Amsterdam Weekend

amsterdam2

I realize I have yet to post a blog with sketches from Switzerland, but what can I say? Blame EasyJet. I had a free weekend before a 10-day stretch with my husband out of town and two kids to herd singlehandedly, so off I went to meet my cousin and her husband in Amsterdam.

What’s Amsterdam without its museums? And my favorite, museum cafes. This one at the Stederlijk had a nice view of the Concertgebouw and a row of fancy shops, so I sat there for a bit pretty much every afternoon. Thanks to decades of KLM freebies, I will always think of them as “Bols Buildings,” but those distinctive Dutch rowhouses are hard to resist. I sketched this stretch out in pen, intending to watercolor later, but I got to like the black and white look.

My first “real” stop was the Van Gogh museum, and afterwards I couldn’t resist trying to approximate his style, but with watercolors, which was all I had with me. [PS – not strictly a USK work, but it’s related to the topic at hand, and it was in my sketchbook – I’ll make it a small image so no one complains too much.]
The Museumkwartier and de Pijp area was exactly my speed – once the museums closed and the tour groups went back to their hotels, it was just a (very nice) residential neighborhood. And with the gorgeous weather and perfect temperatures, everyone was outside, enjoying drinks and meals with friends at the corner restaurants and cafes; or if they were cooking at home, with their doors and windows wide open, delicious smells and small children spilling out to the sidewalks.
Speaking of doors, I have always loved doors, and wherever I go, interesting ones always catch my attention. This one grabbed me because of its awesome symmetry and no-nonsense geometric-ness, coupled with the reflection and shadows of the breezy tree beside it. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to “have” it. I could say that I went back the next morning to catch it in the right light, but the truth is, I got lost on my way to somewhere else the next day and decided that the door-drawing gods were sending me a sign, because there was THAT door again:
Later that afternoon, my travel buddies and I did an astounding (and hopefully never-repeated) stretch of eating – first, a number of mini-burgers and sandwiches (mini, yes, but many minis tend to add up). Then, we decided to walk through the Cuypmarket and over a quarter-mile stretch, managed to buy and consume a batch of poffertjes (mini-pancakes loaded with butter and powdered sugar), coconut macaroons, and stroopwafels. It’s telling that I have no sketches of any of those things, because they disappeared far too quickly, but I had to sit and have a long recuperation period afterwards, nearby at the Sarphatipark. Hence, this watercolor sketch as a siesta alternative:
I actually had the next two sketches on the same page in my book, mainly just having fun with the colors. Get it? First, the Delft building, and a view across a canal from the red light district:
 
Another cafe-sitting session, this one after walking miles up and down the 9 Straatjes (v. cool shopping area) and watching a series of people sit down on the shady doorstep across the street for a smoke (not that kind, I don’t think). Tourists, waitresses on break, punks – it was clearly a favorite spot.
And to cap off the trip before my silly o’clock flight back to Geneva the following morning, I hit up the Concertgebouw for a couple Vivaldis and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and was amazed at the following things: 1. the acoustics in that hall; 2. the fact that the chamber orchestra played while standing; 3. Countertenors; 4. free-flow wine before the concert and at intermission included with admission; and 5. that the house lights stayed on for the entire duration of the concert – I could’ve been sketching the action in there if I had known! Unfortunately, I had left all my gear at the hotel because it wouldn’t fit in the pockets of my little black dress.
Luckily, I at least had a sketch of the building exterior from earlier that day:
And with that, back to Geneva and to my babies. Thanks for reading!

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