Since April I’m going to the gym twice a week. I surprised that I enjoy it. First I do a warming up on a ‘elliptical’, than strength training on different exercise machines: like this Independent Shoulder Press. It strengthens the shoulder muscles and it is the hardest exercise for me.
My great-grandfather, Jacob Keller (1872-1956), wrote every week in his diary. He was a well-to-do farmer near Dordrecht, The Netherlands. I transcribed some of his writings and published it online in a blog (in Dutch). Most of his diary entries are logging the weather and about what work he and his workers accomplished over the week. It was a tool for managing his farm, but he also had aspirations to record for future generations about the way he runs his farm and how it was done in the past. Very rarely he wrote about his personal worries and feelings. For example when he wrote a very beautifully obituary about his dog who passed away in 1914. I admire his style of writing. I suppose he loved poetry, because sometimes he cites poets in his diaries.
I don’t think he ever attended a creative writing class, because this kind of teaching didn’t exist in the village where he lived in that time. So I conclude he mainly improved his writing by writing every week, by reading other writers and by being interested in writing appealing prose. So what I learned from his diaries is that by writing regularly and having a structure (one evening a week over more than 50 years), you improve the writing. I don’t want to deny that it is inspiring, useful and fun to attend classes or conversations with fellow artists. But a large part of the learning is done by doing. This is almost the same as what Danny Gregory preaches: learn drawing by doing it. (After learning some simple basic stuff, he summarizes the book ‘Drawing on the right side of the brain’ in less than 20 pages.)
Besides that my great-grandfather was a good writer, he also was a succesful farmer. I suppose he was, because of his weekly reflections in his diaries.
The drawing above does not have any connection with the story. Or maybe it does? It is both about the influence of a dead person. The above mask is used by the Asmat when a member of their tribe is murdered. One of his fellow tribesmen will dance with this mask whole night long, representing the deceased. Through this mask communication with the deceased is possible. I did draw it in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam (The Royal Tropical Institute).
This is a fragment of my great-grandfather’s writing in one of his diaries
Our bicycle is the main form of transportation in Amsterdam. This bike we call “the cycle of our daughter” because it has an extra seat for our child. I sketched ‘my’ bike while it was standing for the window of the Coffee Company while I was drinking a latte decaf (or a bambino).
Some sketches I made while visiting Kurdish family in London during Christmas.
This is our daughter sleeping in the delayed train from Harwich to London.
At Christmas Day we had a diner which was a mixture of British, Kurdish and Iranian dishes.
In the night there was every evening something to snack. In this image: tea, dates, sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, almonds.
A few weeks ago I showed my journals to my friend Nies. She commented that she especially liked my drawings of ‘things’. It made me think further on the idea of humans versus non-humans. I believe that Danny Gregory writes that our gaze is more critical with faces and the human body, because we know it so well. When I draw a human I’m much more nervous when I draw a line which is not in accordance to reality. I can see in my drawings of humans this lack of boldness or naivity. To get around this problem Danny Gregory and Betty Edwards have some tricks: drawing an image upside down and concentrating on negative space.
My conclusion from my friend’s remarks was that I should think of humans as things. I didn’t bother very much that the lines of the notebook in this drawing are not straight. In the same way I would like to try to have this same attitude with lines of faces. In this mindset I did draw this face of M. and that is the reason I like this portrait.
I like the two pages together, so I photographed them, because it is too big for the scanner. The left is bodhisatva Quan Yin (Guan Yin, Kwan Jin). She is a budhist, chinese goddess who traveled from India to China. In India she was male and called Avalokiteśvara, in China is became female. She also has been influenced by Mary the mother of Jesus. Quan Yin is the goddess of compassion, and is generally regarded by many as the protector of women and children.
We brachten deze zomer door in het Zwitserse chalet van vrienden. De buitenkant van het huis is traditioneel, de binnenkant was grondig herontworpen. ‘s Avonds als dochter B. in bed lag, tekende ik de details van het huis. Ik had me voorgenomen het schriftje kado te geven aan de huiseigenaars en zo werd ik gedwongen me beter te concentreren op het tekenen.