Saturday, January 12, 2008

French Sketchbook; Out with the Old, In with the New! ~ Frans Schetsboek; Het Oude is Vol, We Beginnen met een Nieuw!

Sacha here! I'm turning this post over to "mom", who has been busy cleaning her studio, organizing stuff and scanning her sketchbooks. I guess these are the things you humans must do at the beginning of a new year... me ?, I'm busy stalking my toy mouse. Anyway, over to "mom"and her sketchbook:

French Vacations sketchbook # 1 is finished!

While I was in France in December, I finished the remaining pages in my Moleskine sketchbook that I've themed: "French Vacations". We were in France in the early weeks of December, 2007 - then we returned to Holland and the busy holidays took up my time! I finally got around to scanning the rest of the sketchbook this week, so here they are along with some photos that Auke took.

All of my sketches were done with Sigma Micron ink pens, Winsor & Newton Artists watercolors and some Schmincke watercolors in my large Moleskine sketchbook. The weather wasn't ideal...but I didn't care. It was so cold, that not many of these sketches were done outside...well it was December and I'm not the most courageous of en plein air sketchers ... no, no, non! :p

Camiers, France - our home base!
We rented this house in Camiers, France. Camiers is a smallish village just south of Boulogne sur Mer, in the Nord pas de Calais region of France. The house was once an old farm house, but has been refurbished inside and out...sleeps about 9 really, but it was just the two of us. Nice & quiet!

"The White House in Camiers, France - Dec., 2007"
copyright 2007-2008, Judith Nijholt-Strong

The owners of the house had decorated the inside for Christmas. "Joyeux Noël" was everywhere! This was a funny little ceramic light that made a strange, soft, moaning sound as the little train in its tummy went 'round & 'round ... sort of a "Frosty the Snowman". Kind of ugly, but also, oddly charming ... lol

"Frosty in Camiers, France"
copyright 2007-2008, Judith Nijholt-Strong

La Touquet/Paris Plage - too cold to draw!
Camiers is also not far away from La Touquet/Paris Plage, so we took a ride over to see. It had been fiercely storming the day before and it was horribly cold & blustery in La Touquet. We decided a walk on the beach (Paris Plage) was out of the question, but a nice break for coffee, tea and crepes was a good idea! I had the Crepes Myrtilles (wild mountain blueberries) and Chantilly (sweet whipped cream) ... mmmmm!

"Crepe Myrtilles - La Touquet, France"
copyright 2007-2008, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Amiens - Cathedral Colors and Christmas Markets
Another day of our winter vacation we decided to spend in Amiens. Amiens is about one and a half hours from Camiers and is in the department Somme, region Picardie of France. Known as the capital of the Picardie, it is famous for its Notre Dame Cathedral and was also the home of writer Jules Verne - he was honored in Christmas lighting throughout the city!

"Jules Verne's "Nautilus" in Christmas Lights - Amiens, France - Dec., 2007."
Image copyright 2007-2008, Auke Nijholt

We went there to visit the Christmas Markets in the downtown (centreville) of the city...
"Carousel & Christmas Trees - Amiens, France - Dec., 2007"
Image copyright 2007-2008, Auke Nijholt

... and to see the front of the Amiens Cathedral lit up at night in the colors that it would have been painted with in the 13th century- it is the largest of the Gothic cathedrals in France. The light show, "Amiens, la cathédrale en couluers", is put on after dark during the summer months and the month of December. The entire light show lasts about an hour or so, with an audio narrative in both French & English. The show can be seen from the cathedral plaza on the front side/entrance. It was rather cold that night, but the colors were truly amazing to see and I am so happy we went. Simply put, it was magnificent.

"Cathedral in Colors - Amiens, France. December, 2007"
Images copyright 2007-2008, Auke Nijholt & Judith Nijholt-Strong
Panasonic Lumix digital camera - night setting

Early in the afternoon, I took a seat in front of the cathedral entrance and tried to sketch some of the ornamentation over the main portal of the entrance (there are 3 portals). I'm fascinated with the ornamentaion on the outsides and insides of the cathedrals in France. I studied French Gothic arhitecture when I was at university, only looking at pictures in books; I must say, the real thing is far more awe inspiring. This is the fifth real French cathedral I've attempted to sketch. It was pretty cold sitting on that stone bench outside, but I got something down, did a bit more hatching in a café nearby and added the touch of watercolors when I returned to the house in Camiers.

"Amiens Cathedral Sketches - Amiens, France - Dec. 2007"
copyright 2007-2008 Judith Nijholt-Strong

A day in Boulogne sur Mer - Hauteville.
Boulogne sur Mer is about 30 minutes north of Camiers if you take the highway... if you go the more scenic route, it takes longer! It's a large port city, located on the English Channel, with the very special Hauteville (high city) at its highest top ... and I do mean high!

The hauteville is crowned on top by the Basillica Notre Dame and nearby the basillica is the old manor-like castle (château) that was built in the 13th century. You can tour parts of the Château; a very interesting tour. The Château Musée (Castle Museum) contains displays of Egyptian artifacts (including a 3,000 yr. old mummy), a large collection of Greek artifacts (shared with the Louvre collection), Roman artifacts, Native American artifacts, Pre-Columbian artifacts and rare finds of Medieval artifacts. It's a very interesting collection....not terribly big, but filled with many fascinating objects.

"Kodiak Masks in Château Musée, Boulogne sur Mer, France"
©2007-2008. Judith Nijholt-Strong

You are not allowed to take pictures inside the Musée, but no one said I couldn't draw what I was looking at. So, I did! These sketches were colored in after I returned to Camiers, as I didn't want to risk getting in trouble with my watercolors and the Dutchman can only wait so long for me to finish! I made notations on my sketches where to place which colors I was looking jog my visual memory.

"Ancient Jewels (brooch & earrings) in the Château Musée - Boulogne sur Mer, France" copyright 2007-2008, Judith Nijholt-Strong

It was still brrrrr cold outside, so we did a lot of ducking into cafés for something hot to drink... I had a cup of Vin Chaud (hot wine with cinnamon) ... mmmm. This very pink, and oh so French, pharmacy caught my eye. It was across the street from a little café we stopped in to warm up!
"The Pink Pharmacy in Boulogne sur Mer, France"
copyright 2007-2008, Judith Nijholt-Strong

All the shops, cafés and restaurants in Boulogne sur Mer were decked out in Christmas decorations. There was also a Christmas market in the Hauteville, but we were a day too early for it and had to leave the next day...oh well, maybe next year.

"Entreé Hauteville at Christmas - Boulogne sur Mer, France - Dec., 2007"
Image copyright 2007-2008, Auke Nijholt

And then there was the very important stop at the bakery in Boulogne sur Mer. I can hardly speak a word of French, but I can point! Mmmmm, "La Religieuse Caramel", s'il vous plaît! Don't ask me why its called "The Riligious", but...uhh... maybe because it tastes so devine!! I did this sketch when we returned to the house in Camiers and let me say, I had bought two - one to eat and one to draw! :-) The little purple flowers on the top right are violet flavored (and colored) candies that I bought in Amiens the day before and I like them, not everyone does.
"La Religieuse Caramel" copyright 2007-2008, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Back In Camiers, and time to leave...
The day before we left France, we made our pilgrimage to the E.LeClerc grocery store. I made this small sketch from the car, while getting gas. It was cold and icy outside..but it didn't matter, I was in France!

"Waiting outside the LeClerc - Attun, France - Dec.,2007."
copyright 2007-2008. Judith Nijholt-Strong
I love the E.LeClerc stores... can't help it, they are grocery heaven (if you lived in Holland you'd understand...maybe) . So, after we stocked up on some need to have French delicacies (cheese, cookies, salted butter from Brittany, brioche, wines, lavendar handsoap from Marseille name a few things), we bought some chocolate Christmas ornaments for our tree in Holland. They happened to be German chocolates and they were so pretty in their colorful gold-foil, that "moi" just couldn't resist! heh heh.

"Chocolate Ornaments"
copyright 2007-2008 Judith Nijholt-Strong

And that's the last page in the French Vacations Sketchbook #1.

Tot ziens! Au revoir!

and Sacha too!

(P.S. Because someone asked me if I only sketch in France: Yes, I do have a "Travels in the Netherlands" sketchbook...but haven't worked out how to fit all of it into this blog just yet...rofl! - Judy)

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Christmas Mouse ~ De Kerst Muis

What did I get for Christmas, you've been wondering? I'm sure you

A colorful mouse, of course (Een kleurrijk muisje, natuurlijk) .

This is what my Christmas gift looked like when it was new in 2007.

This is what my Christmas gift looked like after I kicked it around a bit in 2008 (which was only just a few days ago... I waited until the new year to attack it.)

Sad, isn't it? (Triest, denk je niet?)

What ?! (Wat ?!)

You think I mishandled it ??!
(Denk je dat ik de muis mishandeld heb ??!)

Do I have to wait a whole year for a new one ?
(Moet ik een heel jaar wachten voor een nieuwe?)

I've heard that "Mom & Dad" are going back to Paris (Parijs) this month ... I think I shall request a new mouse (nieuwe muis) !

Miauw (Meow) ,

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year, 2008 - Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, 2008

Image copyright 2008 Judith Nijholt-Strong. all rights reserved.
La Mairie in Camiers, France ~ Dec. 2007

This photo was taken in Camiers, France where, just before Christmas, "mom & dad" spent a lovely week in Dec. 2007. This is the town hall of the village (town hall = "la mairie" in french , "gemeentehuis" in dutch).

Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful new year!

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! Happy New Year!

Proost! ( cheers!),
Sacha the "kat in klompen"
& Judy, her human


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