Category Archives: Art

Some New Paintings


Collage 1


COLLAGE I (detail)

Collage 2



COLLAGE II (detail)

Inspiration came from Peter Blake’s album cover for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” and of course Terry Gilliam’s collages for Monty Python.

The first painting is an adaptation of Renoir’s “The Boating  Party” into which I added a number of famous personages and a new background.

From left to right: Jimi Hendrix, the poet, Gregory Corso (with painted on beard), next to Jimi, Baroness Thatcher, Edith Head in a hat, the divas, Etta James, and Amy Winehouse. Behind Amy you’ll find Mike Royko, legendary journalist, both Gershwins, The Reverend  Martin Luther King, Jr. and the lovely Lucille Ball as a mermaid.

The second, I cannot for the life of me remember who the original artist was but I saw swooning females and immediatley my thoughts turned to Elvis, who is standing off to the right.  The other characters, from left to right are: Baldrick and Blackadder, Freddy Mercury, Pope Francis (I just love him) and next to him, the Reverend Al Green. In front of the clerics you’ll find a young Marlon Brando. Behind Brando are Hillary Clinton and Tyrion Lannister (good ticket for 2016, no?). Next to the swooning ladies is my man, Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon, Jim Morrison, and the wonderful Jamie Farr in Corporal Klinger drag. Seated next to Elvis, a young Paul McCartney wearing medieval Nikes. I’m especially proud of the dragonfly wings, that I drew freehand with a sharpie pen.




It has been one of those weekends that make you forget the long, long winter and the preceding five plus weeks of miserable weather. Summer is well and truly esconced in beautiful Twente. Of course we spent it with family, because that is what you do here.

The Hard Rock Uncle arrived on Friday for an afternoon of golf, dinner, a little Gros Manseng, and a bed for the night. Saturday was the quilt show.

GMOTI (Grandmother of the Imps) is (although she will deny this) one of Europe’s top quilters. It all started back in 1990, when GMOTI and I took the train to Haarlem to see the Frans Hals exhibition. We arrived early and had time to kill, so found ourselves wandering the charming cobbled streets of that burg and wound up ogling the shop window of a purveyor of quilting fabrics.

What’s a kilt?” GMOTI asked.

A kilt is one of those plaid skirts manly men wear in Scotland,“ I replied. “A quilt, on the other hand, is a fabulous patchwork blanket. My gran used to make them on frames that are about 200 years old.”

We strolled into the shop, chatted with the owner, made it to the Frans Hals exhibition, and a few weeks later enrolled in a quilting class together. Our teacher was the indomitable Joop Smits, whose name is also a byword in the quilting community. Joop is known for her technique of adding 12 stitches onto a number 9 needle, which is fine needlecraft indeed.

Quite quickly our paths diverged. I’m oldschool. To my mind, quilts are objects to be used and loved to schmattes. I preferred to work by hand and kept strictly to the traditional Amish patterns. GMOTI, it turns out, is a gifted designer and was keen to try out all the latest techniques, such as stack-n-whack, 3-D designs and whatever blew over from the Far East that week. She sees quilts as objets d’art and to be fair, hers are.


GMOTI’s first quilt, an oldschool “Sampler”

Since her retirement from the Dutch Railway in 1994, GMOTI has been an active member of the board of the Dutch Quilter’s Guild, teaching the art of quilting to others as well as designing and sewing her own quilts.




When there was some discussion about how to protect the grand piano in her church from the strain of damp and temperature changes, GMOTI knew what to do.

She organized a bee with a number of ladies from her church and a few of her students and designed a quilted cover for the piano based on the stained glass at either side of the altar. It was two years in the making. GMOTI did confess to the pastor that she sometimes missed the sermon because she was busy eyeballing the windows and developing her design. The pastor, who is an absolute mensch understood that this was God’s work too, and didn’t take offense.

There was no big unveiling of the piano quilt. Instead it and 25 of GMOTI’s other quilts were on display at the parish craft fair, which was where we found ourselves on a beautiful Saturday morning.

The church was dark and cool, and like all good churches, had an overwhelming whiff of beeswax. GMOTI and the committee polish the place to within an inch of its life on a regular basis. The photos of the piano quilt are a bit dark, I do apologize.



More photos from the show: 


The beautiful “Baltimore”


GMOTI (in pink floral tunic)



 Detail from Provençal quilt–hand sewn and quilted using “trapunto” technique


Uncle Hardrock, Bonnie Anne, Joe College, Charlie Brown and FOTI


One of the brave souls who climbed the tall ladders to hang the quilts…

Saturday night FOTI did his famous barbecue, some of Joe College’s friends stopped by, everybody left our house well-fed and today we just hung out by the pool. It feels like an old-fashioned endless summer.



Yesterday I saw 7 am. for the first time in a long time. Anne, Scheherezade’s daughter was competing in the group class for the Bellydance World Championship in Duisberg, Germany (of all places) and we were going along to support our team. I shook myself awake, got dressed and got busy putting together the picnic I’d promised to bring. Being that the competition was taking place in Germany, and being that German’s serve bratwurst and beer at any and all events, I packed a big halal lunch, in case some of the dancers got hungry and couldn’t eat pork. Good thing I did, but more on that later. I was nicely on time for once in my life and enjoying a cup of coffee when they pulled into my driveway at 8:30.

Despite the fog, we made good time and were at the theater in Duisberg 2 hours later. We dropped Anne off at the door, tore ourselves away from all the glitz being set up for the market, then Scheherezade, her firecracker of an 85 year-old mother-in-law and I headed toward the nearest Konditorei for kaffe and küchen to kill time before the contest was to begin. Anne phoned about an hour later because she was starving and there was nothing to eat at the theater yet and we made our way back to the car where I’d stashed the picnic, still talking nonstop about “50 Shades of Grey” and how awful it was compared to “9 ½ Weeks”.

We set up our picnic in the foyer, Anne met us and we sent her back to the greenroom with sandwiches, some bottled water and a box of Celebrations. We’d just had cake and didn’t need chocolate on top of that. After our nosh, the market was open and it was time to shop.

Scheherezade was on the lookout for a kaftan to wear when she’s performing. She really is a professional storyteller and is fully booked for the holiday season. You don’t want to show up in the same outfit to every gig. We thought this one was fabulous: 

The jewelery was interesting, but I was hoping to score a new pair of harem pants and belt. Dickering is not my strong point, but I paid below the normal asking price so I think the merchant and I both went away happy.

The WK started at 2pm. Oma went ahead to the theater while we were shopping and secured good seats for us.

I don’t have a video camera, so the photos are limited in that they only give a hint of the spectacle. It was clear after the first few acts that this was more of an EK (European Championship) than a WK, but the competition was impressive.

The contest consisted of a number of disciplines including:

  • Classical oriental (what most people know as bellydancing)
  • Folkloric (gypsy dance, sword dances, flamenco…etc)
  • Tribal and Tribal Fusion (hard to explain, watch the video)
  • Oriental Mix (Isis Wings, fan dances etc.)
  • Bollywood

As a member of the audience, I found these categories confusing, despite being familiar with many of the dance disciplines on stage. We agreed that the judges did not have an enviable task ahead of them. Anne was competing in the Classical Oriental group competition, and Koh-i-Noor (aka Karina and Noor) were in the duo competition. 

This group opened the show—they were spectacular.

and then we got stuff like this. I call it “The Kardashians do Folklore”.

I must get a video camera–this dance was exquisite, incorporating fans and color.

Tribal costumes–a feast for the eyes!

My favorite costumes of the day—for the headdresses alone.


Our girls (Sheba) wouldn’t get onstage until after 8 pm. In the meantime, the picnic (concealed in a large shopping bag) had been raided and demolished, numerous coffee runs had been made and I was overwhelmed by all the dances. I managed to worm my way into a better spot for these pix.

Sheila’s beautiful baby belly

None of our dancers won any prizes (we was robbed!) but Kim, daughter of Diva Joke (from the Thursday morning bellydance class) and her group walked away with first place at least twice.


 One  of the drum solos we didn’t hear yesterday!

 The fabulous Tribalways dance group.

Originally posted at my primary blog:

Bellydance WK 24 Nov.

Beautiful Things — Response to OC Bare Your Walls


Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris


While visiting an art gallery, I overheard a client telling the gallery owner he needed a “piece of art to fit my wall”. When the gallery owner inquired as to what kind of art he was looking for, he gave the measurements of the wall. Different strokes. I’m the other kind of person; the one who will find a spot for a piece I love, or regretfully admit that it is too large for my home and enjoy it for what it is in situ. The operative word here being “love”. If I’m feeling lukewarm about a painting or an object, I just walk away.


The first piece I photographed this morning (with my goofy lil’ point and shoot Coolpix) is the ink print of the Divi-divi tree, hanging across from my desk.

The Divi-divi tree is native to the ABC islands and always leans to the southwest, the islands’ prevailing wind direction. It reminds me of our time in Curaçao, the air charged with iodine, the constant smell of sea and tar, the heat, the bat-wing soft nights. It was there that I began to write again. It was there that I left a piece of my heart.

This next piece is part of a duo watercolor, “The House of the 5 Senses” which is close to the Waaigat on Curaçao. I could only get a good shot of the painting of right side of the house. The left is the same, with different gables at the top. This abandoned house fascinated me the entire time I was there. It was once a private residence, then a hotel and goodness knows what state it is in at the moment. I call it the “Hotel Dibino” in one of my island stories.


I believe this mask comes from New Zeeland, but I’m not sure. I bought it for a few bucks at a Wereld Winkel  because it spoke to me. I love his lips and his dreamy eyes.

Vincent and the boys gave me a second mask and diggeridoo for my birthday one year– also from the Wereld Winkel. I believe this mask comes from Indonesia. The diggeridoo works.


Vincent comes from a long line of master cabinet makers. His grandfather was the “smart one” and was sent on to teacher’s college to become an educator, but his love for woodworking remained with him all his life. He made this frieze when he was in his early 80’s. Again, the camera fails me. This just shows the center section.


More of Grandpa’s work. The Rooster is just a wood carving. The other two pieces, one portraying Adam and Eve and the other with various biblical scenes are baking moulds.


Ebru is the almost forgotten art of paper marbling. It is an ancient art and saw its high point (imho) in Ottoman Turkey. These examples were made by Aysen Alcicek. She is a gifted artist and city council member in Almelo. I’d originally bought two of Aysen’s large oil paintings, but the women’s center wanted those, so I ceded to the greater good and chose the ebru instead.

My mother-in-law is one of the top quilters in Europe. We have several to use on our beds, but this one, made mostly of silk, is far too delicate for everyday use. It hangs on the wall above our bed. She calls it “Flowers in Twente”

By far one of my favorite pieces of art, although I haven’t had it framed yet (it’s been 7 years) is the Sea Hex, by Julius. This magnificent creature seems to be terrifying a Greek warship. I love her and enjoy looking at her every day.

Originally posted at: