Thursday, December 30, 2010

art in leuven

My husband and I will be leaving Leuven, Belgium, our home for the past 16 weeks, and heading to Nijmegen, The Netherlands.  Although we are very excited to be seeing a new part of the world, we are sad to leave this wonderful town.  It is amazing how quickly you can develop and attachment for a place and feel that it is home. 

So, in honor of our departure, I thought I would share some of the amazing artwork found in this very city.  If Europe has one thing over the United States, it is the availability to see amazing artwork.  In Leuven we had a chance to tour their new museum, Museum M, as well as wander through the gorgeous cathedral, which is a museum in and of itself. 

They had an entire room of paintings featuring places in Leuven.  This is of the inside of the Cathedral.

This is a close up of the previous painting.  The detail is amazing!

This exhibition ‘Victimes de la Passion’ featured work by Robert Devriendt who paints tiny pictures that tell a story in a grouping

The detail he manages to get on the tiny 2x3 inch canvases is amazing

This museum had a collection of artifacts from the Congo found 100 years ago when Belgium colonized it

They did this exhibit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Congo becoming independent

This is probably my favorite painting simply because the colors are so vibrant and are excellently chosen.  This shows the scenes of Jesus leading to the cross.

This is a clock/calendar that was created around the year 1500

A close up of the calendar, it not only tells the time and date, but the relation of humans to the universe

I don't have information on this statue, but I simply had to share it

The creamy white material is very beautiful and I love the way they had it lit up

I hope these photos were able to share even a fraction of how beautiful this work is.  I feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy this level of artistic skill on a regular basis.  

Related Articles
Moving On - New around here?  Catch up on what I'm doing in Europe and where I'm going next
Female Figure Art - See some artwork I have created while here in Leuven
Louvain, Louvain - Check out this video I made of our home in Leuven

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

nude watercolors

I have been working on my nude watercolor paintings since my the last time I shared a few of my first attempts. This is exciting for me because I am feeling some real connections with this style and the subjects.  

I want to share two small paintings I completed that are of the same pose, but slightly different characteristics.  This first piece came out so well that I wanted to try it again, thus the second attempt.  Notice on the first one that there are quite a number of white spaces with no paint, and a light color yellow in many other parts.

This is the second run at the same pose, with less white space and darker colors in general.  I also tried to fill up the paper a bit more by making the figure larger.

I think they are both successful and can't decide which I like more.  I am interested to see if you feel the same as I do, or are drawn to one more than the other.  Let me know what you think!

Also, I have been working a lot on the new series you will see at Dirksen Dabbles called P[art]nership.  The first post will be up on January 4th and it is going to be great!

Related Articles
Female Figure Art - A look at my first attempt at figure art with watercolors
Watercolor Technique - Black Paper - My newest technique turned out better than I thought!
P[art]nership - A further explanation of what to expect with this new series

Friday, December 24, 2010

belgian workspace

Merry Christmas Eve!

I am snowed in and loving it.  Belgium has seen very unusual amounts of snow this year and we couldn't be happier with the results.  Yesterday we traveled to a nearby town to see their Christmas Market and experienced it in near blizzard weather!  It was cold and windy but still wonderful.

As a little treat for Christmas I thought I would share my Belgian workspace.  Below is a photo of the desk I use for painting when the inspiration hits.  If you click on the image you will be able to read some fun notes I included.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Related Articles
Leuvense Kerstmarkt - Take a look at some goodies I bought at the Christmas Market in Leuven
A Little Europe - A collection of photos from my trip to Paris
Photos for Inspiration - Trying to pick which photos to choose is I need your help

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

watercolor technique - black paper

My last trip to the art supply store left me with two pads of paper for watercolors and two pads of paper for drawing.  The watercolor paper is white, the drawing is black.  I've really gotten into watercolors, and not drawing, so guess what...I need more white paper. 

As you may remember, it was difficult for me to find an art supply store in Belgium that was close by and ended up having to travel to Brussels for it.  Because of this inconvenience, I couldn't quickly run and pick up more paper.  So what did I do?  Started painting watercolors on black paper.

And who knew?  It looks awesome!

My first effort on black.  Try to ignore the birds...they look awful.

What I really want you to see is this grass!

Didn't the texture come out splendidly?

This was my second effort and it looks even better

I love the way the grass looks like it's blowing in the at the beach

I feel that a lot more grass is in the future!

And I was even pleased with the sky effect...the clouds look wonderfully stormy

So, what do you think?  Should I pursue this technique a bit more or go back to the white paper?  I don't have much of an option until I get to the art store, but it's good to know that there are other options in the meantime!

Related Articles
Buying Art Supplies in Europe - My adventures in supplies hunting for the first time in Europe
Female Figure Art - My last post about watercolors shows my new love of nudes
Watercolor Lessons - I don't always like each part of a painting (like the birds above), but there is always something to learn from!

Monday, December 20, 2010

leuvense kerstmarkt

Most of the decent sized towns in Belgium have a Christmas market in their city center some time during December.  The town we live in, Leuven, has had their market going for about a week and a half and we thoroughly enjoyed it!  

If you are not familiar with a European Christmas market, let me explain.  They take a big open area outside, put up lots of tents or booths for people to sell wonderful things, make delicious food to eat on the go and warm you up, and decorate to be more festive than you can imagine!  

We really wanted to buy some special items from the market while we were here and I thought I would share our treasures with you.  They are all handmade and super it fits :)

These first two items are wooden toys made by a gentleman from Belgium.  He was making them while sitting in his booth, so we knew it was legitimate!  

We don't have children...but I was planning ahead, I guess.

Don't you just want to eat him, he's so cute!

My father-in-law sells John Deere equipment, so we thought it was appropriate

Plus that little farmer is adorable, and a red head just like my husband

While the toys are adorable and lovely, our real treasure is this beautiful ceramic building.  It is modeled after a building in Leuven, but mimics the general style famous in the city.  

Don't mind the cowbell...just a random thrift store find

Look at the detail of the brick!  Impressive.

I believe it is a souvenir we will treasure for a long time

To show you how accurate it is, here is a photo of the building we actually live in.  That blue door is how we get to our apartment.

We are soaking in all the Belgium we can because, believe it or not, we are about to move again!  January 4th we are off to Nijmegen, The Netherlands.  Can you believe it?!

Related Articles
Moving On - Learn what I am doing in Europe and where I will go next
Leuven this is Bethany; Bethany, Leuven - I can't believe we are already moving...feels like yesterday that I wrote this introduction to Belgium!
Louvain, Louvain - A video of the Belgian neighborhood I live in

Friday, December 17, 2010

my favorite nana

I just remembered a fantastic grandma related story that happened this summer.  I just have to take a moment to share it with you, but first I want to introduce you to two great blogs.  Why?  Because on Wednesday they both talked about me!  

Blog No. 1  ---  Megan from Studio M.M.E Blog was generous enough to do a feature of my blog on her blog.  Blog buddies!  She interviewed me and did a great write up.  Show her some love by stopping by her blogShe is also an amazing artist!

Blog No. 2  ---  Ana from Toil & Trouble has been busy writing her thesis for her studies in architecture.  While she was away she asked me to write a guest blog post about a certain piece of architecture and relate it to an outfit I had worn.  Fun! 

Okay, onto that story...

I have an awesome grandma.  She's small and cute and funny and nice.  Everything a grandma should be.  Her name is Gloria Flowers, but we call her Nana, which are both awesome grandma names.  This summer, while I was living at home, I was showing her my collection of African themed art that is being sold to help aid the costs of my sister adopting a child from Ethiopia.  While looking them over she pointed at this painting:

And said, with all sincerity, "Is this one for me?"  I looked at her, slightly confused, and said, "Um...sure...why do you ask?"  She looked at me and simply explained that it says her name.  Well, her name to me anyway.  Do you see it?  If not, look at this one:

She honest to goodness thought I had spelled out the word NANA.  No thought at all that they were supposed to be African themed or that they might be zebra stripes.  I kind of wish I did mean to spell it out.  Maybe there will be a real NANA painting in the future!

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Hey World, When Did You Get So Small? - Running into someone you know when you are 6000 miles from home is always a good story

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

does sleep aid creativity?

**A little aside....if you still need great Christmas gifts, I've just started a sale at Dirksen Dabbles.  Use the discount code TISTHESEASON to receive 15% off any painting! This offer is valid through Saturday December 18th.**

Red Pandas
From a very young age...okay, okay from birth...I have slept a lot.  I slept through the night at a young age, I took long naps as a toddler, I went to bed at an embarrassingly early hour as a teenager, and never pulled an all-nighter in college. To this day, I can easily sleep for nine hours a night.

The people who get anywhere from 4-6 hours of sleep per night and still function astound me.  There was one semester of college where I was averaging around 6 1/2 to 7...and I literally was falling asleep in my classes every day. 

These sleepless people were making me think the other day about the relation of sleep to art.  In their state, yes, they can function, but can they create?  And if they can create with that level of sleep, can they create something better with more?

Intruders In The Dust
I honestly feel that sleep affects people in very different ways.  There are probably people who create better when sleep deprived.  But in general, I feel that fully rested adults are able to use their mental faculties better.  Creativity is one of the most difficult mental faculties because you are having to come up with new ideas. 

There is a wonderful article written about this subject at the new website I found titled Happenchance.  If you are interested in this subject I would highly recommend popping over there and reading more.  It even goes into the creativity during sleep (dreams) and the special cases of artists that create better without sleep.  

So...what about you?  Do you create better with more sleep, or less?

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Spoken Artwork - How To Be Alone - A great example of creativity

Monday, December 13, 2010


Photo Courtesy
If you have ever read the About Bethany section of this blog, you already know that I do not come from an art background.  At the age of 16 I decided that I would become an interior designer.  At the age of 18 I enrolled at an interior design and fashion program at George Fox University.  At age 22 I got a job as a design consultant with a furniture making company. 

For now, I am not professionally involved with interior design in any way.  I don't have a 'real' job and my business and blog center around visual art instead of interiors.  I feel like this is a shame, so decided to do something about it.

Photo Courtesy
And that is why I get to tell you about a special feature I am soon to start here at Dirksen Dabbles.  Visual art, interior design, and fashion are three very different fields within the realm of artistic creativity.  In a way, they are all partners.  I thought it would be very interesting to have a series in which the two fields of interior design and fashion are related to visual art. 

The way this will transpire is through guest posts.  I have asked several bloggers that specifically write about interior design and fashion to write articles for Dirksen Dabbles relating their field with art.  This can be an entire array of topics from a web of different viewpoints. 
Dirksen Dabbles

This series will begin within the next few weeks.  If you are an interior design or fashion blogger and are interested in writing a guest post, please contact me.  If you are not, but know of a good blog in one of these areas, let me know and I will contact them!

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Blog Carnival - Quality of Materials - Another fine example of what happens when other bloggers share information on my blog
Blog Carnival - Touching Art - What other artists feel about their work being touched 
A New Friend I Want You To Meet - A great example of me introducing you to someone new!

Friday, December 10, 2010

spousal inspiration

Have I mentioned that my husband is an intellectual?  He is.  He is currently in his 8th year of higher education.  And to be honest...there's no end in sight.  But so far his higher education has taken us very exciting places like Boston, Belgium, and soon The Netherlands and Italy.

So, what do intellectuals love more than anything?  Books!  And my husband is no exception.  This, for example, is a photo of when we were getting ready to pack up our last apartment.  You should know that this is only the "not pretty" books (there are many pretty ones) and they are all in categorized piles.

So in honor of my husband, I created this painting (it's of the pretty books):


I am a pretty big fan of how the gold/yellow paint made the books feel antique-like.  The colors also very much remind me of a gentlemen's library that you should go to drink cognac and smoke pipes while wearing cardigans...oh, and read, of course.  

This painting is titled Books, but it might be more appropriately named Ode to Husband.

Related Articles
Butterflies as Inspiration - See how a dead butterfly inspired my paintings
Artwork for Adoption - How one couple inspired me to paint an entire series of ten paintings
My Forever Love - Had to search through childhood photo albums to put this post together!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

written artwork - the scarlet letter

If you want a poetic, slightly tragic, but still heartwarming story...this might be the book for you.

This is actually the first book I read on my big list. I've waited to review it for reasons unknown to even myself. I believe it may be because the story is just right. It has unassuming brilliance that is hard to describe.

The elements I loved about this book include the setting of Boston (or Salem area) in Puritan times. I am fortunate enough to have lived in Boston for several years and, before reading this book, visited Salem, where Hawthorne lived and wrote (the photo is one we took while in Salem of Hawthorne himself). It was lovely to picture the places I knew in the olden times.

The idea of Puritan New England are almost never good. Over zealous people, witch hunts, judgment, and close mindedness are often what we think of most. The story of The Scarlet Letter involves some of these characteristics with the towns people, but it also shows them learning from the actions of an adulterer, which challenges the stereotype we have of Puritans.

I suppose all I can say is that The Scarlet Letter gets my recommendation. And my agreement that it is truly and American classic.

And as a little aside...I am currently reading War and Peace. Let's just say it is long enough to let me catch up on others I have finished, but haven't written about! Can't wait until I can review this one :)

A list of what's to come, and what has already been explored.

My Written Artwork Journey Explained here

  1. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  2. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Emma - Jane Austen
  4. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  5. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams
  6. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  7. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
  8. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
  9. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
  10. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
  11. Nineteen Eighty-four - George Orwell
  12. Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
  13. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
  14. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  15. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  16. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
  17. Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens
  18. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  19. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  20. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  21. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
  22. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  23. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
  24. The sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
  25. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
  26. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
  27. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  28. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
  29. Little Woman - Louisa Ma Alcott
  30. Crime and Punishment - Fedor Dostoyevsky
  31. Watership Down - Richard Adams
  32. Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
  33. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
  34. All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
  35. Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
  36. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
  37. The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane
  38. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
  39. Tales - Edgar Allan Poe
  40. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories - Nikolai Gogol
  41. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  42. A Farewell To Arms - Ernest Hemingway
  43. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

Monday, December 6, 2010

female figure art

When I took my one and only painting course in college, we ended up doing almost completely still lifes. These are fantastic for learning shape, depth, and dimension in painting, but they can get kind of old, kind of quick.

Towards the end of the course we finally had a live model come in so we could paint her. We weren't doing nudes, but it was a fun change of pace. Unfortunately, I took the easy way out and did her figure very small on a very large canvas (that way I didn't have to add very many intimidating details).

This was my one and only effort in figure art before two years ago, when I gave it another go on my own. This time without a model, and this time trying nude. I took an itty-bitty paint brush and did around a million baby 'x' strokes to make a soft look (this was before I had discovered the wonder of a palette knife). I found a photo, but embarrassingly enough, it is from my old bathroom, where I displayed this painting. My apologies.

I had a lot of fun with this piece and was pleasantly surprised at how successful my first real effort in nude painting was. There is something about the female figure that is so immensely beautiful, while also being astoundingly simple. With just a few strokes you can get the general idea.

Since I have been trying to learn new techniques with my efforts in watercolors, I decided to give figure painting another go a few weeks ago. Again, with no model or photos to work from, and a medium I am uncomfortable with...I was intimidated. Fortunately, I think things went pretty well!

I love the mixture of dark, saturated colors with lighter in this one

Especially the dark blue

This one is probably my favorite because the shapes seem correct and proportioned

I also love the yellow, brown, and mauve color tones

The paint strokes give it interest, while still leaving the entire piece simple

I went a little crazy with this one

I especially like how you almost can't see the figure

It is also pretty different from all the others, which is always good for learning

And finally, this one is so soft and gentle

I am kind of in love with how the hair turned out

And I like how the arms and legs aren't completed, but give you the idea of the full form

I would love to know what you think of these new pieces. I definitely think this is a style I am going to continue to work with, so would love any ideas you may have to keep going in it or how to tweek it.

Related Articles
Watercolor Lessons - See how I'm learning as I go
Drawing Glass - How I tried to master a new technique with drawing
Watercolor Beginner - My first efforts in watercolors...some good, some not so good