2019 106 Internet let us down today

Grrr, this is how I felt about internet today – a black hole with some light bulbs now and again. Oh well, it’s something we have to live with over here in Spain. We were really spoiled in the Netherlands with our fast internet.

Yesterday I read a newspaper story about how some PR lady was talking about Spain. The funniest thing was that she praised above all the existence of fiber optica and the coverage it had. ROFLOL.

2018.08.22 A successor in the family

The youngest loves to draw (yeah, finally a successor!). Sometimes he points out what he is drawing, but at most you can recognize it in the dimensions, not in the shape.

For example he says while he is drawing 4 lines next to each other: ” This is daddy, this is mummy, this is Diego, this is me”. And I must say, he has the proportions right.

Otherwise, it is just scratching. Which I love, because that’s a big inspiration for me.

So the above drawing is not made by Alex, but by me, taken one of his drawings as an example. I use it to experiment in Procreate, because that app has so many possibilities, that I haven’t figured everything out yet.

Do you like it?


2018.07.23 Enjoying myself

Last March we went to the Madrid Zoo with the whole family and saw beautiful mandrills there. They were behind glass and pacing up and down, so I could hardly make a good enough picture of them. I decided to draw one as soon as I had my drawing stuff out of the storage.

Well, that’s going to take another while. Finding a house turns out to be a little bit more time consuming than we had anticipated.

As you can imagine I am still really happy with the present I gave myself. I am getting more excited by the minute when I draw in Procreate. Now I don’t miss my ‘analog’ drawing stuff any more. 🙂

A nice feature of Procreate is that it can make a video of the process. You can see it on YouTube. The up and down movement in some parts is not always an erasing, but can also be a turning on and off of a layer. Which is another great part in the app. The layers. For me it is very similar to working in Photoshop (which I have known since 1992) hence my very steep learning curve for the app!

Do you like to draw as well?


2018.07.18 Is this Tom?

I gave myself a present last weekend: a new iPad and a stylus pen (Thanks, Eduard, for the inspiration). And I bought a sketching app as well. Mind you, the app was wayyyy cheaper than either the iPad or the pen!

So now I am sketching on the iPad.

As a lot of people know I make loads of photos. I get inspired by all sort of forms, lights, subjects or colors. This time the shadow of Tom on the kitchen entrance was my source.

In the app Procreate I can import pictures as a layer and then draw in another layer. Piece of cake. 🙂
So this is the result of 2 of my passions: taking pictures and drawing.

Do you like the result?


2018.03.05 Being creative

At times I think it is never going to stop raining. It’s been raining for days in a row now. But this morning at 4 I heard the rooster again – a definite sign that there was no other noise!

Of course I am not sure if it is the same rooster I hear every time there is a kukeleku sound, but he or they are surely doing their best to wake everybody up – early mornings as well as during the day.

I have tried to find one, so I could make a picture to accompany this blog – no luck there. Well, since it was bad weather anyway, I have occupied myself those past days drawing and painting a rooster of my own!
Do you like it? Do you draw or paint as well?


32 tips to get ideas to spend your free time

Inspiration: 32 tips to get ideas to spend your free time

This is a random list of all kind of things I occasionally do. If you feel stuck or just don’t have a lot of ideas at the moment to do in your free time, then it’s great to follow one of the suggestions. Get inspired:

  1. Is there anything you did in your childhood and stopped doing?
    For example coloring with crayons. Or use a soft pencil to color the edge of a piece of paper (torn or cut) and then smear it with your finger on another piece of paper. Or scratch on paper with a soft pencil while there is a penny underneath.
  2. Check out the pictures on Instagram
    Get inspired by the many photos you can find on Instagram. You can search for keywords by the hash tags that most people use.
  3. Look at shop windows
    What is the current fashion look? What resources have been used to decorate the shop and make it attractive? What materials are hip?
  4. Visit archives
    If you are looking for inspiration for a product, you can look for archives in design museums. Are you interested in old texts or letters than archives of newspapers or city archives are a treat. I spent quite some time in a regional archive to discover my family tree.
  5. schouwburgVisit the theater
    What do the decor and costumes look like? What has been used dramatically to make an often performed play or opera attractive or modern?
  6. Leaf through magazines
    If they are old magazines, you can tear out photos and try to combine them with new images. Make a collage.
  7. Do something you do not dare to do
  8. Dream
    They say you can’t thrust dreams. But they can be such a great inspiration for new ideas.
  9. Take pictures using a theme
    Just make photos of trees for a month. Or photograph only round shapes. Also try to find scenes in just one color (monochrome).
  10. Check what the color of the fashion season is
    Look at the trends. What’s hot. What’s not.
  11. Go to the movie
    One of my best recommendations is Bon Dieu. I have laughed until my face was hurting. Hilarious.
  12. Imitate
    Imitating has a negative meaning in our society, but in the time of the guilds an apprentice had to imitate the master to learn the craft.
  13. ideeen opdoenLook into a dictionary
    Open it at a random page. Or search for a specific word and see what terms are mentioned in the explanation and then look up those as well.
  14. Look at advertisements
    Promotional photos and commercials Have to pinpoint an idea in an extremely short period of time. How do they get their message across?
  15. Look at Pinterest
  16. Watch the empty space
    One of the exercises in model- or stilllife drawingclass is to focus on the negative space instead of on the subject.
  17. Listen to music
  18. Make a poem
    Use rhyme in the ordinary way. Or you can write the letters of your name in separate lines and take them as the first letter of a sentence.
  19. Make lists
  20. Model
    Give your own twist to an imitation
  21. Take a hot shower
    The best ideas come when you are relaxed and no longer consciously thinking about a problem. Eureka!
  22. inspiratie opdoenDo not just open your eyes, but also your other senses
    Or close your eyes and listen carefully. Only use your hands to ‘view’ an object. (It’s such a pity most museums forbid touching the statues!)
  23. Write with your left hand if you are right-handed and vice versa
    You literally use another part of your brain when you discard your own automatisms.
  24. Cut stamps of potatoes
  25. Speak a foreign language
  26. Draw
    Droodle, mindmapping, sketching, but also draw what you see in front of you are great sources of inspiration.
  27. Make things up that can not be
    Einstein has been able to develop the theory of relativity because he imagined that he traveled through space on a lightbeam.
  28. Walk
    Walking in the town the buildings and the crowds inspire. In nature the trees and the quiet are the sources.
  29. Sing
  30. Find an exhibition
    There are so many great museums that I always have a shortage of time. (Do you have my tips for a museum visit yet?)
  31. Find an object and make a lot of pictures of it
    Change the point of view. Go far away for an overview and get closer by to the details. Lie on your stomach or stand on the stairs.
  32. Zoek etymologische betekenissen op
    Of wat ook een geweldige manier is om los te komen: zoek woorden op in een andere taal en bekijk overeenkomsten met klanken of woorden in onze eigen taal.
    Find etymological meanings
    Or look up words in another language and examine similarities to sounds or words.

What do you do to get an stream of ideas flowing? Let me know in the commentbox below.

Even grown ups can play on the beach

Inspiration: Even grown ups can play on the beach

Isn’t it a pity that we tend to forget how to play? Years ago my former colleagues and I went to a beach house once a year. We were all creative souls and we gave ourselves assignments to develop our creative skills even further. There I discovered again what fun it is to play on the beach.

The focus of the assignments was different each year. It could be flying objects or playing with the sand. Or we went beach combing and made 3D collages out of the junk we found. And sometimes we would just draw, because we all loved to do that as well.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. ~Pablo Picasso

What can you do on the beach?


I’ll give you some inspiration with a list and I hope you will add your tips in the comment box below. Because I am sure I forgot things. 🙂

  • build sandcastles
  • write in the sand with a sheel or a stick
  • go beach combing
  • take pictures of textures
  • draw what you see
  • go geo caching
  • record the sounds of the surf or the birds
  • invent water games
  • make sand sculptures
  • collect seashells
  • photograph the objects you see
  • make a message in a bottle

And yes, you can also sport, relax, read, swim and play beach volleyball. My objective here was to list activities which I think develop creativity. 🙂

Take lots and lots of pictures!

You might know I love taking pictures. Either with my DSLR camera or with my iPhone. I enjoy not just the moment itself, but also the sorting and criticizing afterward.

If you can’t draw after nature when you are actually there, because you master not yet the technique or because the weather conditions were not good, then a photograph is a handy tool.
Both taking pictures and drawing develop your sense of composition, color, and creativity in general.

taking pictures of sand dunes
drawing zand dunes

Our play on the beach in images

It goes without saying that you don’t have to play on the beach alone! It is a great activity to do together with you (grand)children, as I know from experience.

An advantage of the year we went beachcombing was we cleaned the beach. We threw all the stuff we hadn’t used in the bins.

A fantasy animal one of my colleagues made.

candle holders
Have you heard of the Memphis group? They inspired us enormously in our work as graphic designers and during the beach combing trip.

3d collage
This was so funny: I took this collage home, but what I had not noticed in the open air on the beach, became very soon apparent in the house. It smelled like dead fish!

My color box fell accidentally out of my hands, giving me unexpected inspiration to look for lines and composition.

DIY framing in Photoshop

DIY framing in Photoshop

Make your own remarkable frame

diy framing in photoshopThere are tons of free frames available on the Internet. They’re fun to use. But wouldn’t it be great to make your own frame? If you have a photo program that works with layers, it’s not that hard.

I have made the frame in the accompanying picture with a bristle brush. I love the imperfection of a handmade drawing. Of course there are ways to make it digitally though you will probably need a drawing tablet to get a similar result.

I’ll explain step by step how you can make a frame like the one shown here. And I’ll also give alternatives, so you know how you can customize it to your own liking.

I use Adobe Photoshop, but Photoshop Elements or any other program that works in layers will do. Gimp and PaintShopPro seem to give good results, although I don’t know them myself. I am an Apple user by religion 🙂

What do you need?
A picture you want to level up

red tulips
Tulip fields in april in Holland

The picture can either be a really good one, so you want it to stand out extraordinarily. Or it can be a picture that isn’t very good, but that has others reasons to be handled with extra care. For instance, it’s a picture that resembles great memories and you want to combine several of those memories into one image.

A self-made frame
Try to think in layers on forehand

painted frames
Self-made frames, paint on paper that was spanned on plywood

Although I adore my computer I am from the age of paint and stained fingers. So I make my frames with real paint or ink as in this example. But in any photo program there are tools to make similar quadrangles and spots in a digital way.

The tricky part when painting
Wet paper crinkles easily

crinkled paper
Wetted paper will not dry flat

Paper that is not supported in any way will stay bubbled after getting wet and drying. You can easily prevent this by adhering the paper on the edges. (Have a look at this painting in Museum Insel Hombroich – talk about crumbled paper!)

The easy way
Which is of course more expensive

If you can afford it, you can buy a block of quality paper. It’s quite expensive but the color and the surface are really grand. Because the sides are pressed together it doesn’t matter that the paper gets wet: it will dry flat every single time. It’s for sale in any good art supply store.

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The difficult way

And more affordable with the same or even a better result

I use water-resistant plywood to span the paper. As you can see I pull the old layers of paper tape off and use the board several times.

  1. Gather the following: plywood board, paper tape, a sheet of paper, a sponge and a bowl of water
  2. Use a sheet of good quality paper and wet it with a non-marking sponge. The paper will swell. Make sure the paper is wetted evenly
  3. Let it rest for a couple of minutes
  4. Tear the paper tape to the desired length. Wet the pieces of paper tape and let them rest for a moment too
  5. Place the paper on the plywood and rub it gently from the center to the sides
  6. Paste one long side with a strip of tape
  7. Rub the paper again on the board until it’s more or less flat and adhere the opposite side. And then the two short sides
  8. Let it dry completely, before you paint on it

spanning paper
I use water-resistant plywood to span the paper. As you can see I pull the old layers of paper tape off and use the board several times.

Good preparation is half the job

Collect the right tools for the other half of the job

tools of the artist
Usually I’ll try both ink and paint with different kind of brushes, because they will give a varied texture

Once the paper is tight and flat in front of you, draw all kind of frames on it.
The paper will swell again of course, but because of the paper tape it will dry up nicely time and again.

Sometimes I draw rectangles in the ratio of the photographs I am going to use. Sometimes I draw freeform shapes. You can do whatever is to your liking. Just make sure that the contrast between the color of the paper and the color of the ink or paint is high enough.

From old-fashioned to new media

Scanning, choosing, masking

making a frame diy
For the intro picture I chose a painted, stripy blot.

I scan all the frames I have made and choose which one to use after that. The reason to scan also the frames that are not completely right is to be able to digitally copy and paste parts of them.

Open the scan in your editing program.

magic wand in photoshop
The magic wand in Photoshop or another photo program

I am a huge fan of Adobe Photoshop, but any other photo editing program if fine too.
By varying the value of the magic wand you can select as much of the smudge as you want.

magic wand photoshop

Layers make my life so much easier

framing in photoshop

Copy the selection and paste it in a new layer on your picture.

masking in prhotoshop
I made the mask yellow so you can see what I selected

Invert the selection and activate the layer with the picture. And throw away the selected part.

frame diy photoshop
The result

I added another layer that I made yellow, well, kind of yellow. The main reason being that it supports the explanation. Generally I would make that layer white to make the spot stand out more.


My article about a selfmade card is also about layers in Photoshop.