Wandering about the Netherland east, part 1

It’s been more than a six weeks since we returned to the Netherlands. Since then we have been to one charming, prosperous looking village and lovely quiet countryside mooring after another. I have come to see why so many Dutch boaters have little need to take their boats to other countries. You walk or bike past rows of Golden Age (17thc) houses, their tall peaks and false fronts sometimes leaning forward. Each town has a church with a tall tower and a town hall with brightly colored wooden shutters contrasting with the brick construction. Water scenes from the thousands of kilometers of canals,lakes and seas. Boats, barges and ships push through the waters and moor in towns, canals and lakes. And much much more. Then there is the friendly bi-lingual often tall and blond people, who switch to answer you in English, often seamlessly. And it’s a hearty cuisine with lots of fried fish and fried potatoes, sate (peanut sauses), white asparagus, mustard soup, meat balls, hearty seedy breads and crackers, appelgebak mit slagroom (apple pie with thick whipped cream) and other excellent sweets. (Photos mostly by Peg)

We came first to Doesburg, which I mentioned in a previous post. Doesburg has been an important fortified city for a long time due to its position near the intersection of the Ijyssel and the Oude (Old) Ijssel. Martin Kerk (church) has a tower that measures 94 meters tall. Doesburg was a fortified city until 1923.

Martin Kerk
The old City Hall

Near the Old City Hall we ordered mustard soup, a regional favorite. There are many versions of mustard soup. Mustard, cream, stock, maybe bits of ham. Our favorite had bits of serrano ham. You gotta like mustard though! The town is home to the Vinegar and Mustard Factory, which has a small exhibit. It was founded in the early part of the 19th century and looks it in a well preserved way of course.

Many of these small towns have sculptures similar in style to this one.
Mustard soup with a bit of flavorful although not super crusty bread. The bread in the country is generally quite hearty, tasty and often seedy.

Deventer came next, also on the Ijssel River, a town dating from around 750 CE. It was looted and set afire by the Vikings in 882, after which they added a defensive earthen wall where now you find Stenen Wal  street. You can seem the remains of the wall. Deventer was home to the Bretheren of the Common Life, a religious philosophy that had some lasting influence. It was among the first to house a printing presses. A Latin School became internationally renowned, and remained in service in changing forms until 1971. Erasmus attended the school.

We approach Deventer, a great view you can only get from the water
deventer city hall
Deventer’s gorgeous City Hall

We stayed a night in Hasselt, after one on Lake Streng, a lovely rural spot just outside of Zwolle, which we stopped in twice last year. Zwolle has much more to offer but we’d not seen Hasselt, and besides Zwolle’s finger piers are risky plus you have to climb a ladder to get to the street. We stayed in the marina in Hasselt, there being no alternative. Like the other towns, Hasselt has been around for 1000 years or so, getting city rights in the 13th c.

From our boat you see this as you enter Hasselt
Lovely downtown Hasselt

Meppel is the newest town in the area, coming into being in the 16th century as a result of the peat trade, the norm here.

mepel windmill
Entering Mepple you get a glimpse of the old windmill
mepple boats
Harbor in Mepple

We met up with Kees and Ada in De Alde Feanen National Park , after spending a night in Lauwersmeer at a nice spot near the dike at the northernmost part of the country. Just us and two other boats were way out here.

boats in the park5
Watercolor sketch of our mooring in Lauwersmeer at sunset

Kees and Ada were waiting for us a bit off the Queen Wilhamena Canal, on a side shoot of a side shoot. We enjoyed great conversations and always get boating tips from them. Ada is excellent at spotting flaws with our lines and fenders. Kees knows these boats well, having owned one for about 60 years. We enjoyed wonderful meals and snacks with them for the next 12 days. Ada is a very good cook. One night we had whitlof (Belgian endive) wrapped in ham, topped with a cream sauce. Another time we had white asperagus.

After two days on this lovely rural spot we took the Queen Wilhamena Canal to Goredijk. I’ll start there with the next post. I wrote about Arnheim here It came just after Doesburg.

Art Pen and ink sketches

Boats in Blokzijl drawing

This is a scene from one of the side canals in Blokzijl.

blokzijl boats sm
Boats in Blokzijl, pen and ink, 9.4 x 12.6″ /

Hanover by Moonlight

hanover by moonlight sm
Hanover ny Moonlight, acrylics, 20 cm x 20 cm, 8 x 8″

On the way to Berlin on the Mittelland Kanal we stopped in this historic city. Kids dove off the bridge until the sun set, then the moon took over.

Art Pen and ink sketches

Arnhem Gate, pen and ink

arnhem gate sm

This gorgeous gate is called Sabelspoort. It is only one of the four medieval city gates that remain.

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.

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.

Art People and portraits

Portrait of Young Woman II

Portrait of a Young Woman II, acrylics, 55 x75 cm, 23 x 30″ acrylics on Canson

Looking again to capture the image and personality of this attractive and strong young woman, I again was inspired by the principles of portraiture laid out by Rembrandt.