zondag 22 december 2013

Your help please

I am writing new texts for my website. First I wrote it all in Dutch. Now I am translating into English (UK). Please read them. Give your comments so I can make them better, before they appear in my website.

Here is the first part.

A portrait, because …
... your baby grows so fast, becomes a toddler, soon a teenager!
I put the phase in life down in a portrait and you will enjoy forever!

... your parents have their fiftieth wedding anniversary only once in their lives. A portrait of them together is a great gift!
I can use their wedding photo, or more recent pictures as my reference.

... you lost a beloved one (human or animal) in death. You miss him/her every day. You don’t want to forget him/her.
With my portraits for ‘in memoriam’ the bereavement will feel a little softer.

... you want to present yourself in a professional way. You want a portrait that shows who you really are.
I paint portraits you really want to show in your company.

... there is so much you value. A place of nice memories. A special event. Something you love to see. You name it.
If there are photos of it, I can use them for a drawing or painting. Otherwise I find or make photos and use my imagination.

... an ordinary snapshot doesn’t have the impact of a drawing or painting. Using them to make a drawing or painting with the help of your photos I make souvenirs of lasting value.

About me ...

 In my childhood my parents stimulated my creativity. They also taught me to love nature.
I did my best to choose a school that would help me use my creativity in my life. My choice was a school for becoming a teacher in drawing and textile arts. But I found it wasn’t the right choice. ‘In front of the class’ was not my kind of place. After two years I left the school. But I was glad I learned a lot about many different techniques.
I married and had children. My creativity was limited to a ‘hobby’. It was in my second marriage I discovered it could be more than that. My new husband, Carlos, promoted me as an ‘artist’ for his friends and family. I started painting portraits, as gifts.
Would I be able to become a professional artist? That question appeared and reappeared in my thoughts. I started making paintings I wanted to sell. I had booths at local art-fairs. On the internet I did what I could to ‘become known’.
In 2013 I saw there was a market for my art. At exhibitions my watercolours were sold. I had some commissions. I was even asked to illustrated a children’s book! The office-job I had to earn my money felt like it took too much of my precious time. I was happy to hear the company wanted to ‘shrink’ and I could stop there when my contract would end. I registered at the Chamber of Commerce for ‘the big step forward’.  

To illustrate it here is a portrait paintings I made recently. 

zondag 24 november 2013

November 2013

A Sketching Challenge

The Facebook community 'Sketching Workshop' organised a challenge for this month. We (some of the members) try to make 50 sketches this month. We put the sketches in an album at 'SW AgSketchMo'. There are 30 sketches in my album now. I saw there is someone who already has 50! Her name is Barbara Moore.

If you are on Facebook, you can have a look there. But I'll show some of my sketches of this month here.

cactus flower, sketch in soft pencil
an old lady in the train, quick sketch in soft pencil 
kaki / sharon / persimon fruit, sketch in four-coloured BIC ballpoint
 aloe vera plant, quick sketch in soft pencil
 plane tree leaves, sketch in soft pencil (blended with finger)
 plane tree, sketch in ink and coloured pencil on a brown paper bag
my booties, sketch in soft pencil (blended with finger)

zaterdag 2 november 2013


I think the following time you will see some changes happening to my blog here. I am experimenting with backgrounds (using photos or paintings I made myself) and lay-out. It will take some time untill I will have found a 'final' look (if ever ...).

Another experiment is my 'webshop'. I follow a tutorial by Rose Schuring 'Grow your art business online'. After her explanation on the importance of having a webshop, I started mine, with three watercolour sketches in it. Maybe soon there will be more. You can find it HERE, but sorry it is in Dutch, with Dutch paying services. If you are interested to buy one of my works, and you're not in the Netherlands, please contact me by e-mail: i-m-leonora@hotmail.com .

One of the watercolour sketches for sale is 'Oak leaves', you see here:  

zondag 22 september 2013

sketching daily

Maybe there is a thing called ‘talent’. But sure the most important thing is PRACTICE. Practice does not make perfect (as ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist in this world). Practice helps you develop your skills. That is why I practice drawing as often as possible. I do my best to make one sketch every day.

I make small sketches of ordinary things I see every day. I folded a large (A3) paper in 12 squares. They are each about 10x10 cm. I make a sketch in every square. Sometimes I use two squares for one sketch. Here you see such a paper with sketches.

When the weather is good, I sketch outdoors. Weeds in my garden are a great subject.

Also indoors I can find nice subjects. Like the dishes I washed ...

... or the towel.

Sometimes I even dare to sketch a living animal. Soon you’ll read more one that. Here is a preview.

I will do my best to show you some of my sketches more often in my blog. Some will be under 'More art', some (together  about a certain subject) in a new post.

zondag 4 augustus 2013


You can see things with your eyes. But you can see too with ‘your mind’s eyes’: your imagination. It’s even possible to draw (or paint) things you see in your imagination. I have different ways to make such drawings. About two of those I tell you this time.

The first way. I want to tell a story in a picture. In this case the story is about an animal. It’s a real, existing animal. But I want to show something about the animal that can’t be seen in a photograph.

The first drawing is about a kitten, ‘Poekie’. I made it as an illustration for a children’s story (a product of my imagination too). Poekie is all alone, a little lost, in a dark alley. I want to show its loneliness. I want to show it’s a cute, little kitten. I want to show Poekie is not scared. It’s a courageous little kitten!

To be able to show all of this, it wasn’t enough to take a photograph of a kitten and draw it just like that. I took some photographs of kittens, to see what kittens looks like, in general. But then I used my imagination, to change some things, to add some things. Its shape became rounder, its eyes bigger, its black fur more reddish; so I enhanced its ‘cuteness’. Its pose and the look in its eyes tell you: this is a courageous kitten. And the background shows: Poekie is all alone in a dark alley. 
 Poekie, drawing in coloured pencils

The second drawing was also made using photos. In a magazine about wildlife I saw some photos of the elusive ‘red panda’. In this case I did not change much to the ‘red panda’. I only wanted to show it’s a very cute and fuzzy looking animal. So I changed a little to its eyes and mouth and its fur. And I fitted its shape (pose) to my paper.

 Red panda, drawing in coloured pencils on Kraft paper

The second way. This is ‘totally imagination’. Maybe you can call it a ‘doodle’. I took my paper and a ballpoint and started, with no idea of what to draw.

My first thought was: a person. I started drawing an oval shape for the head. It was at the left side of the middle of the page. I thought: “there’s space for another person, right of the middle”. So I made another oval head shape next to it. Then in my imagination came the idea of two sisters, standing close together. I made some lines to show the position of their bodies. It looked to me as if they were singing whole heartedly. I made lines showing they each had one arm spreading out. And so the whole picture developed while I was drawing it. When a shape became clearer to my mind, I made it look clearer in my drawing. I added curves and shades. So I went on until it looked good to me. Now I present to you: the ‘Singing sisters’. 

Singing sisters, drawing in black Bic ballpoint               

vrijdag 28 juni 2013

I didn't have to go far ...

... to paint 'plein air'. In fact: I stayed in my own garden. There is always something to paint or draw there. Even in bad weather: looking through the window (I don't know if that is real 'plein air'...).

(view through the window of my living room)
Sitting in a lounge chair in the garden I looked up and painted the blue sky with white cloud, above my garden gate with red roses.

When the chives were in full bloom I couldn't use them anymore for salads, but they were very nice for a drawing and a painting.

(drawing in ballpoint on GarzaPapel drawing paper)
(hypericum, digitalis and allium -chives- in watercolours)
This was the garden in front of the house, In the back there is another one. I can do a view through the window too, in this case the kitchen window.
I cut some branches from the honeysuckle growing over the gate and made this painting of one of the blooms.
(made on GarzaPapel watercolour paper)

zaterdag 1 juni 2013

‘Plein Air’ in Meppel

I live in Meppel. It’s a small town in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It’s small, but has everything a town needs. It has canals with interesting bridges, and old houses alongside. No, not  like Amsterdam. It’s a lot smaller, small canals and small old houses, but they are picturesque!


watercolour sketch ‘Tipbrug’

Meppel is not too busy. You can sit on your tripod at one side of the canal to sketch the bridge and the houses on the other side. You can put your easel in the middle of the main street and paint whatever you like there. Of course you can do your shopping in that street too. Fashion, shoes, bags, books, postcards to send to your friends at home, a map of the region to find your way, it’s all there. Not to forget the artist’s materials shop Van Daalen at the canal (also for matting and framing).


watercolour sketch ‘In the park’

When you want to see something else, you get out of town and in some minutes you are in the green landscape. At every side of Meppel the landscape is different. To the north there is sandy soil with woods and heather. That is where the world famous ‘hunebedden’ (pre-historical graves with large stones) are. To the west the soil is wet, there are marshes and lakes. To the east is the beautiful valley of the Reest ( a very small river, meandering through a slightly hilly landscape). To the south is the village of Staphorst, with its typical farmhouses and some people still wearing traditional costumes. When I take my bicycle, I can ride through all these different landscapes.

I decided to do that. Not only to ride my bike, but also make ‘plein air’ watercolour paintings of these landscapes. Alas, there was a problem: the rain. I had to wait for a day without rain. That’s the reason why you did not read this article earlier …


watercolour ‘North of Meppel’


zaterdag 11 mei 2013

Spring in Drenthe

Spring is really there. As normal in Dutch spring, there are days of rain. But there are sunny days too. And, above all, there is green. Leaves appear like green fingers from the ground. Green buds sprout from every tree. Not only green buds, also blossoms. Some trees look like pink clouds. Others have tiny white or yellow flowers all over.
There was too much! I wanted to paint it all, but there I didn't have time. I had some opportunities for making small watercolour sketches (see on this page). Also I made some photos (see page Inspiring photos).
first sign of spring: wild hyacints
in the spring sun you see all dust, so 'spring cleaning' is needed
some trees still bare, but spring is in the air
serious spring: blackbird singing near the pink magnolia
cherry blossom in full bloom

maandag 29 april 2013

Watercolour paint from Australia

 Some days before I went to Curaçao, I received  a ‘Georgia Mansur palette’. That’s a free sample of ‘Daniel Smith extra fine watercolor’, in a range of colours chosen by Georgia Mansur, (well-known for her Plein Air workshops). It has sixteen dots of real watercolour. You only have to wet them with your brush and paint.

photo: Georgia Mansur palette

I took it with me, to try it at Curaçao. I found a subject to paint: a ‘special tree’ in the neighbourhood. I went to sit in the tree’s own shadow. First I made a sketch in charcoal. Then I started painting. The palette is just right for trees! There are various browns and greys. With the blues and yellows and the ‘phthalo turquoise’ (which looks like peacock green) I mixed greens.

This tree had my attention because of its special shape. It looked like a statue, with different human-like shapes entangled. I wanted this shape to come out by using different shades of brown. I managed to do this by mixing part of it with ‘quinacridone gold’ and others with ‘sugilite genuine’. The gold is very strong and warm, while the sugilite is a cool lilac-purple.

photo: watercolour painting ‘special tree, Santa Maria, Curaçao’

I was surprised of the small quantity of paint I needed. When this painting was finished, the tiny dots of paint weren’t all gone. Even some of the ‘quinacridone gold’ was left. Some days later I made one more painting with the palette.
photo: watercolour painting ‘Emmastad, Curaçao’

And then there was still some paint left. I used it to enhance the effect of some parts of other paintings. The ‘gold’ made yellow walls ‘sparkling’, and the ‘turquoise’ added depth to the green leaves of trees. The dark colours, ‘piemontite genuine’, sodalite genuine’ and ‘bloodstone genuine’, all produced of real minerals, make lively shadows.

When I returned from my trip, I mailed Georgia Mansur to tell her about my experiences with the palette. I asked her too if I could receive some more, and promised to write about it in my blog (this blog). She liked it and sent me some more palettes.

I wanted to use these palettes to make ‘plein air’ watercolour paintings in my own surroundings. But the Dutch weather isn’t reliable. March and the start of April were extremely cold. I don’t like sitting outdoors in the freezing cold.

One of my new friends from Curaçao asked me to make a watercolour painting for her (with help of the photos I made there). I decided to use one of the palettes. I knew the ‘cobalt blue’ and the ‘french ultramarine’, together with the ‘quinacridone gold’ and the ‘phthalo turquoise’ were just what I needed for her balcony. And the ‘sugilite’ and other ‘genuines’ would make wonderful shadows.  Even though I was sitting indoors, in the Netherlands, with only some photos of the colourful balcony, with these colours the painting got the ‘plein air look’.

photo: watercolour painting ‘balcony landhuis Plantersrust, Curaçao’

Now I still have parts of the palettes left. I hope spring will come soon ... and then I’ll write about it.

zondag 17 maart 2013

Plein Air Curaçao 2013

Curaçao (or Korsou) is a Caribbean island.  It is perfect for ‘plein air’ painting. Temperature is nice, with some wind, so it’s not too hot. Most of the time it’s sunny and dry. The size is just right (you can drive a car from one side to the other, make a painting and return, all in one day). There are many inspiring subjects, such as:

- the Caribbean sea, with a rough rocky coast in the North and wonderful bays and beaches in the South;

- Willemstad, the main town, with old colonial houses, painted in bright colours;

- a varied natural environment, with rocks, plains, hills, odd-shaped trees and cactuses, colourful flowers and birds, etc.

In 2011 the ‘art foundation’ of Curaçao organized the first ‘Plein Air Curaçao’. It was a success. So they decided to do it again. This second ‘Plein Air Curaçao’ took place in 2013, from February 22 to March 2. It was visited by artists from all over the world. I had the pleasure to be one of them.

After the official opening Friday evening, early Saturday morning we went to Westpunt (as the name says: the point in the West). I sat on a terrace (for some shade). I painted my view, with the lower beach, a blue apartment complex and the hills further away.

Photo: Westpunt in watercolours (bought by Hellen, president of the organizing foundation).

Sunday afternoon I went to Punda (the most busy part of Willemstad), to make a painting of the famous floating bridge in the afternoon light. Just before the sun went under, I had to leave. One of the artists, Heleen Cornet, had the opening of her exhibition at MonArt gallery.
Photo: Emmabrug, watercolours.

Tuesday was the day to paint in Otrobanda. That’s a part of the town with many picturesque old buildings and alleys. Most of the artists went to ‘Kura Hulanda’, which is totally renovated and now a hotel. But I went ‘downtown’ and painted some houses in a very narrow alley.
Photo: Alley in Otrobanda, watercolours.

In the afternoon we had a boat trip. We went to Boka Sami, a fishermen’s village at the South coast. First I painted the view to the land. And when the sun went down, I tried to paint the colours of the sunset.
Photo:  Boka Sami, view from the sea, watercolours.

Wednesday I went to Kokomo beach and made a painting there. This is one of the many beaches at the South coast of the island. My painting didn’t satisfy me, so I didn’t give it for the ‘Gallery’. At this Gallery all participating artist could bring in the paintings they made each day. It was at the Maritime Museum. So this was a ‘growing’ exhibition.
Photo: part of the Gallery of ‘Plein Air Curaçao’.

Thursday was a day of ‘free painting’. Someone told me she liked the building next to the Museum, called ‘Villa Maria’. I went to look, and indeed, it was a picturesque building. It was ‘pistache green’, with large marble stairs leading to the entrance. I could sit in the shade of a tree and paint its branches and leaves in the foreground. When I brought the painting to the Gallery it was sold immediately … but I forgot to make a photo of it! Sorry.

After painting Villa Maria, I went to the Avila Hotel. We were invited there for a Blues Night. I had all afternoon to make a painting of the hotel. And later I made some sketches of the musicians too.
Photo: Avila Hotel, watercolours.
Photo: guitarist, pen sketch.

Friday was the ‘cultural day’. We went to Landhuis Habaai, an old mansion, partly renovated. There is a gallery of modern art now (‘Alma Blou’). We had some traditional musical instruments, from the historical museum, as subjects to paint. First I made a painting of some instruments and then of a part of the building.
Photo: Landhuis Habaai, watercolours.

Saturday was the last day of ‘Plein Air Curaçao’. It was a morning of painting contests in Willemstad. There were different categories: kids, teens, beginners, local and international artists. We had three hours time to make our paintings. First we had to register and get a number. Then we could start painting, but we had to be back before noon. My plan was to make a painting of the ‘floating market’. This market is not really floating, it is alongside the water, but the boats bringing fruits and vegetables from Venezuela are right behind the market stands. It is a very colourful place.
Photo: floating market at Willemstad, watercolours.

I thought three hours were enough to make a painting. But this scene had so many details... I was back on time, but I knew I couldn’t win, my painting was too ‘illustrative’, not really a ‘work of art’.

The jury decided and all winners were applauded. And that was the end of a nice week of painting plein air. All international artists went to the Maritime Museum, to say goodbye (and take back our paintings, if they weren’t sold).

After this plein air week I stayed on the island for two more weeks (I was there with my husband, who is born and raised at Curaçao). I made some more sketches and paintings. I hope to be back there in 2015, for the next ‘Plein Air Curaçao’. For more information, see:

zondag 17 februari 2013

about what (and who) inspires me

First I want to thank
Cathy Johnson (http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.nl/2012/02/painting-on-spot.html?spref=fb ),
Serena Lewis (http://artbyserena.blogspot.nl/ ),
Brenda Swenson (http://www.brendaswenson.blogspot.nl/ ),
Larry D. Marshall (http://www.larrydmarshall.com/blog/)
and many others. Their blogs and their comments on Facebook helped me start my own weblog.

Above all I want to thank the Great Creator (http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/), who created all beauty in the Universe. His creation inspires me most.

God’s name and some of His creation, watercolour, 2012

‘Inspiration’ is a spiritual force. God’s spirit interacting with the human spirit. God inspired people to write the Bible. Artists are inspired by the beauty of nature (God’s creation) to create works of art.

Sometimes it’s directly. I see a beautiful flower, tree, person, landscape, sunset, etc. What I see inspires me to depict it. Sometimes I see something manmade, maybe not even beautiful. Anyway it inspires me to make a drawing or painting, to show the beauty of it.

Next time I’ll write on an inspiring trip to Curaçao.

plein air watercolour made at Curaçao, 2012