It's almost New Year's Eve, time to reflect on the year left behind and looking forward to the year ahead.
Today I went out with my son to buy some firework. We also have safety-glasses this year. Safety and firework are two conflicting issues, so we're very careful. Let's hope others will do also.


Santa Claus

As you can see he is dressing up for "the most wonderful time of the year". Although he doesn't look very motivated. I guess because it's hard work: flying with reindeers...


Henning Mankell

The Swedish writer Henning Mankell is one of my favourites, especially the novels he wrote about Kurt Wallander. In fact I'm re-reading one of these novels now. Some books are just getting better the second or third time you read them.
I also like to watch the episodes made by the Swedisch television around this character. They also seem to improve everytime you watch them.
Pen and ink, 10x15 cm.


Dresdner Stol

"A Stollen is a loaf-shaped cake containing dried fruit, and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar. The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Stollen is a traditional German cake, usually eaten during the Christmas season, when called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. A similar cake, found in Dutch cuisine, is called a Kerststol in Dutch, while in Italian cuisine the panettone also shows a likeness."
Source: Wikipedia.

It also happens to be one of my favourite type of breads/cakes. Especially when a slice is topped with real butter. Just delicious!


Sint Nicolaas

Sint Nicolaas is a mythical figure, known for his generosity and kindness to children. That makes nowadays in combination with his Catholic roots a somewhat inconvenient combination. But legends live forever and are standing above any suspicion. You can read his whole story here.


Ben l'Oncle Soul

Sometimes you come across the work of a very talented person on a unexpected place or at an unexpected time. In this case I heard a very nice tune sung by a candidate on a television talent seeking show called 'The Voice of Holland'.
It took me some time to figure out who was the original artist who sung this touchy song. I just had to buy this guy's cd! It turned out to be a young French artist, called Ben l'Oncle Soul. According to his biography "Ben l'Oncle Soul is a French soul singer with a retro style who made his eponymous Top Five hit album debut in 2010. Born Benjamin Duterde in 1984 in Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France, he took his name and look from Uncle Ben, the fictitious elderly African-American man dressed in a bow tie who serves as the brand image of Uncle Ben's Rice. The moniker Ben l'Oncle Soul was chosen rather than Uncle Ben to avoid any charges of trademark infringement."
So the next time you'll eat your rice, put on his music and enjoy!


Auguste Gusteau

One of the fine characters of the great movie "Ratatouille" is the late master chef Auguste Gusteau. His motto and book "Anyone Can Cook" made him famous, but unfortenately he could not enjoy this succes. He died mysteriously.
Never the less his role in the movie is a great one and for me a prequel should be made with the rise and fall of this character about how he became such a great chef. Including lots of nice scenes of Paris, which plays such a great role allready in the Ratatouille movie.


Gustave Doré

I remember seeing the work of Gustave Doré for the first time in my life. It made quite an impact to me. Especially the way the gray parts of the black and white drawings were printed. Later I found out that Doré made the drawings and a team of highly skilled engravers made then the drawings suitable for printing. His work pushed the printing of illustrations in the nineteenth century to a higher level.
Gustave Doré was a self-taught artist, lived from 1832 till 1883 and left an enormous oeuvre of fantastic drawings for the world to enjoy.


Don Quichotte

The Spanish writer Cervantes became famous by writing about an anti-hero figure, Don Quichotte de la Mancha. A self proclaimed knight, fighting against windmills (who doesn't) to conquer the heart of an imaginary girlfriend (who hasn't). The story was written about 400 years ago, but the characters show the same behaviour as we do nowadays.
Just think about how we try to solve the economic crisis...

But that's not the only point I want to make. What wonders me most is that we still can read and enjoy a story written 400 years ago, but when I tried a couple of weeks ago to play a PC game I bought 14 years ago, my computer can't handle it. The game is too old and the computer, bought in 2004, too modern for that game.
When I buy a PC game today, my computer also can't handle it. Then my 7 year-old computer is suddenly too old. Very frustrating. It's about time that someone stands up against the computerindustry. With its new updates (do you ever know what they put in your computer?), new operating systems and processors that can't cope with not yet antique games. Or will that be fighting against windmills?

Pen and watercolor, based on a drawing by Gustave Doré.


Quentin Blake

One of the many pleasures reading Roald Dahl was looking at the illustrations made by Quentin Blake. His work is nowadays still as vivid, funny and lively as it was decades ago. Whenever you get the chance in a bookshop to stumble upon a book he illustrated, don't hesitate to buy it or get at least a glimps of his work. Otherwise take a look at his website .


Vincent van Gogh

After a hard life, struggling with his talent and demons, Vincent van Gogh took his faith in his own hands. Before that he produces lots of paintings which were way ahead of their time, only to find out nobody wouldn't buy them. During his life he sold only one painting. After his death his painting of sunflowers was worth millions. How strange life can be.
He painted most of his, now, world-famous work in Southern France, so it's only logical that there's a museum named after him in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Pen and watercolor, 10x15 cm, after a self-portrait.


Mick Jagger

Old rockers were supposed to fade away, but Mick Jagger proves the experts wrong. 68 years and still going strong! Just released an instant classic album, in mine opinion, called Superheavy. Together with Joss Stone, Dave Stewart, Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman.

Pen and watercolor, 10 x 15 cm.


Fast food: French Fries

Although they're called "French Fries", I prefer the Flamish ones. But that's a bit difficult to explain in English, I'm afraid. Well, as long it's not a Dutch treat.



As I was looking for people I would like to draw a portrait of, I thought to myself: "why not make a drawing of people I admire?". One of them is, for me, the great painter Rembrandt van Rijn. I made a drawing of him based on a self-portrait he made in 1669 at the age of 63. The original painting can be seen in the Tate Gallery in London or, to save you the trip, on this website .

I made my drawing with pen and watercolor, adding dry brush in the final stage.


Tools: Pencils

Although I make my drawings in pen with watercolor, I allways make sketches upfront. I mainly use Derwent and occasionally I make sketches with ballpoint (when I'm in a hurry and afraid to lose the idea during the process of finding my pencils).
I'm used to draw in this style for quite a while now, with mostly the same subjects. Perhaps it's time to make a change in subjects, for instance: urban scenery, landscapes, portraits, animals, etc, etc.
But for now I drew my sketching tools: pencils, cutting knife and sandpaper and eraser. In pen with watercolor. Of course.


Tools: Speculaas Plank

An old Dutch habit during the last months of the year is eating brown spiced biscuits, or speculaas. My father used to bake them a lot during the years he was a baker. Of course, we as his kids didn't let the moments pass we were able to taste the first ones which came out of the oven. Especially the ones which were too dark to be sold in the shop. They tasted the best!
I drew the plank to make a man and woman biscuit as a symbol of the marriage, representing the hope it becomes a fertile and happy commitment.
Pen and watercolor (with the smell of brown spiced biscuits).


Tools: Airbrush

During my 'career' as an assistant for a graphic designer I learned how to use the airbrush. I mainly had to use it to tighten up black and white product pictures before rasterize them with a large reproduction camera.
How things have changed since then! We now use Photoshop to make pictures look better, all digital. Reproduction camera's are complete history. Nowadays you scan your drawings with your own affordable all-in-one printer, make them look sharper and more colourful using Photoshop and publish them on your own weblog for all the world to see.


Tools: Money

Some people use money as a tool. They try to get some things done or purchased for money. Other people let money work for them. For other people money turns into an obsession.
In the older days bankers were true craftsmen with money. They were solid institutions and took good care of their customers money. Nowadays they speculate with your money and almost ruin our economy, but they all say it isn't their fault. As Oliver Hardy would say to Stan Laurel: "Now that's another fine mess you've put us into!"

Pen and watercolor.


Tools: pen and ink

People in different jobs use all different kind of tools to do their job. Drawing, for instance, can be done with a pencil, but my favourites tools are pen and ink. Mostly added with a splash of watercolor, using different colors or only black. As you can see in the drawing above.
I am a great admirer of craftsmen in general and I strongly believe that they must be more appreciated in what they do and stand for.



Another fun thing to do when you're not at work or school: riding the mountainbike. Our kids cycled for the first time on a mountainbike during our holiday in the Alps. They had a lot of fun playing with the gears and developed quite an impressive speed! They can't wait to go back, but I'm afraid they have to be a little patience.
Pen and watercolor in black and white.



We had planned a little vacation in the Alps. Mainly for paragliding reasons. However the weather turned out to be not suitable for free flights the whole week, so plans had to be changed. Luckily we found out that the kids loved doing the Klettersteig, or Via Ferrata, so the vacation turned into a big plus.
Pen and ink in black and white.


Illustration Friday - Remedy

A well-functioning lock is allways a good remedy against burglary. Sadly enough it is only prevention, not a cure.

This drawing is made with pen and watercolor in black and white, together with some fantasy about the looks of the lock. I haven't seen such a lock before, but when I was sketching it suddenly appeared.



My wife attended me on the Sushi-shop in our little village. It was a delight, I must say. The last time I ate Sushi must have been about ten years ago, in a Japanese restaurant.
Drawing food is quite a difficult challenge. You have to be careful that it still looks good, fresh, crispy and tasteful. Pen and watercolor.


Mask - the movie

This is the mask used in the movie with Jim Carrey. Long I've been thinking it was just a mask made by a prop artist, but thanks to internet I found out that it was based on a Norse mythology god, called Loki. Quite an interesting character, I must say. You can find more information about him here .
I made this drawing partly by using the dry brush method. Although the original mask is green, I find the drawing more appealing in black and white.


Six words short story

The mysterious treasury couldn't be opened.

That could be an idea for a story, I thought.


Ancient mask

The initial sketch for this drawing started in fact as a doodle, just to warm me up for making another drawing which I will post later. The original mask can be seen in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, Great Britain. A rough wooden mask worn during the carnival and then hung over the stable door or in front of the hay as protection.
I don't know where to protect against, but what I do know is when I draw masks I allways see someones face in it. As in this drawing I see several faces of people I know.
Pen and watercolor, black and white.


The Story Of Your Life

The story of someone's life can be read just by looking at the artifacts stacked away on the attic.


Taking a little nap on the countryside

This week's challenge on Illustration Friday is called "bicycle". Some say coincidence doesn't exist. I had made sketches for a drawing about a guy taking his afternoon nap. Two weeks ago you could have seen part of those sketches on my entry for IF's challenge "bottled". Working out that drawing I thought of putting a sign on the car the guy is resting against, saying he works as a bicycle repairman. Doing so, my son told me he had trouble with the gearshift on his bicycle which need to be repaired...
Anyway, this is my 200th message on this blog. So time for some celebration and after that a midday nap would be nice.

Pen and watercolor on Fabriano 300.


Friendship Bread

It's better not to have too many friends, otherwise there will be left less.


Bottle and Glass

Last week I was sketching for an illustration about the Southern European habit of taking a midday-nap, mostly called: siësta. Part of this sketch happens to suit this week's Illustration Friday challenge, called "Bottled".
Unfortunately I'm a sort of taking a break finishing this illustration yet, but who cares? Finishing it "mañana" will be soon enough.



According to Wikipedia the word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to "the flowering top of a cabbage". It has nothing to do with Albert R. Broccoli, an American film producer, who made more than 40 motion pictures throughout his career and is mostly known as the producer of the James Bond films. Although he was born on April 5th 1909 (and died on 27 June 1996), but who says there's no coincidence in life?
Pen and ink and watercolor (shaken, not stirred)


2CV in black and white

I noticed that I didn't have drawn a Citroën 2CV for quite a while. So I made this one: an old garage with a, perhaps, forgotten car in it. It was fun to draw and I made the drawing according what I had in mind. That's the fun part of drawing, especially when drawing cars. After all: they're men's favourite toy. Aren't they?


Recipe for a pizza

Making a pizza isn't very difficult. First you start off with a nice sketch, based on a real life model or on a good picture.
Then you start with the inking. Already during the inking I use different styles and linings to add a bit of depth and dynamics into the drawing. In this stage it's important not to draw to much tone, because that can ruin your colouring later on and make your drawing look less brisk.

Then I remove all the pencil with a plastic eraser. I don't like to use the kneaded erasers. They leave behind a sort of oily substance on the surface, which doesn't let the watercolour flow the way I like it.

Then it's time to add the watercolours. I mainly use very small palets of colour. Just to be safe, but on the other hand I use brushes which are more than twenty years old to give me little surprises when adding the colours to the paper.

So there you have your pizza. Made in pen and watercolour on simple 150 grs white drawing paper. I hope you liked this little insight look about how I work and if you're getting inspired by this lecture please let me know the result.


Currant bun

Current theme is the currant bun. A very tasty one, I must say. Colour and shape look good. Not all currant buns I know have this shape. Most buns look very pale and have not enough ingredients. That are currant buns made without love and only for the profit. That doesn't last long. I remember I've had a couple of years ago an intense discussion with the manager of the bakery shop here in our village. The shape, taste and looks of their currant buns changed overnight and I said to him that wasn't the right thing to do. They must not try to make the same products a supermarket sell. A bakery has to offer a (better) alternative for the consumer. He totally agreed with me, but said it was a companies decision. So he had nothing to say about it. I found that a weak excuse. Since then I stopped buying currant buns there. I'm still waiting they change their company policy about the buns. Besides that, nobody has to tell me how buns should look like!



Eating pancakes comes at our home always with a warning: careful, due to unresistable deliciousness you tend to eat to much of them. May cause serious stomachproblems!
Luckily our kids are used to this, but the guests they invite to our home sometimes aren't.
Pen and ink and watercolor (the drawing, that is, not the pancakes).



The plain donut, the one on the left, tasted best...


Drawing exercise made fun

Drawing ellipses is a very good drawing exercise, but can also become very boring. What I try to do to lighten up the exercise is making a subject out of the ellipses. For instance: donuts. They come in a very basic form, are therefore easy subjects, they can be bought mostly everywhere and, last but not least, after finishing your exercise you can eat your drawing model! Is there any other hobby with such an advantage?