This was commissioned from the Netherlands, but I was in Dallas so had to make do with photo’s. If at all possible I prefer to makes sketches from life. But I will take commissions using photographs.

And the internet makes it easy to send photos, make sketches and share them, and discuss the final painting.

The style was to be somewhat 18th century, a real state portrait! I used oils on marouflé, painting board, covered with Belgian portrait linen, this makes for a very stable panel, of very fine quality.

The final pencil sketch:


The painting in progress


The finished painting!



I am going to have a plot in our community garden! I am very excited, it is however, literally the size of a postage stamp. So when I saw the title of this book I had to read it! Also, the subtitle is: ”Grow tons of organic vegetables in tiny spaces and containers. Magic words, and this book delivers. I know this because it has been tried and tested since 1975. For this book is the reprint of a classic bestseller, updated for the modern gardener. The author, Karen Newcomb, has also included information on heirloom vegetables, which is great because I want to grow some!

Content: The book is very comprehensive. It gives you an enormous amount of information in a very condensed form, The most novice of beginners can find everything she needs and the experienced gardeners will find stuff they didn’t know before. I am sort of a medium I think, and I learned quite a few things reading the book.

Information is easily accessible, layout, choosing what you will actually eat, what to plant where and when, making sketches of the layout of your future garden, and what I like best: dream about your garden!
I certainly am!

There is a list of suitable and fairly suitable vegetables, herbs and flowers with information on planting, problems and harvesting, very handy to have that all together.
Another subject I am very interested in and which is covered is companion planting.
Some useful information on composting and organic pestcontrol make this a very comprehensive gardening book.

garden book

You can see from the beautiful cover how attractive a vegetable garden can look.

Production: The one gripe I have is the cover. While a nice full color design and a pleasant matte cardboard, I think it is too thin, making the book feel cheap, and also making me worried about how well it will stand up to use. This is after all a reference book, and I am sure I will reference it a lot.

The paper inside is a very nice cream, it is printed in two colors, brown and green, which is very pleasant to the eyes. I love books printed in brown. The printing is very crisp. The book has a beautiful look and is easy to read.

Disclaimer: This book was offered to me for free by Blogging for Books in exchange for a review, The views in this review however are entirely my own, I really like it and if I didn’t you would know why and the book would be on it’s way to the compost heap. Sustainable gardening you know….

Read about:
the publisher
the author

At The Dallas Aquarium or why you should stop playing with your smartphone and pay attention

At The Dallas Aquarium
or why you should stop playing with your smartphone and pay attention

So this is the real thing, I brought a HUGE canvas, it’s 2 meter by 1,5 meter. That’s 80” by 60” in inches.

I usually start of with a grisaille base painting.

At the Dallas Aquarium sketch

At the Dallas Aquarium sketch

For lack of an easel, (my stuff had not arrived yet) I hung the painting on the wall. Not ideal, but it worked. I had different sizes of steps to reach different parts of the canvas. Luckily I didn’t fall off any of them, although there have been some close calls! Unlike the water color sketch I now started out with working on the Water world. This is because oil paint is a different medium,  so requires a different approach. I really wanted the colors to stand out, and of course the foreground had to stand out really crisp and sharp so had to be finished last.


So here it is: the finished painting. it’s official title is:

At the Dallas Aquarium

Or why you should stop playing with your smartphone and pay attention

1-aMy stepdaughter and her daughter gazing at the underwater miracles.

I really love this painting. It was a lot of work and took a lot of time. But I think the monumental size works very well for the subject, And the subject… only very rarely does one get such a special vision, something so unique. it really happens only every ten years maybe.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

A long title for a brilliant book!

So: the super excellent life-changing magic of tidying up… Here’s the gist, the writer, Marie Kondo, is a professional organizer, who goes around Japan to help people get rid of clutter and organize what’s left of it. If you think all Japanese are all minimal and zen, think again! They are just as messy as the rest of us. And they have even less space. That is, until Marie has visited. She doesn’t sell storage solutions, she wants you to have so little you don’t need storage solutions.

Marie is Shinto and so thanks all her stuff when using it, after using it and when throwing it out. I thought it was brilliant. I am not a Shinto animist, but I am ”barking mad”, and one reason I cannot get rid of stuff is that I feel sorry for the stuff that gets discarded. Marie has a different take, on storing and keeping stuff.
Two examples:

  • Gifts: their purpose is to be gifted, to be received and to bring pleasure. Once that has been accomplished they are ready to move on. Which immediately negates the guilt you would otherwise feel in getting rid of a gift.
  • Clothes: their purpose is to make you comfortable and look good, if they get old you thank them and let them move on. If they were a mistake and did not make you look good you thank them for teaching you what doesn’t suit you and you let them go

The key is: ”Does this give you joy”. And this works for all kinds of stuff, and papers, and books and mementos. You start from easy to difficult, I did do the easiest category: my clothes. I piled them in a large heap and looked aghast at the enormous amount I actually had, and then I took everything in my hand to see if it brought me ”joy”. If not you can let it move on.

Because; things, clothes, stuff which are stored in dark places are not happy.
They are not fulfilling their purpose. And the fact that they are there, slowly mouldering away in darkness will weigh on your mind. Out of sight is not out of mind.

For me this is perfect. This is exactly how I feel about stuff, about storing stuff, and now I can suddenly let them go and feel really good about it. So I did phase one, my clothes. I happily got rid of half of my clothes, shoes, etc. Most of which I took to a secondhand store and actually got a little money for. Tiny little bit, but still…

The clothes pile

Looking aghast at the pile of clothes!

One excellent tool the book gave me is ”how to fold clothes”. Yes, the mind boggles and luckily there is You-tube where the writer actually demonstrates what she means.
And gosh! Does it work!!!! I now not only can fold beautifully, I actually enjoy folding my clothes! It used to be one of my biggest nightmares! But, within half an hour of watching the videos, I was brilliant at it! And it is a joy to open my drawers! All the clothes are there, clearly seen and easily chosen. You also stand all the folded clothes on one end, so you don’t stack, so when you open a drawer you see the top of every shirt.
You see, clothes don’t like to be crumpled, or squashed at the bottom of the pile. So the extra benefit is that all my clothes are now very happy too!

Happiness brought to you by an organized closet

Happiness brought to you by an organized closet

A problem area I foresee is the stuff I need for my work and projects. However, all that stuff can at least get better organized.

The next phase, the second easiest, should be books, but for me books are very emotional, and sort of holy, so they will have to be one of the last projects I tackle. But the magic of tidying up is working already… I come across books which I didn’t want to get rid off, which I have been lugging around for decades, and suddenly I realize, ”This particular book brings me no joy…. It can go!”

I suppose I will have to update and write more posts as I move on to the next phases. The book says it takes half a year to get it all done, you are meant to do one project at a time, and per month I suppose. I will never be a minimalist, but I will be beautifully organized and my stuff will be happy and bring me joy.

Oh yes, I suppose it is clear that I really love this book and as long as it gives me joy it will remain on my bookshelves!

Look at this fun development of the color sketch!
The thing was to find out if I could get this juxtaposition of light right.
(See the black and white sketch here)

There are two worlds overlapping here. There is the world of water, where color is subdued into a greenish bluish palette, and everything is diffuse. And then there is the world of air with sharp contrast, also in the lighting, warm lamps and stark shadows.
Só fascinating!

A white piece of water color paper and the figures of the world of air.


The fish and rocks are sketched in,


The water world is colored in. I thought it worked.


Next installment will be the preparation and the base painting on the gigantic canvas!

So, over at Basenotes, the perfume forum I am a member of, today’s synch is about ”Your first ”investment perfume”…”

Balmain Perfume miss Aafke art painting

Hum, I don’t ”invest” in perfumes, I use them!
But I did ”invest” in a few extra bottle of Balmain de Balmain (by… guess who? Pierre Balmain) when I learned that this gorgeous perfume is going to be discontinued. I found a seller on Ebay with a very good deal too.
It’s sad though. All good perfumes are discontinued by now, and that’s because the ingredient which makes all my favorite scents, ”Oakmoss” has been banned ostensibly because somewhere, somebody, sometime, had a slight tiny bot of irritation when exposed to a dollop of the stuff. I think in reality it is because it’s an expensive ingredient and they want to move on to more synthetics. I base this opinion on the fact that alcohol, is far more irritating to a colossal larger amount of people, (I am one of them) and they’re not banning alcohol. The upshot is that all perfumes which used it have been reformulated by now and don’t smell as good.

Balmain used to make some of the best perfumes in history, My first perfume and enduring love, ”Miss Balmain”. the unique ”Jolie Madame”, the super green ”Vent Vert”, ”Ivoire”, and the quite late addition ”Balmain de Balmain”. One wonders how it is possible that Balmain formulated such a good intelligent perfume, (for intelligent strong women with taste) in an era when all new perfumes are pink, sugary, fruity/flowery, sickly sweet children’s candy scents. And of course it is discontinued now. One of the few scents I actually get compliments for!


So our RSPCA rescue Antar is now a flyball racing dog in training. We are part of an excellent team: No Big Woof Flyball. I never realized that Fly Ball is an extreme sport where you can incur some serious injuries, My new Fly Ball friends have shown me some horrendous effects of the following mistakes which will happen if you:

  • Hold the tug toy in front of you instead of as far as possible to the side
  • let your safety glove slide and the teeth pierce your hand anyway

So I decided to design a more safe outfit for our team.
Here it is :


A pencil is:

Stronger than the sword

Stronger than the guns

Stronger than the gods

Charlie Hebdo S

My latest project, The Dallas aquarium! We went to the Aquarium and I saw S and A and I was struck by the colors, the difference in light, the influence to the two different light sources, and the beauty of the image itself of course.

I wanted to capture this image, this light! So I made a sketch, then a watercolor sketch, and then I brought a humongous canvas to paint it on.

The sketch:


This painting is based on a statue in the British museum. It’s somewhere on a bottom shelf in the Oriental section. Everybody has seen these Tang dynasty horses of course, sometimes they have a rider, or an attendant, but I have never seen them embraced. This statue is missing a lot; legs, tail, part of the saddle, the figurine, what’s left is the torso neck and head of a horse, and the lower arms of somebody embracing it. A gesture of love that’s how it seems to me. Also because those hands so delicately touch the horse’s neck.

I want that statue.
But even I can understand I can’t have it. But I can paint it, and it is in part mine now :)

For Bill in return for his poem.

Aafke Art on YouTube

aafke at you tube




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