Friday, December 18, 2009

Days of September (part 5)

Here are the last pictures of the pages of my 'September Journal' that I made following an online class at Everyday we were sent a prompt to think about and to record it with photographs and text.
After the first two prompts or so, I just noted down what happened that day, or captured a moment and made a page about it. I used to be such a good student when I went to school, but nowadays I might be the teacher's nightmare. Always going astray. And often getting lost. Well, the latter did not happen in this project.

This page is about the day Yoga classes started again. It seems so simple: breathe in, breathe out. Move slowly and concentrate.
Concentrate. Don't think about other things. Forget about the ToDo list. Better still, don't think at all. And that is hard. My brain does not like to be shut up. It loves to wonder off. And off. Again. It is December now and I think I am able to learn this. Give me another year or two!

We hate traffic jams, hubby and I. They are just plain boring. And annoying. So we kind of make it a sport to avoid them and use the smaller country roads to get back home. Hubby has a thing with ferries. And he knows most of them on the Rhine, Lek and Maas river. So here in land which is divided by many rivers, the solution is to use a small ferry instead a large bridge on the highway.
And as a bonus you get to step out of the car for a minute or two and enjoy the fresh air!

This is a page about just a horrible day. There is not much to tell about it. These kind of days are the days you just want to avoid. Way too stressfull. Too bad you can't avoid these awful days, they are just as much part of life as the happy ones!

Another way of relaxation for me is sewing by hand. Doing a bit of patchwork, or in this month, making a quilt. The soft texture of the cloth, the movement of the needle putting it all together. There is something magical about it. Or maybe it is not magical, but so simple, easy and relaxing. After all these years I am still trying to figure this out!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Yesterday the temperature dropped below zero (Celsius) and the cyclamen and winter pansies dropped their colourful heads.
This morning we woke up in a true Winter Wonder land with snow everywhere! And it doesn't even melt. Can you believe that? Melting snow is what we normally have here in the Netherlands.

So I went outside, cleaned out the bird feeding houses - the birds had quite some trouble getting to the feed, man they are sometimes fighting to get some seeds - and took some snapshots of objects covered in snow.

And the blue bistroset in front of the house (don't you love that splash of colour in winter?) seems to be totally out of place!

The garden, which is normally a big mess, looks even beautiful today! Snow covers all the flaws. And the mess... You've got to love snow!
Unless you have a perfectly manicured garden maybe?

The christmas tree is still outside and covered in snow as well. I was planning to take it inside and start looking for the boxes with the lights and ornaments. But I think I will delay the decoration for another while. No decoration can match that snow on its branches. Way too beautiful!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Days of September (part 4)

More pictures of the little journal that I made during September. First I tried following the prompts of, but life caught up and I decided to forget the prompts and make a page about my days.
Let's start with one of my addictions: book stores and art material stores.
I admit it - I am addicted to these stores. And when I enter, all my common sense is left by the door.

I truly need that marker, or that colour paint is exactly what I am looking for. And does one ever has enough paper? Of course not!
Books? You need books cause they make you smarter, isn't that so? And if it turn out to be a boring one, I can always alter it anyway...

Dyeing fabric yourself is a fun process: you can never predict the outcome of the results. I like that. Well, at least sometimes: not knowing where you are going. Untill I am lost, but that is a different story.
Back to the fabrics!
Patience was what I really needed when I started rinsing the fabric. You have to rinse it untill the water runs clear. Several times, after hours of rinsing, I thought the pieces of fabric were ready. But by laying them aside, they started to loose more dye. Arrrggghhh.

The Lesson I learned? I like dyeing the fabric - just not the rinsing... I don't have that kind of patience.

This day a small miracle happened. Nothing that changed the world though, but something ordinary turned this normal day into a great day. My mother said my name out loud.
I know, most mothers talk to their daughters. But this was special.
Very special.
Two weeks after the major CVA which left her even more handicapped than before, my mother knew who I was. Not just a stranger next to her bed, but her daughter.
When she said it, I realised that saying that one word meant the world to me.

Driving around in the Netherlands can sometimes be a great and boring adventure. In September lots of roadwork was going on and we sneaked to Breda using smaller roads and thinking we were so smart to duck the traffic jams.
We managed to escape two major traffic jams but in the end we drove into other (smaller though) traffic jams. It was a hot day and I was frustrated. I did not want to spend the whole day in the car.
I got a bit irritated. Especially when we were so close to the end point and drove right in another one. I looked in the rear window and saw Ashley enjoying the ride and being relaxed as one (dog) can be.
Sigh, sometimes I wish I was a dog.

I think this page needs no explanation. Under pressure: these two words say it all.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Days of September (part 3)

As promised, more pictures of the little art journal that I made about my life in September. This page was about the spiders that I scared away (in other words plainly killed) when cleaning the shutters outside. I know, spiders do a good job by catching all kind of insects. But I needed to do my job too!

I don't know why I was so upset when someone said that I was a chaotic. Maybe because I do my best to organise and structure life in my family. So for this page I rescued some of my ToDo lists from the waste basket and tacked them messy on this page. As proof that I am not? Convincing myself? Anyway, every time I see that page I have to smile!

Painting class started again in September and I was eager to get some serious painting done. But starting up again after a long summer was not that easy. I started with a painting of flowers, then changed my mind, covered it in gesso and started on a bird in the sky. And changed my mind again... And to this day the painting is still not finished! :D

I enjoyed the warm and glowing days of September so much that I did not notice the changing colours untill I went out with Ashley, our dog, to one of our favorite places! Time really flies.

I captured Coco in a crazy, lazy position on the couch. She was not feeling well and I took her to the vet (miauwing all the way down there). One shot of antibiotics was needed, because Coco does not do pills!
I have tried several times before getting her to take tablets: wrapped in liver, grounded and wrapped in ham. But whatever trick I try, it always ends with me being scratched by a very determined cat to spit out tablets as soon as possible. So now instead of getting scratched by her every day, the lady gets one (expensive) shot of the vet... Well, at least I don't get caught in her nails!
Special cat food should prevent more trouble...

On this day a telephone call that seemed so unreal. My mother had a cerebrovascular accident: a severe haemorrhage in the brain. I was told that she was blind according to the doctor and her blood pressure over the top. It seemed impossible to get well and we prepared for the worse.
But against all odds she did survive! Later that day she reacted on my hands in front of her face - her (poor) sight came back. And the next day she could take her medication again because the 'swallow reflex' came back. She did not recover fully and I feel like I am loosing her bit by bit.
On this day I learned that letting go was harder than I ever thought.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Days of September (Part 2)

At last, after 3 weeks my computer is back from the repairshop. Next time a fuse is blown, I will check the electric appliances in the house right away! My DH casually announced that he had blown a fuse but there was nothing to worry about.
The computer had been turned on when the fuse went down, but since it was protected by a power surge I never expected to smell something burned when I came back in my room. Sniffing like a dog I went around the outlets. The scent came from the corner where my computer stands. At that moment my heart skipped a beat. I turned on the monitor but that seemed OK. I just assumed that the computer was all right as well and that the burning smell came from the socket which DH had used.

A few hours later I turned on the computer. No way. It did not turn on. I had enough hope though that only the power unit had been burned. Since I also had problems starting up Windows Vista, I saw this as a good opportunity to have these problems fixed as well.
But one setback after the other followed. Like: power units not available for this casing, new casing needed, start problems due to bad memory chip.
To make the story short, it took 3 weeks to get the computer back.

But I was happy as a kid when I picked up the computer and gladly payed the bill. The joy did not last long. After two days the old start up problem accured again... I phoned the store and asked them to fish out the 'old' memory chip from the bin - which they did - and asked for assistance in solving this mystery.

Now the problem seems to be in my anti-virus software... You know, that piece of software you can't use without cause it protects the computer. Well, only if it works smoothly with Vista, it is. For now I try to solve this problem with the people of Kaspersky.

So here at last, are, as promised, some more pages of the journal that I made in September. Well, better late then never... :-)
Since I had extra time left when the computer was in repair, I reworked most of the pages during these past weeks. I will need to shoot new pictures to show you how they really look. So I only upload two pages today. Hopefully the rest will follow later this week. If I can keep that *#@!*&* computer running!

These pages were made when I enjoyed the last warm days of September: quilting in the sun, taking pictures of butterflies and enjoying the many birds in the garden. Life's little pleasures...

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Days of September (part 1)

Last month I tried to keep up with the online class from But I ended up making most of the daily pages in October. With more free time and without the pressure it was easier to make new pages and work on the earlier pages that were 'finished'.

On a sunny day in September I managed to dye the fabric that I got as a gift. The dye solutions were made several weeks before and should have been used as soon as possible, but that did not keep me from trying weeks later.
Several pieces were tied with elastic bands, a few were hand-stitched in some fantasy forms and the rest was scrunched up before dipping them in the dye.
I learned that I made too much dye solution! There is still enough left to dye another batch of fabric.

The page about Healing was made after a visit to a massage therapist who managed to relax the tied-up muscles in my neck. The result: finally being able to sleep after weeks of interrupted nights. What a luxury!

This is the page with a picture that I took back in August, leaving the train after standing still for 2 hours while firemen and the technical service of the railway company cleaned up the train: someone had jumped in front of the train on purpose.
The idea that when the train hit the breaks so suddenly, someone lost his or her life kept me haunting for such a long time. People with plastic bags searching for the remains, checking the undercarriage with flashlights...
A few weeks after the incident I was meant to go the same route with the train. But that night I woke up around 2 a.m. and could not go back to sleep anymore. I did not travel that day.

It was not the first time that it happened - earlier this year my train was late and someone jumped before the oncoming train. We also had to wait in our train for two hours before the track was cleared and it was back then that the conductor explained about the procedures. The first priority is to find all the parts of the body...

A week after the sleepless night, I found my common sense back and boarded the train again for that same trip.

Luckily there were some very special enjoyable moments in September too. This day I was sitting in the garden, ignoring the usuable weeds and the work that had to be done.
The sun shone and I just love the sun in the autumn: warm and inviting but not so overpowering as in summer. The garden was filled with birds, bees and even butterflies enjoyed the weather.
This one probably thought I was a flower and landed on my shoulder while I was sewing a quilt. I did not move and could see him so well: his eyes, the long tongue that he rolled up. What a little miracle it was to have him near me.
Eventually he flew away, but stopped by every now and then to sit on the little table next to me to warm up his wings. It was then that I was able to take a picture of him - he was asking for it!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A New Month, a Better Month?

September has not been the best month of the year for me. The weather was umbelievably wonderful and kind, and did its best to cheer me up. But most of the month felt like being in a storm of little and big life events. At one point my hubby and I looked at each other and asked the same question: What is going on?
Where is this all coming from?

Anyway, I had started the month with good intentions: Doing an online class from and trying to make a small page about the things you can learn from that day. It seemed such a good way of getting myself in the habit of actually being creative every day. But boy, did I overestimate my ability.
What I learned most, is that I can't make a page every day! Sometimes I can make 3 pages on one day, but most of the time I had to push all the ideas forward (I did make notes though). And this means that up to today I have finished 17 pages, including the cover, which BTW might need some extra work, and makes me probably the slowest student of the class.
Is there an award for that?
Or maybe I should say that I just prolong the fun?

Here are the first two actual pages that I made. The other pages will get a place on this blog as well. Even though I did not follow all the prompts and ideas. In retrospect, I might have skipped all the prompts after the first week...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More photographs processed

It seems that the holiday in Norfolk is my most productive holiday photograph wise! I took so many (different) photographs and still have not all images processed! I shoot always in RAW, a digital format which you could see as a digital negative that has to be processed (adjust colour, colour balance, contrast etc.) before you have the final picture that can be shown on the web or be printed out.
Creake Abbey was a wonderful place to be. I liked the tranquility of the place, these old crumbled down buildings, still standing as a testament for the people who lived here and tried to make life easier for the older people.
The abbey was built in as a home for several old men who needed care. The building was extended over 300 years till a plague killed all the inhabitants except the abbot, who was the only survivor.
How devasting this must have been. The abbey was abandent and left to fall apart.
This goes not so quick with these old buildings with those thick walls.
Lucky for us that they are still there - to enjoy them.

Since there were hardly any people visiting here, I had loads of opportunities to take pictures from all angles. This one was taken with me lying on the freshly mowed grass, a lovely experiece!
A perfect afternoon: feeling the spirit of time, beautiful structures with such a beauty, ever changing weather with gloomy skies and rays of sunlight spreading out.
How do you capture the essence of such a wonderful place?

Well, this is one of my efforts!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Altered Book: Artistic Expression

This was the last book of the Altered Books Round Robin from our ABEurope (Yahoo) group that I received to work in.
Serena had chosen the theme: "Artistic Expression under Pressure"

I did not manage to get all the text into one spread, so I added another spread to finish the sentence:
Expres your inner vision - no fear - without limitations.
I just hope that the English words that I used these way were correct! Anyway, Serena is an Italian artist, so with a bit of luck she will not notice any problems with the grammar! :-)

For these spreads I tried to use much layering and different techniques, trying to get rid of some old habits and developing new ways of communicating ideas.
I have been using acrylic inks, paint, paintsticks, stencils, alphabeth stamps, spraying, hand made stamps and embellishements and drawings in pencil!
The book will be send to the US, since Serena recently moved away from Germany. (Normally we keep the Round Robins limited to Europe because of the cost and time of snail mail).

My own book "Truth, Secrets and Lies" came back homely. I thought there would be loads of pages to work in, but the book is filled with artwork from our members. Quite a treasure!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Evening at Cromer Pier

While we were in Norfolk, John from the EPZ website organised a mini EPZmeet with EPZers Kathy, Vince and me with hubbie in Norwich. Not the first EPZ ers we met on our holiday - on our first sunset at the beach of Hunstanton we had also met Jules by chance!
Since we could not get enough of EPZ members, we also had a mini - mini - meet with Kathy and Vince at the Pier of Cromer the last week of the holiday.

The Pier was much smaller than I thought, but had wonderful features. I liked these old benches. The sunset was obscured by clouds, so we had hardly any colour in the sky. At home I decided that I could add my own colours to the image! I opted for these soft colours and a pinhole effect.

Before the sunset, there was enough light to just walk around and take pictures of the Pier without our tripods - the unused tripods were worth a shot as well!

And guess what? The girls were wandering around with the biggest tripods...! :-)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Peaceful Place

While in Norfolk, we went out to the Broads because my hubbie wanted to photograph the mills there. During our search for these mills, we came across this little church and overgrown old graveyard.
It was late afternoon, the sun was just coming over the top of the trees which surrounded the church yard.
The white flowers of the weeds were catching the light, swinging on the light breeze. The old tombstones were scattered around the yard. Some were still standing up, others were leaning over. The stones were quite old, often covered in patterns of lychen.
I stood in the shadow of the old trees and overlooked the scene. It was such a peaceful moment, the light, the breeze and the mood of the yard. Untouched for such a long time, undisturbed for years.
Despite all the photographic rules, I took this shot into the sunlight, hoping to capture that peaceful moment.
When I look at this photograph, I still remember that feeling, the peace and the quiet.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bird with Attitude

Normally a photographer won't take a picture of a bird who has turned his back to the lens. Because without the head, the eyes, there is often not much to look at.
But this was not true for this bird. Look at him, can you see how he is walking? Like a model on a catwalk. This is a bird with attitude, I'll tell you!
I was working at this image while the radio played the song: "I am walking away from the troubles in my life" by Craig David.
The perfect title for this image.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Hunger Book

TJ, an American artist from Studiomailbox and member/moderator of the ABEurope Group made a book from brown shopping bags for the Round Robin by stitching them together.
Adding gesso and glueing food wrappers in the book to make a statement after seeing people in Berlin begging for food.

One out of 6 people in the world is hungry. Not just having a craving for food, but really hungry because they are too poor or live in a place where no food is available.

Here in the West we have lots of food to choose from, every day again. We often eat more than 3 times a day. We snack in between meals, we drive through 'drive-ins' to get our fast food even faster. In the meantime we are faced with a generation that is overeating or eating unhealthy food.

On the other side, commercial ads and fashion shows models with size 0 on the catwalk and in fashion magazines. Girls growing up are faced everyday with these images and long to look like these so-called role models. The diet market worldwide is worth billions of dollars and a market that is still growing every year.

Looks like we live in a world that's upside down...
In the spread that I made, I used a pizza box to make the super model. Behind the title, my view on the subject is written. Tags with the calory overviews (now mandatory in the Netherlands) of different foods hang from the top of the page.
Tip-ins of the boxes of different foods that I like, are added too.
And yes, I am a vegetarian. I can choose to be this because I can afford to eat every day and have a choice from different vegatarian products.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pictures from Norfolk

I haven't started yet to process all my pictures from our recent holiday to Norfolk, England. As usual I am wrapped up in paperwork which seems to reduce my creative energy by the day.
Here are a few that I managed to do.
The first one was at our first evening in Hunstanton. We went to the beach, hoping for a beautiful sunset but the clouds were hiding the setting sun. Still trying to get the most of the evening I tried several positions, but one other photographer was also on the beach and kept his place, keeping showing up in my frame. So I picked up the tripod and bag and splashed through the water past him to set up the camera again.
While passing him, the man asks: "Are you by any chance an EPZer?" Yeah, of course I am! What a coincidence to meet another photographer from the EPZ website while spending an evening on the beach! What a small place the world can be!

This shot was taken the next evening on that same beach. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the waves were quite high. Since the tide was in, it was not easy to take pictures while fiddling with the filters and in the meantime escaping the bigger waves, jumping from rock to rock, or running away.
Soon one of my boots was filled with water! No time though to do something about it since we had some colour in the sky and the light changed by the minute, so pressing the button on that camera and trying different positions and compositions was more important.
Too bad that I did not know about this 'salt spray' thing at the seaside. I managed to keep the filters dry, but did not notice that the salty air was polluting the filters anyway. So in the end most of the shots of that evening were ruined by the tiny specks of salt which were sprayed into the air...
This one had the least spray on it.

The Norfolk coast is filled with little creecks and tiny harbours. We found this wreck near one of the nature reserves. Just a little boat, left behind for years and neglected. Though I took a nice picture of the wreck with good evening light, I found that combining it with different shots and elimanating the colours the image was much stronger.
Hope to get more time to process the other pictures too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Last Painting of the Course

This month we had our last lesson of the painting class I started in January. I managed to finish this painting of exotic fish. The photograph of this painting is a bit different from the reality - I took the shot in the garden on an overcast day - which should have worked, but did not...

I used acrylics on a canvas that was primed with gesso first. The source of inspiration were some poor photographs of fish in the Burger's Zoo (Arnhem).
I took those photographs despite knowing that the use of the high ISO and the camerashake caused by the long exposure time would be of low quality. What I did not know, was that some of them would turn out to be quite mysterious and eerie - often because of the movement of the fish.
The green, blue and yellow colours in the images also added to the atmosphere.
So these pictures became the inspiration for the painting. I started with the fish in the middle, and later added the second at the left hand - just peeking around the corner.

The course will start again in September. Hope though that I am still able to do some more painting this summer. But I will surely miss the help from the artist who teaches us!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Holiday in Norfolk

This year we had the luxury of going on a holiday for two weeks, instead of the ususal one week getaways.
I felt that I needed to take all my artmaterials with me, hoping that I would be able to spend time painting. But I was too restless.
Luckily, I also brought my photographic gear with me, including my macro lens. This one is kept usually at home because of the extra weight to carry around and the lack of space in my photobag.
I took the time to capture the last of the bluebells growing near the cottage we had rented - at the edge of a grand estate.
There were also some 'Columbines' growing - I like these flowers for their complicated shapes and wonderful colours. This shot is one of my favorite - I like the warm hot colours! Too bad that the weather was a bit chilly. But it provided some dramatic skies to include in the landscape photograpy, and that is always a bonus!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Altered Book: Illustrated Poems

Eileen from the ABEurope Group started the book 'Illustrated Poems' for the current Round Robin. Before it arrived I was on the lookout for English poems that I liked. But there was one that I could not get out of my head.
I did not want to use it because it is such a sad poem, even though it is so powerful and written from the heart. It is the poem called: I Am, written by John Clare (1793 - 1864) while being admitted to Northampton Asylum. Certainly not the best place to write happy or light hearted poetry!
In the end I could not find another poem that I would love to use. Despite his despair, the last three lines are probably appealing to everyone at certain moments in life: safe and without any troubles.
I wrote out the poem on a harmonica folded paper and glued it to one page. On the other page I tried to transfer a digital collage. Despite using a transparancy, the image did not transfer well and was not recognisable.
So I gessoed over it, leaving the title of the poem uncovered, and added a transparancy with the collage over it using eyelets. It does not photograph very well because of the reflection of the plastic.

I Am

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am - I live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.

John Clare

On YouTube you will find the poem being used with the software 'Crazy Talk' which makes it possible to move parts of a picture to make them 'talk'.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Painting Classes

I gave up on New Year's resolutions a long, long time ago. But for 2009 I was serious about finally taking up painting again. Since planning time for myself is so difficult in our family, a painting class seemed the answer. This would force me to go out, away from all the other distractions at home.
The class I joined, was a group of women who had been painting together for years, but they made me feel very welcome right from the beginning. The teacher, Alexandra Steen, is also very well known around here.

Since it had been quite some time since I painted, I decided to take up an old painting that I never finished. That did not work out very well, there was a very good reason that I never finished that painting!
Still unsure about myself I thought that painting an abstract would be easy. Abstracts don't have to look like anything, don't they? Just throw some paint in strange shapes on a canvas and you have an abstract, right? Well, it seems that it is not the case, painting an interesting abstract is quite difficult actually!

So the next try was painting one of my own photographs in a different scene. A painting that I wanted to do for a long time and could not get out of my head.
It took 2 lessons and some encouragement of my art teacher to paint the little girl lost on an empty beach on the canvas.
At last a painting I felt good about! I am still looking for a good way to handle my brushstrokes and painting styles, so I am sure that I will experiment in the next few paintings. In a few years time I might paint a completely different version of this scene, but for now, I am quite happy about it.
In the meantime I started painted a fish, but am still working on that one!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Celebrating Spring

At last - spring has arrived! We had a week with lots of sun, such a welcome change from the normal grey skies.
And here, just a simple picture of a tulip from the bunch which my daughter bought for me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aboriginal inspired paintings

My sister is an expert at interior decorating on a budget. She has all the patience and persistence to find the perfect fabrics, affordable furniture, coordinate colours of fabrics and paint. And she even upholsters some of her own furniture as well!

So when the giraffe fabric finally gave up on her lounge chairs - thanks to her cat's claws - she was in the market for a new couch. Since she also sews her own curtains she felt it was time to invest in a major makeover of the living room.
Within a few weeks she had found everything she needed - except something for the wall. We were exchanging ideas over the phone about painting the wall. But then I got a call from her after she had visited an art gallery where she had seen Aboriginal paintings.

To make a long story short: I got three canvasses from her, a piece of the curtain fabric for the colours and some pictures of the paintings that she loved.
I decided not to copy the designs of the paintings, copying is just not my style, but to design different patterns. I felt that the Aboriginal paintings looked like simplified bird views of different landscapes and used that as a guide for the design.
Every coloured part of the painting has been lined with little dots - how I did that will remain a secret, well - more or less...
By using gesso, sand and loads of layering of paint, the pieces have a visible texture when you view it up close. This often makes people wonder whether it was made from leather or fabric.
Anyway, she loves her new art in the living room. And I am glad that I do not have to paint her walls, even though it would have been so much quicker...