Today I landed at Schipol airport outside of Amsterdam and made my way to the city by train. It may be the simplest thing, but I was absolutely struck at how silent the train was. This was a massive thing, transporting several hundred people, and there was nary a rattle. It was a sharp contrast to the usual jitter of my Amtrak rides and a significant shift from the Chicago cta; riding the blue line to O’Hare yesterday, I overheard someone remark that they thought we were about to go flying off the tracks after a particularly wobbly stretch.
After arriving, I made my way to my hostel by way of metro and walking through the Waterloopleinmarkt (flea market in Waterlooplein area) and got checked in, then started making my way to my canal cruise. It’s very much The Tourist Thing to do, but it seemed a good a way as any to get my bearings, check out lots of potential sketch subjects, and get a general assortment of Amsterdam facts and trivia. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, I can sincerely (and without any sponsorship/bribery) recomment Amsterdam Boat Adventures as a reputable and enjoyable cruise provider. The sketches below were all done during my ninety minutes on the boat, just quick impressions and notes to help me figure out what is interesting and what subjects I might want to return to in the future.
Because our boat was a smaller, open-top one, we were able to go to some places that the larger covered tour boats can’t. Plus, our boat was electic, which meant it was almost silent; Jaime didn’t need a microphone to be heard at all. I later saw several of the larger boats noisily (and clumsily) churning their motors to rotate the boats to make tight turns our boat hadn’t even paused at, all while a tour guide shouted into a microphone. I’ll pass.
After my tour, I grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant called Water & Blood, which was a rather dramatic name for a no-frills, fairly typical Dutch experience. Once lunch was done, I took an ambling path north through the old Jewish Quarter, taking in the old Portugese Synagogue along the way, before making my way back to the hostel by way of the Waterloopleinmarkt.
And while the hostel is nice enough, it is not air conditioned. And Amsterdam is in the middle of a heat wave. So I crossed the road to the Boekenmarkt, which is a book marked that has been operating continuously for a couple centuries (no big deal, but this book market is older than the world’s oldest currently-operating democracy). Rembrant apparently used to frequent it back in the day. I did a little shopping, then stepped into the nearby ‘hidden’ courtyard. There, I found none other than Brazilian Urban Sketcher Eduardo Bajzek, faculty at this year’s symposium and organizer of the 2014 USk Symposium in Paraty, Brazil. He was preparing some graphite drawings for his workshops, so there would be examples of all the steps available.
I asked if he minded if I join him, and he didn’t, so I grabbed a seat and started working on a drawing. Watercolor first, then ink after. I struggle with foliage (part of why I’m taking a plant-centric workshop on Thursday!) so this sketch is also acting as my ‘before’ or ‘control sketch’ so I can directly compare how I treat plants before and after my workshop.
I’d been looking for a ‘good’ spot to do a longer sitting, so I’m glad I came across Eduardo in the courtyard. Sometimes the hardest thing about drawing is just to start, and I’d started overthinking where I ‘should’ draw. Finding someone else drawing cut through all the noise — if that spot was good enough for him to draw, it was just fine for me.
- On 23 July, 2019
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