Friday, 15 October 2010


I finally managed to finish something again. And it was about time too. For the first time I painted rose hips with my watercolours. I already did hips in graphite, coloured pencils and even with pen & ink. But never watercolour. The Botanical Artists forum on Facebook has a bunch of very active and motivating members and when one starts to paint apples, we all start to paint apples. When one mentions she wants to paint hips I too want to paint hips.... It's fun though, to see all the different approaches to the same subject.

For the first time. And it was nice work. I really enjoyed doing it. I chose the tiny hips of Rosa 'Francis E. Lester'. This rose blooms with many clouds of small flowers during the summer and gets an enormous amount of orange hips in Autumn.

This is on Lanaquarelle HP, paper size 4"x 6".

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901

Today I bought 11 Caran d'Ache Luminance coloured pencils to test them. They are so expensive and I wanted to know if it's worth all the money. I bought really soft colours... almost whites, a light blue and a wonderful shade of Olive Brown. My favourites are Olive Brown 10% and Raw umber 10%. Very usable. I found them very easy to blend and they also mix well (blue and yellow actually make green, which isn't always the case). The leads are soft and give a nice smooth, rich colour. On the other hand, making a thin transparent layer was easy too which is good when you have to put on many layers. Downside is that you can't read well the silver colour numbers, but that's just a little thing (although it is a bit frustrating when you use many similar colours at the same time). I didn't test them in combination with my Faber-Castells or Prismacolors yet. But I'm really looking forward to it.On the Caran d'Ache website is a very nice colour-chart it's just a bit too small for me. I wish they had put the chart there that you can see in the photo here, at the start of this blog (click the photo to see it larger). I'll have to see how many colours are really different and usable in botanical art. €3,50 ($3.33 or £2.65) is really a lot of money to spend on one pencil. So that huge tin must be a really generous gift for Christmas or maybe I'll limit my wishlist to just a few more colours. I'm really curious about the greens and the black.....

Monday, 16 August 2010

I'm on Zazzle

You can now buy some nice things with my artwork on it at my Zazzle store. There's not much there yet but I promise to fill it up soon. So if you're looking for a nice gift or you need a really fancy apron, come on over and make me a rich woman ;)

Shop other personalized gifts from Zazzle.

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Clematis 'Black Prince'

I've been so busy lately with a lot of things. Most of them had nothing to do with botanical painting, drawing or gardening. A bad thing, although the other things had to be done too. Last week we had a week off. We went on holiday, away from home and all the things that still need to be done here. We went to museums, slept a lot, visited my parents in law and I celebrated my birthday. All in all another busy week. But this was fun.

I actually found some time to draw a bit again. It had been ages since I made my last pen and ink botanical and I really felt like doing one now. Another artist, Michael Murillo from the US, asked me if I would like to trade drawings. I saw a nude sketch he made and I was impressed. I really loved it. He wanted to give me that sketch and trade it for one of mine. I don't have a lot of sketches. At least I don't think they are worth a trade. So I thought this pen drawing could be nice for him if he liked it. He did. So I started dotting this amazing deep purple violet Clematis viticella 'Black Prince' from my mother's garden. It was so much fun and so relaxing to do. Yesterday I finished it and here's the result. I think I might stipple another drawing soon.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Wild thing

Grass vetchling ~ Lathyrus nissolia

I finally found some time this week to make a (little bit) larger painting. It's only bigger in paper size, not in subject. This is a Grass Vetchling (almost sounds like some sort of bird). The Latin name is Lathyrus nissolia and its a rare and protected plant in the Netherlands. As you can see the flowers are very similar to other peas. The biggest difference is the foliage. It's a really grassy plant and it doesn't climb like most Lathyrus' do.

It's really thin and there's a lot of white left on the page, as you can see. It was difficult though. The stems are long and thin and I'm not very good at painting straight lines. So I took it really slow. I did manage to give all the lines a shadow part. And for the flowers I got the colour right. The pods were so nice to paint, that was really fun :)

Now I hear you all ask me "Where does this lovely vetchling grow???" Well, I'll tell you.... roadsides, grain fields, woodlands and dykes. Sunny, warm, more or less open places slightly moist, moderately fertile to fertile, slightly acid to often chalky, grassy soil. Plenty of places like that but it's a rare little beauty nonetheless :(

I wish I had this near my house so I could paint a bigger painting with a few sprigs, dancing together. But this must do for now. A lovely elegant wild thing.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Akebia and a fuzzy practice

My Akebia quinata drawing is still not finished but I'll give you a nice scan of how it looks now. Here it is:

It's so nice to work with graphite again. Now I'll tell you a little about my technique because some people think it is only a very light touch. It is a bit maybe but most important is to use many different kinds of pencils. I use very hard ones (4H) and very soft ones(6B) and some in between of course. One of the most important things is to keep a sharp pencil at all times. So when I draw I have the pencil in my right hand and my manual sharpener in my left. I'm sharpening all the time.
Like in my coloured pencil drawings I layer a lot. In this way I can controle the lights and darks. To make a very smooth looking finish I use a hard pencil or I use a blending stump depending on what effect is needed. Most used tool to get a perfect drawing is my kneadable eraser. I use it all the time, to lift graphite, to add texture, to clean the paper....
Ah, and if you want to make a drawing like this too, be sure to use very smooth paper. I used Bristol for this one but there are other papers that are a bit more creamy and also very smooth.

Now, enough about that... Yesterday I had a bit of time to make a fuzzy Stachys leaf.

It's not a great botanical but I wanted to try out a fuzzy looking texture with my coloured pencils. Last year, when I tried it, I totally failed. I think now it's looking better. Not as good as I had in mind, but it's progress.

This afternoon I want to try out a technique I have in my head to make white flowers with coloured pencils. I never tried this technique so I don't know if it will work at all. In my mind it works very well... now let's see if it works in reality ;)

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Akebia and others....

It has been too long since I've posted something here. But.... I've been busy. I went on a botanical painting course of five days in Leiden. My tutor was Anne Marie Evans and I learnt a lot that week. We painted tulips. I guess tutors from abroad want to see tulips when they come to Holland. Last year, Valerie Oxley started her course with (yellow) tulips. I just hope this is not becoming a trend. I like tulips, don't get me wrong, I like them in a garden or a vase. Not to paint them. But I think I'm repeating myself, I told you all this before, didn't I?

Anyway.... I painted a botanical tulip, Tulipa turkestanica. It didn't make things easier for me (this one had five flowers instead of one and was almost white) but it looked far more interesting that most of the other tulips. Well it did for me, don't know about the other students ;) Here's what the painting looked like at the end of the course:

Anne Marie Evans course

It's not finished yet, it needs roots and more details but you get the idea. It looks a bit old-fashioned, like it's from the 18th century, like Redouté or something. Very different to what I'm used to.

After the course I painted in "De Keukenhof" for a day with some other painters of the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists. We sat in the Orchid pavilion, surrounded by hundreds of tourists from all over the globe, stuck or not stuck in the Netherlands by the Icelandic vulcano ashes.
So I painted my first ever orchid flower. Many botanical artists paint orchids. I didn't and I don't think I'll paint those cultivated orchids again. I just don't like them. I like the wild ones that grow here in the Netherlands but they don't look at all like the ones shown in the pavilion in Lisse.


The week after I had to go to the opening of the Siebold exhibition in the Siebold House in Leiden. A wonderful exhibition with wonderful paintings made by the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists. My Hydrangea drawing is exhibited there too. Also a lot of old herbaria and floriligia are shown. Really nice to see the old things from the Siebold period next to the modern works of art.

Siebold exhibition

I made this in Photoshop to show you the difference between the periods. The old painting was made by a Japanese painter and the Hydrangea on the left is a dried specimen that Siebold brought to Europe. It's a different variety than the one that I painted but I don't think he would have minded that :P

Von Siebold's Hydrangeas

Now I'm back home and I decided to start a pencil drawing. It has been too long since I made my last graphite pencil botanical. It's of Akebia quinata, also a Siebold introduction. It has been on my wishlist for some years and it's flowering now in my front yard. I love this climber. The leaves are very interesting, the flowers are maybe even more interesting. But the colour of the flower is wonderful..... but I decided to do a graphite drawing anyway :D Maybe I'll make a coloured thing some other year. Now I just had to do a pencil drawing. So this is a WIP. I'll post it again when it's finished.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

New stuff for my garden

In Eenrum I bought some plants. Thought I'd better write it down somewhere to remember myself what it is I bought. I always forget....
- Angelica Gigas (2x)

- Astrantia major "Blues Night"

- Pulmonaria "Blue Ensign"

- Phlox "Rosa Pastell"

- Agastache "Blue Fortune" (although I wanted "Black Adder")
- Digitalis Mertonensis
- Astrantia major ex. "Hadspen Blood"

- Geranium "Sandrine"

I also bought some seeds to throw around in the garden Atriplex hortensis "Red Plume" is probably the best of all. Okay.... let's play in the soil now :))

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Sweet Violet

Viola odorata

This tiny violet is flowering in my garden now. It's native to Europe and Asia but also introduced in America. It has a wonderful sweet scent and is therefore used in perfumes. It has a beautiful deep violet purple colour (which is always fun to paint). Painted on Fabriano smooth watercolour paper. 9 x 8 cm

Monday, 5 April 2010

That look...

I was drawing the last two days. I saw a photo last week on Flickr. One of my contacts uploaded a photo of a girl. It was taken in the 1930s or so. The only thing we know about this girl is her name, Ruth Akin. Her portrait was so impressive, it was on my mind all week and I just had to draw that face. There's something about that girl. Her pose, her mouth... but most of all her eyes. They tell a story and it could be a very big secret or a sad history... maybe she was just tired. I guess we'll never know. It was a challenge to draw her and I made three drawings of her. The final one was the best and I think I captured a bit of her mysterious look. I made her with black coloured pencil to get a very dramatic contrast, like the photo.
I must say that it was a lot of fun to do and maybe I'll do something like this again some day.

Ruth Akin

The other thing I did (today) is going to my nursery to sell some of my cards and to buy some plants for my garden. I bought Astrantia, Pulmonaria, Angelica Gigas and a few other beauties. After collecting all the plants I wanted, I went for a walk in the spring garden of the nursery. Many wonderful flowers already. Helleborus, Corydalis, Scilla and, the best of all, Fritillaria. Not the normal Frits but a very light, creamy yellow, 50 cm high beauty: Fritillaria raddeana. They were planted all over the garden and it looked so wonderful. The weather was cold and very wet but those flowers lightened up the entire garden.

Fritillaria raddeana

Another sweet surprise was a flower I never saw before. Well, not in this colour anyway. It had a name tag beside it and it said: Dentaria heptaphyllos. I couldn't find a lot of Dentaria heptaphyllos on Google though. But I did find out that it's better known as Cardamine enneaphyllos (Drooping Bittercress for normal people).

Cardamine enneaphyllos ~ Dentaria heptaphyllos

It's on my wishlist, just like that Fritillaria (funny that they both have the same pretty yellow I can tolerate in my garden... well... it's not very yellow at all.... Ivory.... Cream.... Lovely). Aaaahhhh.... spring :))

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Playing with greens

Yesterday I was mixing greens. Just experimenting with my browns, yellows, blues and greens. I got some really nice colours but didn't do much with it. Rather stupid not to make something nice with it, I thought. So I started this little memory of a walk through the forest I took last year.


I used a reference photo too but didn't look too much at it. I think the greens I used are a bit more springtime than they actually were when I took that walk (October).
I never work this "free", it's a bit uncomfortable for me but sometimes it's nice to let yourself go and do something entirely different.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


It's spring. That means a lot of blue flowers in my garden right now. Scilla, Muscari, Hyacinth and also the first Pulmonaria or Lungwort. I have many different variaties in my garden of this lovely perennial but today I painted one of my favourites. Pulmonaria angustifolia. It has extremely blue flowers (although the buds have a rich magenta colour) and the leaves are green (not variegated like most Lungworts). It was a quick study and a small one but I loved to try and catch that electric blue colour.

Pulmonaria angustifolia

To get the right colour I used French Ultramarine, a bit of Violet and a little Paynes grey. To make the perfect colour for the shadow (in the blue) I mixed French Ultramarine with Cadmium Red. A wonderful mossy green I got by mixing Paynes Grey with Raw Umber. A really nice surprise that was :)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

How Dutch can it get

Orange Tulip
In my last post I said that I don't like tulips. I guess I should have written it a bit different. I like tulips in my garden or in a vase on the table (hey, I am Dutch you know) but I just don't like painting them. I don't like painting flowers in general. Too much showing off their beauty or something.

Sometimes, however, you have to paint other things too. Tulips for me is something new and different. Lots of colour and smooth shapes. It's definitely stepping out of my comfort zone.

Today I painted an orange tulip. Very Dutch, being a tulip and being orange. It was fun. This one was bending over a bit so you could almost look inside. This showed the overlapping petals more than the previous tulip I did. To give the tulip more depth I made the shadow parts really dark. I always like a bit of drama ;)

Spring please...


I've so had it with this winter. It was too cold and too dark for too long. I really need spring now. To get myself a bit of spring-feeling I bought loads of tulips this week.

Next month I'll join a botanical painting course again. This time the tutor will be Anne-Marie Evans. The theme that week will be tulips. I'm not a tulip fan. I never painted them before. Well, I had to last year in the previous course. But never voluntarily.

Today I did. One of my tulips is now also a watercolour. I thought it would be good to get some practice with my watercolours and the tulips before the course. There will be more tulips to come. Anyway....This is a very girlie one but it was fun to paint. Hope you like it too :)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Scarlet Elf Cups

Winter seems a strange period to go hunting for mushrooms. But there are a few that only can be found in this period of the year. The Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea) is one of them. It loves snow and freezing temperatures. This fungus grows on decaying branches in damp spots on forests floor. It's a rare fungus in the Netherlands... or so they say. Winter, snow, freezing cold and crawling under bushes isn't a very pleasant combination for most people, so it's not surprising it's not such a common sight.

Scarlet Elf Cups

I painted this little group of Scarlet Elf Cups like they were found. On the branches, with moss and dead leaves. I first painted the Fungi because I knew they loved the cold and damp.... not my dry and warm studio. The interior of the cups is bright red and very smooth. The outside is lighter and orange. later they turned even lighter, almost white. Maybe that had something to do with the dry, warm air. They are quite small, about 2 cm.
The hardest part was to paint the moss around the mushrooms. So delicate and fluffy. But I decided not to get into details too much since the focus should be on the fungi. I think I managed to do it. Creating this very tiny little world from the forest floor.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Don't bug me now!

I don't feel like painting crocusses and snowdrops now. I wanted to do something colourful yet not a big project.... A friend of mine sugested to make some insects. I never did that before. Not seriously anyway. So I thought I'd try painting some bugs with watercolours. It didn't work out at all. So, instead of throwing it in the bin I saved it with my coloured pencils. Here's my first little bug:

Chrysolina fastuosa

This is Chrysolina fastuosa. In normal English: the Dead Nettle Leaf Beetle. It's a very common beetle in the Netherlands and oh so pretty. It was hard to draw the metalic shine and the little dimples on the shield. I must add that this image is huge compared to the original drawing. The drawing is made life size (=very small = 1,5 cm = about 0,6") So in this scan it might seem that it has got hairs, in the small drawing it just has little dimples :))

I liked this so much I decided to do another bug today. A bigger one and maybe one of my favourites. Not because it's so beautiful (besides it's hairdo it really isn't that pretty) but because I always look forward to seeing the first in my garden. Always in May.

Cockchafer ~ May Beetle ~ Meikever

It's the May Beetle or Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha). I made mine 3 cm (a bit over 1 inch) tall (they can be a bit bigger though). Not very happy with the texture on the brown shields. It looks too smooth... and it really is not. Never mind.... I had fun and there is a lot more white paper to be filled with creepy crawlers...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

And then there were two...

Braeburn Apples

One Braeburn apple seemed a bit lonely.... so now there are two. Cute, huh?

I think that pears will be next :)

Saturday, 16 January 2010


Ok, I know, I'm a bad blogger, sorry for that. But to make it up here's an update. I was so busy these last few weeks to get my Hydrangea finished in time. And guess what... it's FINISHED!!!!! Yay for me :) I sent it to the National Herbarium this week and it went straight to the photographer from there. It will be photographed for the flyer and catalogue or something. Anyway, I managed to scan the big drawing (in 4 parts) and after merging the scans together, here's the result of all the hard labour:

Hydrangea serrata 'Preziosa'

I was so relieved when the drawing was gone I just had to do something fun and easy. So I bought a very nice red apple. Yesterday I sat down and in one afternoon (ok, and part of the evening) I finished the "Braeburn Apple" with coloured pencils. It was so good to do something with a simple shape and such rich, deep colours.

Braeburn Apple

Don't know what I'll do now. Maybe I'll add one or two apples to that first one. It seems a bit lonely on the paper. And doing it was great fun, really....
On the other hand I'd love to do something with my watercolours again too. But whatever it will be, it's going to be small and fun :)