towards L'escalier de Buren. That is a long and steep staircase running up the hill, lined with houses. Gerard Florian and I were still sitting on the roof of taht appartment building along the Meuse (Maas).
Here you see the results of my companions: The first one is the panoramic view of Florian Afflerbach. You can see me standing at the right side of the central elevator building. 

The other one is of Gerard Michel. Very very precise drawings! Notwithstanding the cold, we had a great time

Liège, de chez Véro

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Liège rooftops

I went to the presentation of the USK Liège book last thursday.
Some of the sketchers that feature in the book were also there: Florian, Gèrard, Lapin, Antoine and Fabien.

So we took the opportunity to go out and sketch. On friday Gèrard had the bright idea to go to a rooftop of an apartment building overlooking the Meuse/Maas. Mind you: the temperature was barely above freezing point, and there was a chilly wind. Only if you stood in the shade of one of the chimneys, the feeble sun would warm you up a little.
The sketch is the view over the city centre.

By the way: I was on the (French speaking) Belgian television again.
A report on the launch of the book. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Liège book!

Here it is! The Urban sketchers Liège book. 
I recieved my book today, a fantastic book with drawings of Florian Afflerbach, Simo Capecchi, Fabien Denoël, Rolf Schroeter, Miguel Herranz, Lapin Barcelona, David Emdé Magli, Antoine Michel, Gérard Michel, Corinne Raes, Luis Ruiz Padrón and Inma Serrano. And I am proud that my drawings are among those of these talented sketchers.

Saturday, 21 November 2015


Painted this morning, Sander, in a life model session.
40x70cm, acrylic. Took me about an hour to make.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Liège USK book is out now!

Fantastic news! Gerard Michel made this idea come real, not only did he invite us last year on that 4 day sketching trip in Liège, but it's is now available in bookform! 200 something pages filled with the drawings of: Inma Serrano (E), Simonetta Capecchi (I), Corinne Raes (B), “Lapin” (F), Miguel Herranz (E), David Magli (F), Rolf Schröter (D), Rene Fijten (NL), Luis Ruiz (E) et Florian Afflerbach (D), Gerard Michel (B), Antoine Michel (B) and Florian (B). 
Imagine: in total 65 meter of drawings!
I haven't seen the book yet, but I am invited to the official presentation next week. I can't wait.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Wolfshagen, Germany

Quick sketch; view from my hotelroom in the Berghotel in Wolfshagen (Germany, the Harz).
I was there on business (again). I made this drawing in the early morning, just before breakfast. It was a few days before our present horrible autumn weather started, filled with storms and rain. Back then the air was bright and fresh, but windstill; the coloured leaves were still on the trees.
How quickly that all changed.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Coloured ink

An now its time for something entirely different. I bought a few bottles of coloured ink, to experiment.
Lately I am inspired by the work of the (outside Italy unknown) illustrator Sergio Toppi, and his use of (coloured) pen and ink drawings. This drawing is loosely based on a drawing of Toppi called "Dicono".
I was trying out several of his techniques, but I still have to work out and train myself on how he treats the ink. Anyway, for a first try I am pretty pleased. Not that I come close to his outstanding work, but it's a start anyway.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Volterra Leporello (3)

Here is the third installment of the Volterra Leporello.  Series of drawings of Volterra itself. The top one is the view from the "balze", a cliff on the western side of the city.
I left out one drawing, a drawing of a real original Roman theatre. But I don't like it. In each Leporello there is always one substandard drawing of which I wished I could cut it out. But that's the whole idea, you can't.
Anyway, the other view is the view fro the park Settembre XX, where you can see the houses sloping down towards the valley below.

And the final drawing is a concise plan of Volterra. 
 Enough Volterra for this year....

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Volterra leporello (2)

Here is the second set of drawings, these were made in Monteriggione.
The students had to do work there too, while we were sitting on a nice terrace in the town square.
It was a bit chilly, but a good espresso made up for that.
The top is the little medieval church, the second the bar and terrace next to the one we were sitting on.
And the bottom one the heavily guarded main entrance of the enclosed city.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Volterra leporello (1)

During the Volterra trip (already a month ago!) I was able to make a series of sketches. Like last year I decided to make leporello, but I was not able to make it as long as the previous one. Just about 2 meters.

On the top you see the total strip. I will show the different scenes in more detail one by one.
The top one is the little chapel at the Porta San Felice.
The second is the view through that same Porta.

The third scene is the view over the Tuscan hills. Furthermore a medieval carved stone, with the Volterra municipal symbols, which you can find on one of the townhouses on the main Piazza dei Priori.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Autumn in Goslar

This afternoon in Goslar, (the Hartz, Germany). I was there for a business meeting at Chemetall, a factory in Langelsheim. The meeting closed early, so I took the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful autumn weather and walk around the beautiful old city center. It was at least 17 degrees, and the brown leaves are still on the branches.
And I could not resist to make a drawing of three of the beautiful old houses, one of them the old Brauhaus.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Is there life on Mars

Experimenting with ink drawings and digital colouring. It started as a doodle during a boring lunchbreak.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Zelzate again (Belgium)

I was 15 minutes early for my appointment at a client in Ertvelde, the firm Oleon (they make bio based oils). Just along the canal at Zelzate there was this concrete remains of a passage from an abandoned factory to the waterfront on the right behind the fence.
Took me maybe 10 minutes to produce this. I was still exactly on time for my appointment.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Milan cemetery

I am not sure to post this.
It's a drawing I made (on location) on the Milan Cimitero Monumentale, but I am not satisfied with this one at all.
The first version was too warm, colourfull and unbalanced, so I added black ink. But to no avail. I decided to wash out all colour and much of the ink. The result was a greyish scene, not much value. Like through fog; quite fitting for the subject, but the drawing became unreadable.
So I added ink again. And white paint for highlights.

But still: somehow it does not work.
Any ideas what I did wrong?
How I can improve this drawing?
Please let me know!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Zelzate, Steel factory

I dew this scene before. Each time I visit the client in Ertvelde (Oleon), I drive along the canal. fascinated by the dark steelfactory across the canal. Especially when the weather is rainy and humid.
I tried my watercolourpencils again.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Expo Milan

Two sketches from the expo in Milan. There were long lines at the popular countries, so I only visited the less populated pavilions.
Above the very interesting african countries. I made this sketch at the Mauritania house. There was a group of women waiting to make henna tattoos. They saw me drawing, and offered me sweet mint tea. Very hospitable.
The other is of the Oman pavilion: a nice chance to draw something exotic without having to cross the world.