Wednesday, 3 October 2012


It has been a while again since my last post. Partially because I haven't painted much since my last blog. At least, not very botanical anyway. BUT now I have finished something that's worth sharing.
Some weeks ago I went to a nursery ("De Vrolijke Noot") of fruit trees and bushes. The owner gave me a cutting from one of his apple trees. The apple is named "Sterappel". That means "Star Apple" if you translate it. Stars, because the apple has very clear bright lenticels on the very dark red skin.
I posted the end result on Flickr and Facebook already and was very happy when Rosie Sanders complimented me on the painting. Rosie made a few years ago the famous Apple Book. She knows a lot about the different varieties and asked me what kind this is. I didn't know the English name of it. I only know the German, French and Dutch name. Later Rosie sent me a bit of more information about the apple: "I've looked it up in the National Apple Register and it seems that it is Reinette Rouge Étoilée, first described in 1830, provenance Belgium or the Netherlands. Has lots of synonyms including Sterappel and Sternrenette. Interesting!". 
What I do know is that this used to be a very popular apple in the Netherlands but has become very rare now. The problem with these apples is that it falls too early from the tree. Often it hasn't got the deep red colour yet when it hits the ground. To give the apples the wonderful, dark colour the apples were placed on straw between the trees to get more sunlight and the cold from the nights. To save the apples from dehydration the apples had to be wetted. Also to get an even red colour the apples had to be turned after a while. Very intensive work if you have a large orchard.

Now, about the painting... I used for this Arches HP (I was out of Fabriano) and painted it first in watercolour. Using masking fluid to save the "stars". After that I put on layers of coloured pencil. And although I did get a very nice and rich dark red colour with the watercolour, the coloured pencils made it even more alive. I really loved this way of working and I think I'll use this technique more. The only thing I don't like is that the watercolours roughen the paper surface. I will have to find a cure for that. More experimenting is needed. 

The painting (only watercolour) with the masking fluid to protect the "stars".

Oh, and remember that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.... right? Not really.... I went to the doctor last week and it turned out that I have a very sportive right arm: a golfer's and tennis elbow (bilateral epicondylitis). With painkillers it's possible to work for about an hour a day. So the next project will take some time to get finished. But I promise, it will be a bit different ;)

Friday, 6 July 2012


I sort of promised myself at the end of last year that I would make more drawings in graphite. I haven't done much painting and drawing yet this year. It's always something that's blocking me. Sometimes it's because of health issues, depression or *just* a painter's block. But also May and June were filled with teaching and doing a course. I forced myself this week to draw something and, maybe more important, to finish it.

In my garden I saw this week my Triteleias blooming between the Lady's Mantle. I always forget I have them and every year it's a nice surprise to see them flowering so happy and blue in the chartreuse foam of the Alchemilla mollis. So I picked one of them and started to draw. I did a pencil drawing of it on Canson Bristol. I don't like so much the white of the paper but it works so very nice and smooth with graphite. Here it is:

 I wanted to paint it in colour too but this weekend I'm too busy with my son's birthday. So, no painting... I did start a second flower drawing from a different angle and I hope to add it to this first one for a nice composition. But that too needs time... we'll see ;)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

White Rose

Last Friday I showed my students how to make a white flower with coloured pencils. Normally I would prefer to use watercolour as a base for white flowers. It's just more delicate. But it can be done in coloured pencil. The most difficult part is not to use outlines to show the flower but only shadows and colour. This is what I made for them when I demonstrated how to do that. It's a tiny (1 inch) tiny rose. White with a hint of pink.

The image here is a bit enlarged and I wasn't able to get the sharpness, smoothness and the colours right but it's close.
As you can see there are no outlines at all. The darkest shadows are at the overlaps of the petals and are quite strong. Also there's a good amount of shading under the stamens. That shading makes them pop up from the flower.
The biggest reason I don't like to make white flowers with coloured pencil is that there aren't so many subtle, very light coloured pencils. Caran d'Ache Luminance pencils however have a nice range of very light colours, almost whites... So I was happy this time I could use their Buff Titanium for the creamy centre. If you compare it to the cream pencils of Faber-Castell and Prismacolor it is whiter, less yellow. And sometimes it's just that tiny bit that will make the difference.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


These months are all about courses... last week I went to a master class about composition with Anne Marie Evans. I knew she was the best teacher already. This time she gave us such a great class that really opened our eyes and I think it made us all move up a level. We worked and struggled all week with Peonies and at the end of the week I had made a composition with two flowers and a leaf that I would never have done or tried before this class. I don't know if I ever will do something like this composition again (it's a bit too decorative for my taste) but that is not the point. The point is that she made us think much harder and force ourselves to do something that we never would have done. Not going for the easy or obvious composition.

Here's me and Anne Marie (thanks to Janneke Brinkman for taking this photo). See how wild my hair is from all the fighting with the composition? :P
She's here giving me some tips on one of my older paintings that I haven't finished yet. I was very happy to get some pointers that made sense and also that she loved my dark shadows (teehee) and the thin filaments I managed to get into the painting. But that is all more fun for me that it is for you. All you want to know now is how that Peony composition turned out... right? Ok, here it is:

Like I said, very decorative and it would be a great wrap around a bar of heavy scented pink soap. I haven't done much more than this since then because there's my own class that I'm teaching these weeks. I hope to get the Peonies painted after that.

This week my students learned how to draw leaves and flowers, how to measure things, how to work with graphite pencil and more basics. Next week they will start with coloured pencil. I'm very excited about that since it's the first time I'm doing a course about that. I'll try not to forget to take some pics next week so I can show you the place (we're in the greenhouse of De Kruidhof. That's a botanical garden in Buitenpost in Friesland, in the North of the Netherlands).

Finally another photo of moi that Ria van Elk took at the Anne Marie Evans Composition Course in Leiden (I really love this photo):

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Bulbs Instead

Look what my parents gave me last weekend. Isn't it just gorgeous? But this post is not about Peonies...

It should have been about the progress I've made with my Clematis. Unfortunately my shoulder, neck and elbow are hurting too much to work with my coloured pencils right now. Especially working on the easel makes it even worse. That's a bit ironic because I started that big drawing on my easel to sit straight up and therefore it would be better for my neck.But that Clematis will be there later. I took many sketches and studies of it so (with all the reference photos I took) I will be able to continue that drawing in a month.

So to prevent myself from falling into a large gap of boredom I went to Eenrum last weekend to visit "De Kleine Plantage" again. Summer/Autumn bulbs from Hein Meeuwissen and Rita van der Zalm were there. So I had a drooling time at their stand. I had a few Dahlias planned for my garden but what I really wanted to buy were some wonderful looking bulbs. Flowers were less important. I also bought another Arisaema griffithii rhizome. Hopefully I will get some results from it this year.

The bulbs I bought are really nice and I started to draw the most beautiful one almost immediately. The problem was that I couldn't finish it the day after because we had a birthday party here. So the bulb was already two days in the house when I actually could start painting it. Unlike all the other bulbs I bought, this one started to grow as soon it felt the warm temperatures inside my house. Next time I'll try not to forget to put my bulbs in the fridge until I can actually draw it. But let me show you... always better than words, no?

This is the bulb I'm talking about. Isn't it a beauty? Sprekelia formosissima this is. I was so in love with the silver and dark brown skin in combination with the lovely pink sprouts. I took this photo on the same day that I bought it.
Now here is the bulb I painted only two days later:

You see how fast it's growing? And even when I sat painting it, the flower-buds kept moving and growing... So I have to paint fast. Fortunately I'm almost finished with the buds now and I can soon start to paint the rest of the bulb but I'd better hurry with that too before the flowers will open. Yikes!!!

The rest of the bulbs I bought? Here they are:

Hippeastrum Sonatini 'Helios'. A hardy Amaryllis with very light green-yellow small flowers. I didn't like the bulb so much but the flowers looked amazing. Couldn't resist :P

This is Lilium 'Pink Perfection'. I'm not crazy about Lilies but this one I bought because the colours in the bulb are so pretty.

And finally some of the most beautiful bulbs I know: Narcissus 'Paperwhite'. Again, I'm not a fan of Narcissus flowers but the bulbs I adore. Look at the rich dark brown and shiny skin! Mouthwatering beauties....

So I'll be busy painting to rest my shoulder and elbow. I don't mind... I love bulbs!!!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Brunette in Progress

According to an article in the Daily Mirror do gentlemen no longer prefer blondes.
Modern men want brains and sophistication which are most often associated with brunettes, researchers at City University found.

The top 10 reasons why gentlemen prefer brunettes:

Body art is rated as more attractive on brunettes
Brunettes are perceived as more worldly and mature.
Brunettes are believed to be more self-sufficient.
Brunettes are perceived as more serious.
Brunettes are perceived as being less temperamental
Brunettes are thought to be more capable
Brunettes are thought to earn more money
Brunettes are perceived as more intelligent
Men feel more successful with a brunette by their side
Brunettes are viewed as marriage material

source: Ask Men

Not that I'm drawing this Clematis for men in particular :P
I just started this drawing of Clematis 'Brunette' only because I am in love with the dark flowers. I've had this Clematis for years in my garden but it died last winter. I bought a new one a few weeks ago. So, before planting it, I thought to draw this beauty. Looks very intelligent and perhaps it will earn me more money than a blonde ;)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A Bulb Drawing and Some News

A lot has happened lately. Really... a lot. I'm happy to say it's all quite positive. I finished a bulb drawing today, an interview about me and my art was published in Noorderland magazine, I finally built my new website (and it works!!!!) and I'll be teaching in a new course about drawing botanical art with coloured pencils. It's a lot.

First of all, let me show you the drawing. It's done in coloured pencil and it's a Crocosmia 'Lucifer' bulb which I pulled out of my garden this week. The contrast of the died leaves and the new, toxic green sprout is so nice. Well, I like it anyway :P

It wasn't an easy thing to draw in coloured pencil. I think it would have been more easy if I had used only graphite pencils. The hardest part of it was the fibre, straw-like part above the bulb and between the two dead leaves. White thin sprigs. Many of them too... Ah well, I managed it somehow and I'm rather pleased with the result too. That doesn't happen so often.

So... then there's the article, 6 full pages in a very nice magazine, Noorderland. A large interview, a lot of my drawings (nicely printed) and nice photos of stuff in my studio and also of me. So if you live in the Netherlands or there about, have a look.

Now, because I was going to feature in this big article I really had to update my website. And because I'm such a stubborn person that always knows best and never likes prefab website designs, I wanted to build it myself. I'm happy now with the style and all I need now is to build a little e-store to sell cards, prints and other stuff. So if you haven't done it already, please have a look at it. Some feedback is always nice ;)
Finally the 6-day-drawing-course. That will be (I really hope I get enough students for this) next June in the botanical garden "De Kruidhof" in Buitenpost. On my website is a folder with more info. It will be six days in three weeks time. I'm looking forward to it... sitting in the gardens there, peacefully struggling with all the plant material, trying hard to get it all down on paper.... Aaaaah..... splendid!

Monday, 13 February 2012


As you may know, I don't have a very big love for painting flowers. I prefer the twigs, pods, buds and seeds... sometimes even some leaves.... Some of my friends on Facebook are doing the SBA's Distance Learning Diploma Course in botanical art. One of the assignments is to paint vegetables. They also do fruits and flowers of course but this veggies assignment is really interesting, I think. Inspired and intrigued by this challenge I am now spotting wonderful vegetables everywhere. I'm getting so excited about it all that I'm now almost ready to turn part in my garden into a *beautiful vegetables* spot. Not even so much for eating it (although that is of course a nice bonus) but more for painting and drawing the stuff. Here are some things that are really interesting. And there's so much more..... (oh, and because I would also plant some tomatoes and other *fruit* in my little plot, I'll add those too here)


Top to bottom: 'Cabbage' by Yannha, 'Kale' by Yannha, Cabbage 'Alaska' at Marshalls, Aubergine 'Prosperosa' at Thompson & Morgan 'Toma-tres' by Cebolledo, Pak Choi by Munduate, 'Fennel' by Paul Petherick, 'Candy Stripe Beet' or 'Chioggia' at Plant World Seeds, Lettuce 'Yugoslavian Red' at Thompson & Morgan, Cosmic Purple Carrots at Plant World Seeds, 'Onions' by sfPhotocraft, 'Local Colour - Les Nourritures Terrestres' by Pusapoze, Shallot 'Picasso' at Thompson & Morgan, Swede 'Tweed' at Thompson & Morgan

I know... it's much more than just greens.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


I'm quite passionate about botanical art. Not only to look at but most of all to draw and paint it. Now I may have written about it before but I suffer from depressions. Botanical art is something that really helps me to stay positive. In the winter months however, it is not so easy to stay so positive anymore. Actually it gets very hard. The passion and the joy to paint is gone and I get a sort of painter's block. On the other hand, I feel even more misserable because I don't paint and draw. And if I do paint, it often turns out to be made for the dustbin. Quite vexing.
So, that is one of the reasons why I haven't painted something for months. Today I finished something though. A watercolour of Passion Fruits. A fun little painting which turned out fine. I first painted the smooth one, then the wrinkled one and finally the opened one with the snotty seeds. That was the hardest part since the colour of the seeds is so strange and it is shiny and semi-transparent, some seeds have a bit of a shape, others are more merged like pulp. It actually resembles a bit a blob of frog spawn.
I painted the fruits first and at the end I enhanced it a bit by using some coloured pencils. Just to make a few shapes pop, add a bit more shade and shape and most of all to accentuate the different textures.

Now let's hope this is the start of a better period and with a lot of pleasure in painting more stuff. Spring is coming... that's always a good time to get inspiration.