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As September slides into October, heralding the rapid advance of autumn, here’s a quick round-up of the colours of my Dutch summer…
being away at peak seedling planting time meant no vegetable growing adventures for me this year, but my mini rock garden, and the allium bulbs I planted in the autumn last year, put on a very good show!
august mid-morning moon | laser 3.14‘s perceptive brand of street poetry
gira loves this beautiful blue shweshwe duvet cover (made by my super-talented mum)… i suspect it might be because he knows how good he looks on it :)
soft pink early morning views from the studio
leiden is rocking the pink too!
lotus @ hortus botanicus, leiden
gingko | venation
~ and you don’t get greens like those above, without a bit of the below ~
street art in leiden | stained glass window designed by willem bogtman, haarlem, 1920’s (as seen at the ‘living in the amsterdam school: designs for the interior 1910-1930‘ exhibition at amsterdam’s stedelijk museum)
everyone loves the sun(flower)
rainbow cherry toms, ready for slow-roasting
blue-eyed visitor at my studio window | radiant brickwork, amsterdam
brick gables, haarlem | beautiful berries (buds? anyone know what this fascinating plant is?)
to the beach!
kite-flying | fallow deer grazing on the verdant dune grasses at zandvoort
grey is a colour too
au revoir summer!
geveltuin, blue hydrangea | full moon, after magritte
Having friends or family to stay is always a great excuse to explore locally, to take time out to notice details of one’s everyday surroundings in a way one might not normally do. We had a lot of fun with our summer visitors exploring, amongst other Dutch cities, our new(ish) hometown (Haarlem) and our (very nearby!) old hometown (Amsterdam). Here’s a summery glimpse of these two fine cities…
headless lion | red door
huisjes and hollyhocks
(do the houses imitate the beer… or does the beer imitate the houses?)
the anatomy lesson
turtle, seahorse, yarn bomb
disembodied jib | petunia-tastic hanging basket
good grub @ foodhallen
canis minor, or a plutoid?
easy riding hells hound
a bit of boating (on the spaarne river & bakenessergracht)
clover gevelsteen | strawberry geveltuin
… and finally: RIP
this beautiful tree, as seen from my studio window at the end of may, came crashing down (along with some 400 other trees in haarlem) on the 25th of july, during what has been described as “the worst summer storm since records began”… it was a magnificent tree and is a very sad loss indeed.
approximate translations & explanations of dutch words used above:
gevelsteen – ‘gable stone’, a carved and often colourfully painted stone tablet set into the wall of a building, serving to embellish and memorably identify the building. Introduced in the second half of the 16th century they became less widely used with the advent of house numbering during the 18th century, but the tradition certainly lives on and ‘gevelsteen spotting’ can be a very visually rewarding pursuit!
geveltuinen – literally a ‘facade gardens’ (I don’t think there’s a succinct or elegant english translation?) are bright and beautiful mini-oases of green flanking the building facades and pavements on residential city streets, planted and cared for by the streets’ residents. And I discovered this summer, my first living in this city, that Haarlemmers sure know a thing or two about creating charming geveltuinen :-)
February is upon us already and I still feel like I’m scrabbling to catch up with the second half of 2014. Moving home can do that to you, apparently. I have moved between countries and continents in the past but this last move – just to a new city, and not even that far away, in the same country – really seemed to take its toll (go figure?!?). Anyway, while I scrabble, I’ll focus my next couple of posts on some fun projects from the latter half of last year that I’m not quite ready to assign to the trash heap of history (i.e. the dark and dusty, forgotten crevices and black holes of my computer’s hard drive ;)
ink your skin, amsterdam
First up, a tattoo design requested by a friend: he wanted a design inspired by cherry (sakura) blossoms and, as a ‘design brief’, wrote a brief ‘personal history’ describing the meaningful and important life experiences each blossom in the design would signify. It was a pleasure to work with someone who knew what they wanted (and, perhaps more importantly, why they wanted it) on this very permanent design.
Here are some work-in-progress pictures of the design, ranging from the very stylised to somewhat more naturalistic…
sakura tattoo design work-in-progress
He chose for a smoother, more stylised version of the gnarled and knobbly qualities of ancient cherry trees – which gave me lots of opportunity, while finalising the design, to draw the fluid, serpentine lines I so enjoy drawing!
sakura tattoo design
We opted for a deeper, redder colour than the soft pinks and whites usually associated with cherry blossoms, and the ‘branch’ has been designed to ‘grow’ over time, i.e. to seamlessly continue up the arm so more buds or blossoms can be added in the future (as those important life experiences stack up… as they are wont to do :)
During the design process we checked in with the tattoo artist who would be doing the actual ‘needlework’ (Mick at Ink Your Skin) to ensure the design could be feasibly translated into ink on skin.
And then it was time for my friend to take the plunge! I tagged along for moral support and, as it wasn’t my skin being pierced between 50 and 3,000 times per minute by a super-sharp needle, I really enjoyed observing the tattooist at work (steady hands and steady eyes a must!) and learning more about the skin-inking process.
remarkably relaxed under pressure!
customised vinyl critter and airbrushed mandala painting
in ink your skin’s window gallery
You can find Ink Your Skin here or at Kerkstraat 115, Amsterdam… if you’re looking to get your skin inked!
I’m in the process of packing up to move home and studio to a new city (albeit a nearby one) and it’s proving, not surprisingly, to be a time-and-energy-consuming process. Luckily I have a very attentive project manager keeping me on my toes…
project manager gira oversees the packing process from atop a pile of boxes
In between house-hunting (& finding :), renovation work (& countless trips back and forth between Amsterdam and Haarlem), packing, and all the other stuff of life I’ve spent some enjoyable time finally completing my ‘noir’ specimen collection with this moth print…
It’s printed in a limited edition of 13 (plus 1 AP) and completes this collection, made a couple of years ago…
At that time I printed the moths as a four-colour screenprint, but I experienced some technical ‘snap-off’ problems when printing them, and also wasn’t fantastically happy with my colour choices – I felt the crisp, graphic lines of the original Indian ink drawing would be more satisfying as a one colour print (I’m a sucker for the graphic simplicity and velvety tactility of dense black screenprinting ink). Not wanting to waste those dud four-colour prints, I stained them with tea and set them free…
in the hills above la roche-en-ardenne (ardennes, belgium)
in st. elisabeth cemetery (berlin, germany)
in tokai arboretum (cape town, south africa)
(and in several other places I no longer recall)
If you would like a single specimen or collection of your own, all of the (still available) prints from the ‘noir’ and colour series can be found in my Etsy shop. (I’ll temporarily close the shop from 19 September until
±1 October ± mid-October while I move etc.)
And now I must dash as I think I can hear my project manager calling…
False alarm! He’s having a well-deserved catnap.