2018.11.21 Almost home

All things considered the journey is quite smoothly. No mist, no rain, no freezing roads.

And even the manifestation of the gilets jaunes had as advantage that we didn’t have to pay toll.
Time loss was about half an hour. All in all not too bad.

Especially since I am sooo happy to be on my way home. Holland is too cold for me nowadays. In more than one aspect.



This is a prison. Like most prisons it’s a special prison.

During the past twelve months my books were incarcerated here. They were convicted of having been unable to go to Spain by themselves.
A long interior investigation disclosed that they were innocent and had to be released immediately.

Today was the day of their liberation. When they heard my voice they joyfully started ruffling their pages. At least as far as the warden had given them some space.

If all goes well, they will arrive in Spain during next week. What will they be happy when one by one they will be replaced in good order by caring hands.
All’s well that ends well.


2018.11.19 Daily walk

One of the things I miss in Spain are the autumn colors of the leaves. The trees have either green leaves or no leaves.

Here in Holland this summer has been too dry and the changing of seasons was too abrupt, so the leaves are not as sparkling yellow as I was used to. But still I have enjoyed the different shades of brown and yellow very much today.


2018.08.31 El Mirador de Los Pepineros

And again all stuff has to be packed, because we’re moving. It’s at least the tenth’ time this year. Because we stayed at all kind of different places, we now feel like nomads.

This is not a reference to the motorclub but to the small tribes that cross the dessert. Or any other large desolate area. Although the areas where we lived, are not so desolate. Such as Holland and the Spanish provinces of Granada, Malaga and Murcia.

We also stayed in Madrid. Which is really desolate, but for a totally different reason. It is so crowded and puzzling and elusive that it makes you feel desolate.

If you want to share this feeling I invite you to walk with us to the main entrance of the stadium of Club Déportivo Leganés S.A.D.. I think it’s the highest point in Leganés. From there you have a magnificant view over the city of Madrid and even a substantial part of the province. You can see the planes going up and down from Barajas and the high rising office buildings from the new business center Quatro Torres and the Sierra de Guadarrama where during the winter the peaks are always white with snow.

Never mind the soccer players from CD Leganés are called Los Pepineros (The Cucumber Growers). There is no soccer club in Holland, or even in Spain probably, which has a more magnificant, albeit elusive, view. From today, because of it’s exceptional location, the look-out in front of the main entrance of the stadium of CD Leganés will be called El Mirador de Los Pepineros.


Dick Bruna’s Miffy

Review: Dick Bruna’s Miffy

A gift for an abroad living grandchild

dick bruna - nijntjeMy grandson is Spanish (and at the moment I write this he is 4 days old!). He is going to be raised bilingual. Spanish of course, since his mother is Spanish. And I thought his second language was going to be Dutch because of my Dutch son.

But his other language will be English. “How many people on the globe speak Dutch, Mum?” OK, I got it. It makes sense too, but still . . .

Yet I found the perfect solution. I gave my grandson a Dick Bruna book. It’s an alphabet dictionary, showing drawings with the English words and the Dutch translation underneath.

Originally Miffy is Nijntje.
Nijntje is short for Konijntje, which means Little Rabbit

Advice from more experienced grandmothers

A lot of my friends are grandma by now

first present for a newborn
Our first present for our first grandson

My friends all said the same thing: Buy the kid a Bruna book, it’s a big hit.
I am a graphic designer so I have known the work of Dick Bruna for a long time, professionally, but never looked at it as a potential gift for a grandson.

I love his style of illustrating. But it pleased me enormously to hear from my friends that little children love it too. And that is what counts, isn’t it.

Bruna’s drawings are always in four colors: the three primary ones, red, yellow and blue, and one secondary color, green.
The forms are always a variation on the square, triangle and circle. All in a very clear manner, with plain panes and thick black lines.

dick bruna miffy
Two pages of the English-Dutch Miffy dictionary

Nijntje is called Miffy in English
Nijntje is short for Konijntje, which means Little Rabbit.

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Bruna’s most famous character is Miffy – Nijntje in Dutch. He started drawing this figure when his own kids were small, being on holiday in the dunes of Holland.
The books are like Sesame Street. Meaning, they are very educational, but also very simple and appealing.
As I said, I love them! I hope my grandson will love them too.

Dick Bruna’s father had a publishing company. Although A.W. Bruna considered his son to be a black sheep in the beginning because he didn’t want to enter the publishing profession and dropped out of art school as well, Dick published his own books with the Bruna firm and illustrated a lot of other books.

Bruna is in his eighties, but he still takes his bike every morning to go to his studio and draw.

Update august 2014: Dick Bruna is now officially retired and won’t draw new books anymore.

Update february 2017: Unfortunately Dick Bruna passed away. RIP.

Geometrical forms

bruna nijntjebruna geometrical forms
A second book we gave is about the square, triangle and circle
A nice touch is that the mother is now learning some Dutch as well !

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Appreciating the beautiful Kroller-Muller Museum

Art: Appreciating the beautiful Kroller-Muller Museum

Art of Van Gogh, Mondrian and Marini

sunflowers van goghIt took me some time to learn to appreciate the Dutch Vincent van Gogh as a painter. Until I realized I was merely being stubborn – everybody likes him, so I won’t. Very immature! So I tried to be open and studied his life and opinions about painting.
He wanted so much to be a good painter, to paint the inner souls of his subjects, that it literally drove him mad. Only a few people with vision appreciated him back then. Which is a pity, don’t you think?

Piet Mondrian, another Dutch painter, had my immediate love. He had the same drive as Van Gogh, but lived in a later timeframe, so his studied subject was different and his life was different. Where Van Gogh died a poor, ignored and troubled man, Mondrian experienced admiration for his work while he was still alive.

The Italian Marino Marini was an Expressionist. In hindsight it’s very easy to see the development of the arts from the early 19th-century realism to the 20th century expressionism and abstract art, but those three artists all had to overcome a lot of objections in there own time.

The Kroller-Muller houses a lot of works of these three artists

van gogh room in kroller muller
One of the Van Gogh rooms with people discussing the Four Sunflowers

We visit the area and the museum on a regular basis. But this time it was winter. It was nice to be out of the cold for a couple of hours. Of course the most important thing was looking at the art, but because of the cold our first steps led right to the coffee counter.
After the apple pie and coffee we wandered through the rooms. The museum has besides the permanent collection several halls for temporary exhibitions, so there is a lot to see. For me the highlights are the paintings of van Gogh and Mondrian and the statues and drawings of Marini.

Logic will get you from A to B.
Imagination will take you everywhere.
– Albert Einstein

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), a Dutch painter who lived in France

sunflowers van goghFour Sunflowers Gone to Seed by Van Gogh
You don’t necessarily have to go to the very nice, but also very crowded, Vincent van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. One of the largest collections of Van Gogh paintings is in the Kröller-Müller Museum. Including one of my favorites: the sunflowers.
What I like about this painting is the liveliness. The blue in the foreground enhances the yellow of the sunflowers. The leaves and the hart of the flowers are merely little stripes, but they’re all in the right place. You can see the same ruggedness in the sunflowers as Vincent painted in for instance the Potato Eaters.

potatoe eaters van goghThe Potato Eaters by Van Gogh
Both paintings – The Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters – were stolen from the museum in 1988. As you can imagine, I am glad they were recovered undamaged half a year later.

By the way, did you know there are several versions of the famous Potato Eaters? In the Kröller-Müller Museum hangs the version with the forks. There is also a version in which the farmers eat with their hands.

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), a Dutch painter who lived in the States

Beach with three or four piers at Domburg - Piet Mondrian
Beach with three or four piers at Domburg – Piet Mondrian

You’ll probably know the paintings of Mondrian that have black lines and red, blue and yellow squares on a white surface. He was a member of the art movement De Stijl at that time.
Very rarely an artist develops his skill in a linear way. Mondrian did. If you have a look at the YouTube video you’ll get a good notion of that development. It is said that he even put his glasses parallel to the edge of the table. And he ended up in a fight with his friend Theo van Doesburg, a fellow De Stijl-member, who had the nerve to make his compositions diagonal, instead of horizontal and vertical.

The landscape is one of his early paintings. Isn’t it beautiful? He lived near the beach in the early years of his artistic career and painted a lot of landscapes. Then went from landscapes to a single tree, and developed his square De Stijl paintings from there.

Marino Marini (1901–1980) – Equestrian and circus figures

statue by marini

I admire Marini particularly because of this wooden equestrian statue. The emotion, texture and patina, the frozen movement – everything is excellent. It has the same power as Picasso’s Guernica, although it’s made 20 years after the Guernica. I couldn’t photograph the statue without a lot of background, so have a better look here.

Marini made sketches prior to his sculptures. Several are on the walls in the museum. He sketched and painted like a sculptor, with lots of lines. Almost as if he erased material from the figures, even though they are on paper. Can you see the difference between a painter’s drawing and a sculptor’s drawing?

Helene Kroller-Muller, one woman’s dream, a pleasure for thousands

kroller muller the netherlands
Walking Man by Giacometti in the foreground and on the right side behind it Horse and rider by Marino Marini

When I was a teacher at a high school I used to come here often with my students. Those field trips had all the good in them: paintings and applied art inside – architecture and a sculpture garden outside.

The collection is a result of the dreams of Helene Kröller-Müller. She had very specific thoughts about modern art.

Helene Kröller-Müller collected almost 11,500 pieces of art when she could afford it. A lot of what she picked is exactly what I like. Probably the reason I love going to this museum.
In the crisis of the late twenties and thirties she couldn’t maintain the collection any longer and to prevent it from falling apart she donated her entire collection to the Dutch state in 1935.

The focus of the museum is on 19th and 20th century art. Helene K. was the owner of the second largest private collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings.
She had statues of Giacometti and Marini. Paintings of Mondrian, Seurat, Toorop. To name a few.
After Helene died the museum kept on collecting pieces of art.

Children running through the museum
If the child has fun the parents are happy too

childrens program kroller muller

At times children were crawling around our legs, trying to outrun each other in search of something. I had no idea what they were after, until I discovered a brochure about a treasure hunt.

It’s awesome if a museum offers activities specifically for children. And better yet, if it is really fun to do. Of course, as a former teacher, I am inclined to say it should be educational. But I do know, that if it’s fun they learn more than when it’s boring.

Some visitors looked very harsh at the children running around. I guess they wanted the museum to be quiet like a library.

Located in a national park, surrounded by trees

kroller muller in de hoge veluwe
Kröller-Müller Museum hidden behind the trees. In summertime it looks even better, although you can hardly see the museum then.

The museum is in the National Park “De Hoge Veluwe”, 55 square kilometers of heath, sand dunes and woods. It’s a great area, especially since you can visit the rest of the park – after seeing everything inside the museum – with the white bikes that are free to use.

If you are interested in knowing more about that park, than visit this article of mine.

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