Art blog Blog 2020 Pen and ink sketches

The Cathedral in Münster

munster cathedral
Cathedral in Münster, pen and ink

The current Cathedral in Münster dates from 1265. The first church on the site was built in the 9th century and a second in the 10th or 11th, demolished to build the current structure.

It was badly damaged in WWII. It was not restored to its state before the war. The rose window has been vastly simplified, for instance.

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Bremen has been attractive to human population since circa 12,000 BCE and remains so today, with some 750,000 people. It became an important trade center due in large part to its location on the River Wesser. Interestingly it was exempt from feudal laws once it gained city status, making it a beacon of freedom in the middle ages. Property was not subject to feudal ownership, and even serfs could own property if they resided in the city for a year and a day, at which point they were freed.

By 1350 the population reached 20,000. Over the next centuries the importance of the city made it a participant in the seemingly endless upheavals and reorganizations of German states. There is a detailed account of the comings and goings at, including the notation that the first German steamship was manufactured here in 1827.

Part of the Rathaus, Town Hall. Its intricate facade 1612, the Gothic building 1405

There is a restaurant in the Rathaus featuring original decor and a huge exclusively German wine list. Included are a dozen of the oldest wines in the world in their original barrels. The building and the Roland statue are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

We visited just the old town. Less than half of its architectural wealth remains with us due to the ravages of the second war. Airplanes were manufactured here, accounting in part for it’s target status. There was a concentration camp as well. It was captured in late April 1945, becoming part of the American occupation zone, which city leaders preferred to the British.

Roland. A Roland statue was displayed in cities trading in the Hanseatic League

The donkey, dog, cat and rooster of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale.

Part of the main square, the Marktplatz

There are several impressive churches. St. Peter’s Cathedral is from the 13th century. There are sculptures of Moses, David, Peter and Paul. The Liebfrauenkirche is the oldest (11th c).  Martinikirche (St Martin’s Church) is from 1229.

We walked through the Schnoor, a neighborhood with narrow streets and small houses from the 17th and 18th century


We just had a day here as we came by train, leaving the boat at a boat club in Osnabrucke. Brennen is worthy of a longer visit.

We set aside time to visit the Kunstehall Bremen, one of the best art museums around. From its website:

“The Kunsthalle houses the extensive and diverse collection of the Kunstverein in Bremen: with European painting from the Middle Ages to the present day, international modernism, sculptures from the 16th to the 21st century and outstanding works of media art, it spans an arc from the 14th century to the present day. The Kupferstichkabinett, with its more than 220,000 drawings and prints, is one of the most important graphic collections in Europe. In permanent and temporary exhibitions, you can take an exciting journey through art history when you visit the Kunsthalle.” There is an English version of their website.

There is a rare Monet portrait, not his forte clearly but a good one nonetheless. I really liked the expressionist collection and its modern art in general. It includes Munch’s Child and Death. There are paintings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, André Derain, Juan Gris and André Masson.

If I lived here I’d be a regular visitor. Top notch curation!

blog Blog 2020

Burg Vischering

burg vischering ariel

Burg Vischering is home to the Museum of the same name. It is a castle dating from the 13th century. It is one of the most interesting castles we have visited in part due to the excellent written narrative, as well the views afforded by the attractive moat and the good condition of the structure. My remarks mostly come from the information provided on the museum’s plaques.

The first written reference is 1271, when the Bishop of Münster entrusted it to Knight Albert von Wulfheim, who was to defend the castle to assure its availability for the bishop. The primary concern was the ambition of the Hermann and Bernhard von Lüdinghausen, who resided in the nearby castles Lüdinghausen and wanted the bishop’s castle; we visited the latter, exterior only, no entry.

The castle is built on an island in the River Stever. There is a circular wall containing a courtyard with a diameter of 35 meters. The Vischering family occupied the castle starting in the 14th century. There was a major fire in the castle 1521. The subsequent rebuilding of the castle increased the living space. A staircase turret was completed in 1620, a bay window in 1622.

The Münster region is known for its many moated castles. Nordkirchen Castle is the most famous castle in the area, but is much younger, built between 1703 and 1734. There are three castles in tiny Lüdinghausen, including this one.

burg vischering2

Napoleon’s conquest completely transformed Germany. The prince-bishoprics, secular ruler combined with religious leader, were abolished. The Holy Roman Empire and the feudal system went by the wayside as well. You might think that the end of feudalism in Germany was rather late. However In Europe generally the feudal system lived on until 1861 when Russia finally gave it up.

painting of the family
The Vischering family

During the WWII the mill was destroyed, while the castle sustained considerable damaged. The castle was restored shortly after the war’s end. The castle was occupied by a family until 1968.

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View of the courtyard

The museum’s official website has a 3D presentation that gives you a good sense of what the exterior is like.

Art Pen and ink sketches

Steeple in Brandenburg, pen and ink

Brandenburg steeple sm
Steeple in Brandenburg, pen and ink, 24 x 32 cm/9.4 x 12.6″ 450gr/210 lb cold press paper
Art Pen and ink sketches People and portraits

Torrents: Book cover ideas

I recently was asked to do a book cover for a small publisher by the author who is a fan of my Music series of pen and ink drawings. These drawings are done at the Palau de la Musica in Valencia while in the audience. The lights are dimmed and typically we sit in the balcony where the sound is best. It is a fair distance from the musicians. So between the low light and the distance, I can not see the drawing I am making and the musicians are a bit on the fuzzy side, the faces and hand in particular being particularly small. Thus the results, which I do not see until the lights come up, are unpredictable and totally spontaneous. These are circumstances that are hard if not impossible to duplicate without renting the auditorium. In addition the author had a particular figure in mind and probably would not want half of him to be represented by a blind swipe with my water brush and be missing other body parts and the gesture altogether. So I had to mimic my own art under normal lighting and distance circumstances yet maintain major aspects of the figure in the photo she sent. It was a challenge, frustrating at times, but in the end she got a drawing she liked and thought would work well for her.

Here are my first versions, which is similar to the final one but which has far more detail in the background than the latter, which only has 3 shafts of light. I did not realize how stark she wanted it to be. It gives the figure so little context. But it was what she had in wind.

christian book cover 1
This figure is a bit fatter than the author wanted
christian book cover 3
I like the face on this one a bit better, about as much as the one on the final.

Both of these drawings are available for purchase.  

Art Germany

Cove in Brandenburg, pen and ink

This pen and ink is of a cove in Brandenburg, off the River Havel. Brandeburg an der Havel, the full name of the city, is one of the most charming in Germany and rivals many in Europe.

Brandenburg cove sm
Cove in Brandeburg, pen and ink, 24 x 32 cm, 9.4 x 12.6″

Barge Clears Canal

An unattended barge on the Mitteland Kanal came loose from its moorings, blocking the canal. Behind us there was a barge who apparently had been contacted and asked to push the barge back to the dock. I videoed the process.

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Entering a lock

I filmed this video as we were entering a lock on the Mittleland Kanal in Germany. I had to stop as we were close to docking as I need both hands and sometimes more to get us to the side of the lock where we can secure the boat for the ride up or down.

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Pergamon: The Panorma

Pergamon Museum houses artifacts from Pergamon, an ancient Greek and later Roman city in what is now Turkey.  In the 1880’s a German archaeologist came across workers breaking down marble columns and carvings to use as fuel.  He made arrangements with the Ottomans to excavate the site and share the finds.  The most fabulous find was the Pergamon Altar (180–160 BCE).   It is a frieze depicting the Olympian gods fighting giants.  This and other monumental and daily life aspects of Pergamon are the subject of a 50 meter high 360 ° panorama by Yadegar Asisi.  The panorama can be viewed most dramatically from a five story staircase erected for the purpose.  From the top the ceiling towers above and spreads out to near floor level. 



As you view the various areas the sun moves overhead until night falls and the sun rises again.


The famous altar is visible but very difficult to photograph well, not that any of it was easy for non-professionals . The relief was vividly painted when first complete. They show it that way.

The Altar

The altar is a scene of animal sacrifices and burning fires. People congregate for leisure activities or work. A slave market is on-going. The crowd murmurs in the background. Trajan is visiting.

Gary-Bob says check it out-  even if there nothing else to see in Berlin, this alone would make the journey worthwhile.  

blog Blog 2020


Potsdam, the residence of the Kaiser until 1918, was planned on the ideas of the enlightenment “…through a careful balance of architecture and landscape.” (Wiki) It is indeed a lovely city with some magnificent architecture, including Charlottenburg Palace with its surprisingly attractive decoration, paintings and objects. The city borders what was once called West Berlin.

On the Havel River

The area has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The city was established by Slavs in the 7th century.  The earliest written reference dates to 972.  It was granted a  town charter in 1345. By the late 1800’s it was a steel producer and for that became a major target of the Allies in WWII.

The surrounding area has many lakes and the views from the river are quite lovely. The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof Palace. Babelsberg is a major film studio and has been an important studio since the fall of the wall, when this region joined Western Germany. The city is home to the University of Potsdam, three colleges and many research institutes. The Glienicke Bridge is also called the Bridge of Spies. It connected Potsdam to West Berlin, where exchanges of spies took place.

Sansoucci Palace is a World Heritage Site, I believe for its magnificent and large gardens.

Sansouci Palace

Sansouci Palace gardens
The Nieuw Tower
Bridge of Spies

The Alter Markt (Old Market) contains several magnificent buildings on a large square adjoining the Havel River.

St. Nicholas’ Church and the New Palace on the Alter Markt

Charlottenburg Palace is far more opulent than I expected. The Prussian kings were comparatively minor in the history of Europe. They managed to filch quite the fortune to build this joint.

Chapel of the Charlottenburg Palace
Organ in the Chapel
The huge crown

Getting around by bike is quite pleasant. There are bike paths most everywhere. We used them to see the Dutch section, with houses in the Dutch style. The parks are peaceful and aplenty. The marina is well located and very near tram lines, which we used to visit the Russian section, where there are a half dozen or so old wooden houses in excellent condition.

There was more to see and much to do than we allocated time for, as we are on to Berlin!