Amsterdam Skyline

April 10th, 2017

I had a lovely day on Saturday. On a previous visit with friends and family I’d visited Nemo (the brilliant Children’s Science museum) and The Sky Lounge. On this occasion I returned alone with my sketch books in tow. The Sky Lounge is close to Amsterdam central station and has a great view across Amsterdam towards St Nicholas church. I ordered a coffee ( Not cheap at 7 euros 50 a pop although you did get a couple of sweet bites including a tiny macaroon for that!) It wasn’t busy so I could easily select a spot and sketched looking out towards the city. I had bought my larger A3 book on this occasion and so glad I did as I ran out of pages with my A4. It made me stretch myself more as I generally feel more comfortable with the smaller format. When there is so much to see I tried to be selective, using more gestural marks and washes to indicate buildings. I liked all the high rise buildings in contrast to the old ones. After the visit to the Sky Lounge I strolled over to Nemo. It had certainly got a lot warmer since I arrived. I’ve a museum card and it’s great. I wish we had something similar in the UK . Pay 60 euros and you get into most museums and galleries in the Netherlands. Sometimes this includes unexpected places such as botanical gardens. I sat on the third floor by a window, plugged myself into my iPod and looked out across the bridges towards the central library and the eye catching Chinese restaurant. I struggled a bit with the bridge tbh and started and stopped a few drawings before settling on a composition. A fun day and I’ll definitely be returning.

 

Vienna

November 30th, 2016

Spent a wonderful weekend in Vienna in October. Vienna is a city that I visited a number of times as a child as my aunt and uncle lived there. It was so nice returning after many years and seeing how it has changed. I stayed in the 7th district, a short walk to the museum quarter. It’s a really laid back, unassuming area with independent shops, bars and a market around the corner (whilst I was visiting) The weather was amazing so tables and chairs were outside bars and restaurants. Enjoyed sitting and drinking with a beer and chatting with the locals. Always good for getting tips for the best bars and restaurants to visit.

During the first day I walked to the Naschmarkt, a popular market with numerous stalls and restaurants. Most visitors come for the food and drink. I jostled my way through the crowds and stopped for a break and sketched some of the passers by and visitors having lunch.

My trip fortuitously coincided with Museum Night – buying one ticket between the hours of 6pm and 1am meant you could visit most of the museums and galleries in the capital. A wonderful atmosphere with many people out and enjoying the evening. I loved the Leopold museum with a large collection of Austrian twentieth century art. Many fantastic Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimts artworks. I don’t think I’ve walked so much or seen so much art in one evening before. Absolutely exhausting but wonderful at the same time!

The second day was spent seeing the historical sights. The Belvedere: Two beautiful palace buildings and more Klimt paintings. Surprisingly not so many tourists. I was two steps ahead of a group of Japanese tourists. There are so many stunning monumental buildings including the parliament, the Vienna State Opera and City Hall. I stopped here briefly to do a drawing. (You can see a short film on Instagram). The park looked so pretty and the 19th century Flemish Gothic building stunning. Then came a downpour so had to move swiftly on.

The modernist and Art Nouveau architecture is beautiful. The Vienna Secession building built by Joseph Maria Olbrich a personal favourite. Quite small inside with the main highlight; Klimt’s Beethoven frieze.

It was raining and I was getting peckish. Passing the Opera house, I stumbled upon the Imperial Butterfly House in the centre of the city. The Art Nouveau palm house is very eye catching. There’s a cafe and brasserie so stopped of for a few nibbles, a beer and sketch.

A visit to Vienna wouldn’t be the same without eating Viennese Schnitzel.  Before leaving, following a tip, I went to very good restaurant near where I was staying. ‘Zur Stadt Krems ‘ has a traditional menu, interior, friendly staff and half the price of the restaurants in the centre of the city.  Popular with the locals and I can see why – very tasty indeed!

My trip to Vienna was short and sweet. Packed with culture, cuisine and charm. I had a lovely time and hope to visit again in the not too distant future.

Leiden buildings

August 22nd, 2016

I am really interested in buildings and architecture. Holland has so many impressive buildings. I’m particularly drawn to the buildings from the 1920s and 30s. Most notably the Amsterdam School architecture style.

Rotterdam: Hotel New York

June 27th, 2016

It was lovely returning to The New York Hotel for a coffee and tompoes on Saturday. Situated on the River Maas and built in 1917, it was the former head office of the Holland America Line and the last spot for many Dutch immigrants who set sail for North America. It’s now surrounded by skyscapers and has been converted into a cafe restaurant and hotel and still retains much of it’s original charm. I walked over the Rijnhavenbrug to the Kop Van Zuid. The harbour district has been regenerated since I was last in Rotterdam. It’s a great spot to hang out and draw the New York hotel. I included some of the water taxis that travel to and from the centre of town (and to Veerhaven). I later sat in a cafe on a mezzanine and watched the visitors having lunch and drinks outside with The New York hotel in the background.

Groningen

December 7th, 2011

Travelled to Groningen in the northern part of the Netherlands with laptop and sketch book in hand. It’s a large university city with some impressive old buildings. Weather was terrible! Wind, rain and hale but enjoyed seeing the city on foot. Stopped off for coffee. Took in the view towards the Martini tower.

Once in the Grote markt I stood and sheltered by the tourist info centre and did a few sketches. Really like the architecture and the theatre/bar signs. Sketched cyclists and cars passing from the St Jansstraat.

Then made my way past the Aa church and university and walked quickly to station. Stunning building designed by Isaac Gosschalk and completed in 1896.  Then walked back to the Groninger Museum nearby.

Enjoyed the Jan Altink exhibition showing the dutch artists paintings and prints from the 1920’s and 30’s. Often painting Groningen landscapes and workers on the land. His influence from the german expressionists (notably Kirchner) is clear. Always like to see prints and liked his etchings and woodcuts. (above)

There’s also an exhibition of traditional and contempory portraits and chinese porcelain which is worth seeing.

I often spend more time in the shop and cafe than I do in exhibitions. The museum is very striking inside and out. Designed by Allessandro Mendini and Phillippe Starck opened in 1994. Futuristic and colourful in design it’s a nice place to relax. I liked the interior design of the cafe with ‘twig’ chairs, red pendant lights and grey walls. I ordered the cake with the edible museum photo on top!

I looked out of the window and sketched the cyclists and pedestrians walking on the bridge.

Eastbourne

October 15th, 2010

I took a trip to Eastbourne at the weekend. I wanted to see the Robert Mapplethorpe at the Towner gallery and thought I would have a walk along the beach and do a few sketches. It was a beautiful day and despite bringing a hat, I left it in my car thinking there would be no need. I was wrong. Very gusty – hair flying everywhere!  I’m always interested in structures and buildings and enjoyed drawing the pier with the crashing waves and seagulls flying overhead. Whilst drawing, I kept brushing my hair away from my face with my hand  and  it wasn’t until I went to the ladies bathroom in the Towner that I  realised my face was covered in black pastel! After making myself more presentable I moved onto the exhibition . . .

The Artists rooms include Mapplethorpes work from the 1970s and 1980s including beautiful black and white portrait and flower photos. There are a number of photos documenting his close relationship with Patti Smith as well as his lesser known sculptures that, to be be honest, didn’t draw me in in the same way. In one of the rooms there’s ‘work of an adult nature’ although tame in comparison to a Mapplethorpe exhibition I saw in Vienna over 10 years ago. I went with my parents and my mother has never forgotten it!

Although small it’s worth a visit. The exhibition is free and held in conjunction with Tate modern.

Park Sanssouci, Potsdam, Germany

August 16th, 2010


Park Sanssouci, Potsdam is a short train journey from Berlin and a wonderful place to visit. There are amazing gardens, palaces, a schloss and even a windmill!

Brussels

August 4th, 2010

I had a day trip to Brussels. Surprisingly it’s only a couple of hours or so by car from Amsterdam. Here are a few sketches of the market place and palace. Enjoyed walking amongst the tourists, looking at the beautiful architecture and stopping for a glass of belgium beer.