Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sinterklaas 2013

Like every year we have a tradition in the Netherlands, called Sinterklaas.
With Sinterklaas (on December 5th) presents are given to
children and family. It's what other countries do at Christmas.
When children get older, some families also exchange surprise presents, combined with elaborate poems, in which you are able to make fun of someone.

In our family it grew as a tradition that I do all the surprise presents. Here are the five for this year.
Mart: a toilet brush converted into a purple Christmas tree for his new house.
Brenda: a 12 page full spread glossy with fake articles featuring her: you can see her laughing at reading.
Rianne: a bird house with her new young cat (Sammie) in it.
Bob: a miniature lawn, to study gardening. Seeds were incorporated. They want to convert their paved backyard into something green next year.
Gertie: a coloured glass orthodontic set of teeth (set in lead). She may need braces next year.

So much for the presents of this year.  

Friday, 27 December 2013

Stolberg roofs

Last Saturday I took an afternoon to drive around and sketch. After the sketch of the trucks (see a few posts back) I tried to go to Aachen. But I had forgotten it was the last Saturday before Christmas, where everyone in Germany buys presents. Trafficjams. So I drove to Stolberg, hidden in the steep Eiffel hills. This is the view from the Castle, over the roofs of old Stolberg. The cold was bearable, as I stood covered from the chilly wind.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Best wishes

Best wishes for Christmas and the new year, from Gertie and me.

I made the above two drawings a few weeks ago in a collaborative project starting from Sketching Workshop.
Some 40 artists joined to make one or two 300x300pix drawings, which were assembled by Laura F. Vasques (Boston) into a Christmas card.

Internet makes for inspiring ideas!

Monday, 23 December 2013


Art class, (live) portrait painting of our model, Anke. We had to glue coloured paper at random, and use these surfaces within the portrait. All meant to learn to loosen up the use of colour and texture. Harder than it looks. Acrylic paint over coloured paper, size 50x60. Took me about an hour to make. Below a picture of the starting point.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Dodge 1948 schoolbus

At last, some time to get on the road and spend it sketching on location!
I found these old trucks on a parkinglot in an industrial zone in Heerlen (de Kissel). The owner imports them from the States and resells them to vintage car restorers. I chatted with him, and he told me these trucks are very hard to find nowadays.  The bus is a Dodge 1948 schoolbus. The truck is probably a 1952 Ford F2.
I had wanted to finish the left part of the bus as well, but my hands were too cold to proceed. I decided to leave the drawing this way.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Light in the dark

No time to draw or even to spend a lot of time on blogs and Internet. Busy, like always this time of year. I experimented a little with my camera, always hoping something interesting comes out of that. Hopefully more time next week.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

No Right Turn, Chapter 3: The Run

This Comic Noir that I strated by accident, is turning into something incredible. The book is already 21 pages, containing 17 specifically made drawings, from sketchers all over the world. London, Sweden, Tunesia, Argentina, Boston, Los Angeles, Malaysia, and I probably forgot some.

The fist chapter was "the yellow box", a dangerous woman keeping a yellow box.
The second chapter is "Chinatown". which ended in a samurai sword attack.
And now I started the chapter "the run" with Police car chases.
You can find the assembled and regularly updated comic here:

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Slot Zeist

Here is a quick sketch of last week, one I didn't have time to post yet. Too busy with work, burglar aftermath, moving my son to another apartment, my wife's birthday and Christmas/Sinterklaas preparations. December.
I made this one in the dark, that's why I used black/white. I had no idea about the colour, but could see enough for the shapes of things. And all the time a little girl with a dog called Nielsson chatted with me. One of those little elements that I keep remembering when I look at the drawing.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Ricardo Frederiks, a 19 year old student from Heerlen, asked me to make a front for a book he is going to publish: "Een te grote pot voor een Asperger".
To be translated as: "a far too large jar for an asperger".
The book describes the life of a boy with the Asperger syndrome, a form of autistic behaviour.
Even though it's not strictly autobiographic, he has the syndrome himself, so he drew from experience.

He was very precise about what he wanted me to draw: the jar without lid, the shadowlike persons, the dark and stark urban buildings. He explained that he feels like being in a jar, and the rest of the world is behind the glass.
And it's not that he feels locked in or confided, but more like curious how life is outside that jar, without wanting to be there.

The only request I could not provide was drawing him much smaller, as a tiny person in that jar.
In that case I would have been unable to give him that expression of "feeling at ease", looking outside curiously (at least that's what I tried).

The page is how it will look like more or less, the graphic design is still on the way.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Robbed again

Our house was broken into again yesterday evening. These are the footsteps of the burglar in the flowerbeds in the back garden, that I found this morning.
A lot of damage, hardly any loot. The third time in 10 years, and they never ever got away with a much loot here.
When will these idiots understand we don't own expensive jewellery, bars of gold or stashes of banknotes.

Friday, 29 November 2013


Went to a congress centre near Utrecht this week for a two day course in sustainability.
The centre was located in the woods, very beautiful. But the days are dark, not much chance to make walks and enjoy the park.
Except the first morning, I was able to make a walk and a little quick sketch of an old tree trunk loaded with mushrooms.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


For the first time we had a live nude male model. I never realised it was so different to draw than women. But very intersting to do.
This is the result: pastel, washed out with water on prepared paper, 50x70cm. One hour to draw.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

No right turn, a new chapter

The 8th pane of the collaborative comic noir "No Right Turn". A new chapter, a new twist, a new colour.
The last 7 panes were all set in the venetian blinds office in yellow colours. I found it time to change the scene, and leave the cliffhanger of the yellow box to add to the suspense. And I was a little fed up with the colour. So I made this panel to set new rules.
It was based on a 5 year old Urban sketch I made during our New York visit, in Chinatown, Doyers street.
I am totally surprised about the outcome of this accidental project,the twists and turns and creativity of the project. What more to come?
For the past panels: I keep the issue publication posted a few days ago up to date.

Saturday, 23 November 2013


Haven't done a decent Urban sketch lately, for almost a month now. It's very busy at work, dark when I leave for work, dark when I get home. And weekends filled with social activities. I am not complaining, but just stating the reason why I can't go out and sketch. Actually the weather hasn't been that bad for autumn. 
But wednesday afternoon I had some time after an appointment. This is the village of Vaesrade. In het youth my mother in law lived in the house behind the tree, opposite the church.
And Florence, another limbudedicated (french) urban sketcher, lives around the corner as well.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

No Right Turn

I made this drawing of Cienega Boulevard, and it unexpectedly turned into an international collaborative "Comic Noir". I made an Issuu publication of the Comic so far (7 drawings at the moment of this post), with drawings from the Netherlands, London, Boston, Los Angeles, Sweden and so on.
Fascinating, as the story is invented on the way!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Progressing slowly

Finally, the painted pieces for this stained glass window are ready. They were burned into the glass last week. I can put the pieces into the lead now. Still a few weeks work to go.

Monday, 18 November 2013

"No right turn": Jim + Laura

This is getting somehwere incredible.
The comic noir "No right turn", which started a week ago with my "Cienega boulevard drawing".
All kinds of artists all over the world took up the challenge to draw next panes and invent the storyline as we go.
The bottom drawing is the one posted yesterday from Jim Scheel, Los Angeles.
Obove the chilling twist of plot by Laura F. Vasquez from Boston.
It is a little peculiar to put these drawings in this order, but as this is a blog, the newest drawing is always positioned highest.
So if you want to read the story start at the drawing that started all this:

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Live portrait class, pastel on prepared paper 40x60cm. This is Jelle, the son of Annemiek who leads this masterclass.
I made three drawings in 2 hours. The idea was to use layers of pastels and wash it out with water. I prepared the paper with acryl binder, to avoid that the pastel soaks too quickly into the paper.
With this one I decided to stop after 20 minutes. I had the feeling I would only spoil it if I would go on. Sometimes you feel lucky when a drawing works out like this.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

"No Right Turn": my turn

The 3rd pane of the collaborative "Comic Noir" called "No Right Turn".
This one is mine. I made the story twist towards a private eye story in Raymond Chandler tradition.
Sketcher Jim Scheel from Los Angeles is busy making the fourth pane.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

"No right turn": Cat Andrew

Here is a post I did NOT make: a fantastic drawing by Cat Andrew, from London I believe.
Here's the story: I posted my Cienega boulevard drawing on a Facebooksite called Sketching Workshop, a sketch exchange site hosted by Jorge Royan.
Cat liked my drawing and remarked that it would be fit for a Comic Noir. So she made this panel.
Someone called it "No right turn" which seemd fitting enough. Isn't this great?
My next pane will be shown here tomorrow. Where will this lead to?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Siberisch krijt

Model painting class, after a live model. 50x70cm, pastels in earthcolours with siberisch krijt (which is charcoal mixed with clay and water, and pressed into bars; it give a very deep black lines).
It took about an hour to make.

Friday, 8 November 2013

No right turn: La Cienega

I am lagging behind with the Timeline series (on the 15th of each month I choose a picture to redraw).
I already picked the photographs, but I didn't take the time to redraw them yet.
On the 15th of July we were travelling through California, no newspaper, no Internet. So I picked from my own photographs, one that I made one night on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Don't ask me why, but this is my favourite photo of the trip. Just a parked yellow schoolbus in the yellow neonlight. I am seriously considering to turn this into a painting.
New developments around this drawing: it turned into a first page of a comic noir: "No right turn". See the following posts!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Yesterday I finished painting the difficult pieces of my stained glass in-progress: the drapes and curtains.
I still have to do the middle part: the tower of babel itself. It took me about 3 hours to do the white and red parts.
So hopefully next week the pieces can go into the oven to be burnt onto the glass.

Monday, 4 November 2013

30 seconds to Mars

Yesterday evening my wife Gertie, my daughter Rianne and I went to a concert of the rockband "30 seconds to Mars", In Cologne.
A memorable concert.
It's a pity they started very late, there was almost an hour waiting between the support act "you me at six" (not half bad for a warming up band) and the concert itself. But the performance made it all worth while. Jared Leto is a very charismatic performer. And musician. And songwriter. And actor. And director. A multi-talent.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Sketches from my father, 1949

Last weekend my mother had an unexpected surprise: while cleaning up the attic she found an old travel journal of my father.
The journal contained a detailed description of a visit my father made to a family in Cambridge (UK), just after the war, back in 1949.
And to my surprise: it included 21 sketches of buildings, people and items like a television (which he had never seen before! See sketch above).

During the war some English soldiers were interned in my grandfathers house, and over the years both families kept contact.
My father was invited to visit them in 1949, when he was about to start his study as teacher in English and history. He was 19 years old at the time.
I knew he had made that trip, he had told me about it, but I can't remember that I ever saw that journal.  
Now I know from whom I inherited my drawing skills. Of course I always knew that my father was very creative: he could make anything he saw from wood. But I have never seen him draw or paint.
I would have loved to share this with him, but he deceased back in 1999; we still miss him every day.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Opa en Oma Schrijen

A commission for a close friend, one that I know since primary school. A portrait of both her (late) parents, based on a photograph. It was the first time I made an oilpainting based on a picture. Difficult because compared to live painting the 3rd dimension is missing. Luckily the picture was very good, it had lively shadows.
But I was very unsure if I caught the essence of both their faces.
I should not have worried. Carina's reaction when she saw the painting this evening told me that I caught the resemblance very well.
 Here is the original picture.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Zeist Town hall

Zeist, this weekend. Our room on the 4th floor of the Figi hotel gave view to the Zeist town hall across the street. I seem to be lucky with my hotelrooms lately...
Anyway, it took a few stolen minutes in the early morning, just before breakfast, to make the ink drawing. I did the painting at home: the weekend was meant for me and my wife, not for my sketchbooks.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Clarenburg, Utrecht

My wife Gertie and I had a nice weekend in Zeist and Utrecht. We had the most perfect weather on Saturday, I can't remember these high temperatures so late in October. I made this quick sketch sitting on a terrace of a café on "achter Clarenburg" in the citycenter.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Moss garden

I bought a white coloured Posca Marker lately, but I hadn't used it so far.
Yesterday I made a scribble on a yellow post-it, and decided to improvise some more with other materials, like standard office red fineliners (non-waterproof), sepia pentel brush washed out with a nylon waterbrush, black ink pen. Later I added some white touches with the marker. Promising materials.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

More sketchcrawl Maastricht

 Sketchcrawl Maastricht.
The results of the first hour or so, sitting along the river Maas.
Later we went to the market where I made the drawing of the last post.
On the top you see Agnes, Koosje, Jacqueline en Herman.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sketchcrawl Maastricht

I organized the Sketchcrawl Maastricht last Saturday, and we had the most beautiful weather. Autumn; but still 19 to 20 degrees, windstill and a feeble sun. All we can hope for in late October.
There were 21 other sktechers, some from Limburg, but also from other parts of the country like Twello, Tilburg, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. And Annette from Hamme (Germany) was also there.

It was really enjoyable sketching together, first along the river, and later on the Market square. There is a nice old statue there of the "Mooswief". That translates as "vegetal woman", and commemorates the farmer women who would come from the neighbouring villages to the market selling their homegrown crops (mostly unions, leek and cabbage). People will sit around the fountain and eat French fries in large paper "tuute", from the renowned "Friture Reitz".

Friday, 18 October 2013

Farmall F20

Handwritten letters, you don't get them nowadays anymore. But I recieved one this week from Delft, which has nothing to do with this drawing, except that the request in that letter reminded me of an unfinished drawing from our USA trip. 
This sketch was not in one of my sketchbooks, but on a loose sheet of watercolour paper (Schut 300gr/m2), that's why I had forgotten about it. The paper has a vivid grained texture, I don't always like that. But the paper behaves well with the colours. You can see the unfinished version below. I finished the sketch yesterday evening.
It's an old rusty tractor of the brand Farmall, dating from about 1930. Type F20 (you can find anything on Google these days).
It stood next to some other carwrecks and old farmstuff at Ruby's Inn, where we stayed after our visit to Bryce Canyon, Utah.
That evening I took the opportunity to make some sketches, see also

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Alaaf Gebrook

And another series of my drawings was used for a website. This time for the local Carnaval website.
It's called Alaaf Gebrook.
I am not sure how to translate the word "Alaaf". It's typical for these parts, up to Cologne in Germany, and you use it like the spanish word Olé. To be used as greeting, exclamation or expression of approval or enthousiasm. But only at Carnaval.

"Gebrook" is the local lingo for Hoensbroek.

The link:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bettery magazine

One of my drawings was used in an article in the online "Bettery Magazine" about recharging the Urban Mind.
They do articles on International Urban living.

The article was about China Miéville, one of my favourite authors. I have reread his "the City and the City" a few times, still amazing.
Here is a link to the article.
(written by Lars Schmeink).
The original drawing from 2011:

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Hortensia (Hydrangea macrophylla) retrieved from our own garden. We have a lot of them, at least 15 different ones. Beautiful plants, especially in this season, when the colour deepen en change with the changing weather.
Yes, autumn started this week, with rain, cold and a lot of wind. A good reason to stay inside for drawing...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Essen Hauptbahnhof

The view from my room in the Mövenpick hotel in Essen, Germany. An early morning view to the tunnel under the Hauptbahnhof (the main trainstation).

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Back to normal office desk life. This is an old farmhouse in a hamlet called Hunnecum, near Nuth. I pass it every day on my way to work in Maastricht.
The farm is probably some 200-300 years old. The horizontal stripes are red masonry layers in between rows of yellow sandstone. The sandstone was hauled from subterranean caves in Valkenburg, nearby.
They did that layering because the sandstone was expensive and the brickwork cheap but not strong enough. So, this layering was an economical solution to a structural problem, and looking nice as a result.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Not a through street

Just wanted to share this picture, one that I made walking back to the hotel in Los Angeles.
It was made by pure accident, I didn't even know that I had pushed the camera button until the next day.
It has been my desktop picture since our return back home.
Well, so much for trying hard to make good pictures; sometimes sheer coincidence makes better ones.....