Sunday, 31 August 2014

Moving to Meers

We had some tough weekends lately. Our daughter Rianne and her soon-to-be husband Bob (the wedding will be in three weeks......) bought a house in Meers. It's along the river Maas, near the Belgian border, some 20 km from our house.
That was a lot of work: the house stood empty for 2 years before being sold: the garden was full of weeds and the house was full of debris and dust.
Last weekend Bob and I laid the laminate floors, and even though the house is far from finished, it was fit enough to move in yesterday.
A small step for mankind, a big step for dad.
I was exhausted, fell asleep above the newspaper at 9 yesterday evening.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

More Tarbes

One evening in Tarbes I wanted to go out and draw something. Anything.
I found this quiet spot in a small sidestreet, and worked with my watercolour pencils.
It was some old, now deserted workshop from the early 20th century.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Utah beach

Two leftover sketches from the invasion beaches of Normandy, these are from Utah beach.
There are a lot of ancient WW2 tanks, boats and planes at display, in museums and set up as monuments.
The Sherman tank was at display on the invasion beach itself, just as if it had conquered the dunes on D-day.
The plane is a restored DC3 Dakota, in the museum of Ste Mère Eglise.

It seems weird to draw war machines in these troubled times, when wars seem to flare up all around us.
At least on this D-day it was clear which side was the good guys.
Who can tell today? 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Tarbes foodmarket

It's difficult to draw people without them realizing you do it. I usually set myself up quietly, with my back against a wall in the shade or something like that. Then I wait a few minutes before I unpack my stuff. It gives time to observe and look around, and to blend in.
This is a local foodmarket in Tarbes (France), held every morning next to the exit of a multi-story parking.
I think these are private farmers, because they sell only small stuff: 10 tomatoes, a few flowers and a box filled with peaches, garlic or unions.
It was next to the hotel I used to go a few years ago with a huge building project. I've drawn here before.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Eating mountains

Just a few km on the other side of our border with Germany huge machines roam and eat the landscape like giant dinosaurs. No joke.
It's an open browncoal mine, used to produce electricity, and vast areas (50 km2!) are being excavated. Countless villages had to be moved for this project
These machine are huge, 100 meter high and 240 meter long. 
I made this drawing for a friend of mine who organizes a vintage car tour (MGs) in the area around the excavation. The image was used as sign.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Le Mont St. Michel

My drawings from our holiday trip through France are not in chronological order, but who cares.
I made this drawing on the last days in Normandy, it's the island Le Mont St. Michel. Even though its riddled with tourists, it's still a fantastic town. We spend a whole day there, climbing the steep roads, monasteries and remparts. My company was patient enough to let me draw this scene, as we were sitting on the new (but not yet finished) pedestrian bridge running from the coast to the town.
At least it protected me from being overrun by tourist busses.

Monday, 18 August 2014

La Roque Gageac

We just had a nice lunch with some white wine on a terrace below the rocks, overlooking the river Dordogne. There was a parkbench on the riverbank, and I took the opportunity to make this sketch on location. I had just changed the ink in the fountainpen, but I guess there was still some non-waterproof ink left in the nib. Some linework has bled a little.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Glass Icarus

I finished the glass object "Icarus" just before the holiday, but had some finishing to do.
Like painting the eye and glueing and treating the cherrywood base.
Here is Icarus in full extent. About 40cm high.
I also fixed the hardstone base of the Chameleon: here you see all recent glasswork objects together.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

St. Pierre at Huppain

A holiday sketch from Normandy. We were staying in a little house in a park at Port le Bessin, in a hamlet called Huppain, just between Omaha and Gold beaches. There was a little church around the corner, St. Pierre, from the 11th or 12th century. One evening I went over for this on-location drawing, trying out my new watercolourpencils with a little water. I tried making subtle tones.
The only thing I forgot, which would have made this perfect drawing evening even better, was a small bottle of wine....

Monday, 11 August 2014

Jorge Royan

Jorge Royan, a collegue architect from Argentina, age 61, died unexpectedly last thursday August 7th.
He was a short period with Urban Sketchers, but left due to differences in opinion. He started a Facebook group called "Sketching Workshop. The aim of the group was learning and improving by discussing each others drawings.
He asked me to join, to post, help and comment on others. Quickly the group developed into a very active community of 150, with activities like Comics (which I hosted), portraits, drawing games, maps, online chats and interviews and many more.
I had long chats with him, but never had to chance to meet him in person.
He left a family of a wife, three daughters and a son. He will be missed.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sainte Mère-Église

More sketches from the D-day beaches in Normandy.
We also visited Sainte Mère Eglise, the town where the 101st airborne landed. They are well known because of the (excellent) TV-series "Band of brothers". And of course the part of John Wayne in the movie "the longest day".
We visited the museum there, quite impressive, especially when you realise the gliders were built from a few tubes, plywood and textile fabric. They someone got out alive is a wonder in itself.
Above sketch is the backpack as being worn by a paratrouper. It was on display in the cemetery in Colleville.
The other is the churchtower of Sainte Mère Église, a paratrooper got stuck on the steeple and became deaf of the ringing churchbells. I had full view from a nice sunny terrace on the other side of the street, while enjoying a nice café esprès. What a difference with 70 years ago.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Body Worlds, Amsterdam

Body Worlds (formerly Körperwelten) is an anatomy exhibition in Amsterdam. It used to be a travelling exhibition, which we visited before in Cologne and Antwerp, but it has a permanent location in Amsterdam now.
I would like to state that I have my reservations about this show. They use real corpses, which are treated with a kind of plastic, and then cut up to show the insides. It's hard to realise these have been living men and women. I also would like to add that the persons involved have volunteered to be displayed like this.
Having said this, it's quite interesting to see how we people are built up: it's unbelievable how intricate our body is put together. And how can such a complicated system be reproduced, again and again, generation after generation. And grow, maintain and repair itself.
Each time I see it, I stand in awe.

Anyway, there was an artist day, a special day enabling artists to draw and study the subjects.
This is one of the sketches. Arches paper, 70x33cm, watercolour pencil (Faber-CAstell) and waterbrush.
I had to scan the drawing in parts, and fit them together with GIMP software. Still, the top of the drawing is missing.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Ford T 1913

I have a lot more drawings of my Holidays, but here is a quick in between drawing from this morning.
The central library of Maastricht has an exposition on the involvement of Maastricht in the first World War.
The Netherlands were neutral during 1914-1918, but the war raged in full force just 5 kilometers south of Maastricht, across the Belgian border. The German Kaiser only wanted to reach France by crossing Belgium, there was no need to provoke the Netherlands as well. So they sticked to Belgian terrain, even made a difficult and expensive railway just 1 km south of the border at Moresnet.
This model T from 1913 was used for the transport of injured.
The picture shows the materials I used for this one: a Moleskine watercolourbook, a mechanical pencil, a Lamy fountain pen with Noodlers grey ink, and a 12 pan watercolour box (van Gogh).

Monday, 4 August 2014

Elzie L. North, PFC, 116th Infantry, 29th div.

70 years ago a guy called Elzie L. North, age 22, from Duval county Florida, died in Normandy France.
He gave his life a few day after D-day, during the invasion in Normandy.
Just a Private First Class of the U.S. Army,116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division.
He is buried in Plot J, Row 18, Grave 14. Among  9.385 others who gave their life to defend our freedom. What can you say if someone is prepared to risk his life for the benefit of others, that he didn't even know, in places that he never heard of.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Roque Gageac

Les hauts de Gageac. That is the name of the Chambres d'hotes that we stayed in during our visit to the Dordogne valley. The house is located just above the beautiful town of Roque Gageac, just below Sarlat.
It's a beautiful region with steep cliffs, numerous medieval castles, countless caves and baffling views.
And the warm reception we got in this place was staggering.
It's an 220 year old house, beautifully restored and refurbished by the French owners. They have three rooms to offer, one even better than the other. We enjoyed the stay and the warmth of the company of Christine Balhoul and her husband. I can and will recommend this place for anyone up for real French hospitality at its best.