Medieval Treasures and Night Watch Crowds – Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

It would be hard- though not impossible- to be in  Amsterdam and not visit one of the many amazing museums located there. For me, the struggle was real when it came to deciding between museums like the Ann Frank House, The Van Gogh Museum, and even the rather esoteric Museum of Bags and Purses. Thankfully this heartbreaker of a decision is something tour guides are well aware of and during the morning walking tour I took the guide our group had helpfully suggested that if you were pressed for time and you really could only visit one museum, the best choice would be the Rijksmuseum.

Reasons why this would be your best bet? It’s the largest art museum in the country (and one of the most visited), has a total collection of 1 million objects that span the years 1200 to 2000 – 8000 of which are on display to the public- and it even has three paintings by Van Gogh so that you won’t completely miss out on the experience of seeing one of his paintings here even if you can’t make it to the Van Gogh museum. The museums collection is focused on arts, crafts and history- which made it all that more fantastic for me because while I like art museums, wandering hall after hall of paintings can lose it’s appeal for me after a while. That being said, plunk me down among armoire, cabinets, tapestries and other objects with historical context, add in piles of documents/bank notes and throw in some letters and you’ve got my attention for probably an eternity. That stuff is like cat nip to me and this museum not only had it in spades but its also one of the most beautiful buildings i’ve ever been in.

Almost inadvertently, I started out in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (1100-1600) section, on the ground floor 0 and spent a really peaceful hour slowly perusing the objects on display at my leisure. As you can probably tell from the photos, very few people lingered in this section- though to be fair,  few areas of the museum were really crowded, probably because it was around 1pm on a weekday when I visited. Not really having much of an idea of where I wanted to go next I decided to skip the first floor for the time being and head to the second floor, where the much lauded Night Watch is located.

I found the crowds here in the Gallery of Honor and more specifically in the Night Watch Gallery . I won’t say the Night Watch isn’t spectacular to behold in person, but it’s a bit like the Grand Canyon in the sense that no matter how magnificent it is in person, it’s been well and truly hyped up to an almost dizzying degree so that it can’t quite match up to what you have pictured in your head. The presentation though, thats unexpected and truly breathtaking.

An inside joke for friends- of course I love any depiction of Caesar getting stabbed as the final assignment in the worlds worst/best group project

I eventually finished up in this part of the museum, took a quick break on one of the many cushy benches scattered around and made my way to the 17th Century hall, passing through theThe Great Hall which I didn’t take any photos of, because honestly only video can really do justice to how amazing that hall is. Hopefully I can get around to putting together a video compilation of the trip that will include that clip but for now, just take my word on it, it’s unexpected and just that close to heavenly.

~m

Joshua Tree Sketches, Postcards and Travel Plans- Frisco, TX



First up- Travel Plans!

I’ve been a bit hush-hush about this since the end of March when I bought my plane ticket, partly because I had no idea where I was going and partly because I didn’t want to utterly jinx anything. But with less than a month left before wheels up and an actual workable itinerary on hand, I think it’s probably time to share the plans.

So back at the end of the last roadtrip taken to have adventures in Colorado , while we were waiting for the snow to stop falling enough to be able to actually leave CO and head home, a price alert came up on flights to Paris. And I remember sitting there on the couch in the living room of the cozy cabin we were staying at and deciding after two minuets of solid thinking, yes, i’m buying it. Did I particularly want to go to Paris? Not really, but I have a good friend there and Paris is an excellent gateway to the rest of Europe so that settled it for me and the ticket was snapped up.

Fast forward a good few months later and it’s July and I still didn’t have a single clue where I was actually going to go, never mind the fact that I had yet to apply for my Passport (I did have an expired one …but it was from when I was a minor and not valid for renewal, though it was valid to use a second ID somehow). And so last month consisted of me getting that ever so important task taken care of- shout out to that lovely lady at the passport office who waived the fee for my photo and who I believe is responsible for the near miraculous turn around time (considering I didn’t pay for expedited service)- and also figuring out my itinerary.

Two weeks was the allotted time I had to work with, and while I know plenty of people would choose to pick just one country and spend the whole time there, i’m that kind of person that loves to just exhaust myself trying to see as much as possible. With that being said, I did hold myself back from going too country-hopping happy.

The itinerary, as it is now (and trust me I wish I could say i’m 100% sure it’s not going to change anymore) is as follows:  leaving Dallas —> literally almost a full day of traveling –> Edinburgh, Scotland–> Amsterdam, The Netherlands–> Salzburg, Austria–> Bavaria, Germany —> Paris, France –> home to Dallas

More as to my actual plans in these places next month when I actually sit down and think through that part more, but at least for now, i’m glad to actually see the full scale of my travel ambitions written out and so close to coming true. This will by first time in Europe and to say i’ve dreamed of doing this for almost 10 years is only just a slight exaggeration.

Apart from setting down those plans, I finished up the Joshua Tree sketches I had mentioned wanting to do and also sent a bunch of postcards to a new penpal in Poland, as well as a couple to one in Germany that i’d really love to fill with enough wanderlust as to make her visit the USA for a roadtrip one day. It’s been a good end to the month and hopefully September brings more creativity, less storms and maybe some more interesting people to send postcards/snailmail to.

~m

p.s If you’ve been to any of the cities/places I mentioned above, feel free to leave me suggestions of places I should see in the comments, i’m very much still at odds as to what exactly i’m going to try and see or visit so it’ll be appreciated :)

 

A Dream of Canyonlands- Finished (Finally, dear gods)

Truth be told, i’ve had this finished for almost a month now…i’ve been just been procrastinating on actually posting about it. Why? That lovely thing that is artistic conceit that gets you thinking that if you just keep tweaking at it and adding just-one-more-thing, it’ll be perfect.

Thankfully work, life in general and planning for my upcoming trip to Europe (more on that soon) has kept me from turning the finished piece into a messy jumble trying to achieve unknowable perfection. I’m actually…pleased, with the way this turned out. When I first started it, i’d never done a landscape drawing that wasn’t just mountains, mountains and more mountains but I was so enamored by the landscape of Canyonlands NP that I knew I just had to try my hand at it.  It started with the rough sketch of graphite, then entered the inking stage I love so much and thats where I paused because I didn’t know if I dared to dip into color, and if I did dare, what route should I take? Bold reds and oranges, what you would expect of this Utah landscape? Muted browns and greens for a more traditional feel? Those all sounded like good ideas but they weren’t me, and after I had done color sketch after color sketch, I finally found myself at the completely other end of the spectrum I had started on, holding purples, blues and pinks in additional to the predictable browns.

I’ve already started sketching out some ideas for the next project, either an Arches NP one or a Joshua Tree one (i‘ll post those a little later) but for now, i’m happy with the way this one turned out and I like that every time I look over at it i’m reminded of the way I felt when I first saw this park- like I was on another planet, a whole otherworldly experience of pure wonder.

~m

Procrastination Arches- WIP Wednesday

In between my day job, reading up on the German State of Bavaria for future travel plans and spending too much money on magazines that I don’t need (MARK is severely under appreciated I think) i’ve also been procrastinating when it comes to art projects. Inspired by my trip last October to Arches NP these quick sketches took the time I should have spent on finishing the Canyonlands projects I blogged about last week.

I haven’t quite decided on which of these will be the next stand alone piece I work on- knowing myself i’ll probably draw up a couple more sketches before I decide, but it was fun to get a feel for what I might do. Color palette is still up for grabs but I think I might stick with a more traditional feel this time around…maybe.

~m

Art Journal Monday- When the Road Gives You Lemons

” … you take them with you and don’t let them hold you back for long.” 

I’ll be going on a roadtrip this coming weekend, though I guess compared to my last one, it could hardly be called one. This time we’re headed up to Colorado only, instead of the last coalition of states and national parks that eventually ended with my Jeep a little worse for the wear. It’s doing just fine now of course, though I can’t help but think it’s probably heaving a giant sigh of relief this weeklong vacation will actually be closer to an actual “vacation” than the last adventure.

Or at least thats what i’m saying now.

Apart from a vague list of places i’d like to see and explore in and around the Denver area and a loose handful elsewhere (Trinidad, Great Sand Dunes, Garden of the Gods) , there’s really no set plans for this trip. Which is both par for the course when it comes to me and also terrifying when I think I could end up wasting a week in beautiful Colorado if I don’t plan things out to the last second. Life has a funny way of always messing with my plans though, so maybe for once not having any real ones will be to my benefit.

Either way- wish me luck, good light, halfway decent weather and an abundance of coffee to keep me going.

~m