To those of you who know him it won't be a surprise to say I am so excited to say I got to spend a week with one of my favorite people - Bryan Jossart. I met up with Bryan in the Netherlands a few weeks ago and yes, we had some giggles together. Okay, we laughed until we cried about some of the most silly things, but I guess that's what happens when good friends get together.
We coordinated our trip so we would get together during his spring break from school (and yes, he is the most amazing math teacher) and we also got to meet up with a dear friend of his from when he taught in Germany. Her name is Sandy Ramon-Jenet and they were adorable together - two close friends who hadn't seen each other in years and years and she just adores Bryan, too. The three of us had a great time together.
I told Bryan, "I want to go to Gouda because I love Gouda cheese!" He said, "Okay! That's a great reason to go to Gouda - because you like the cheese!" So we got on the train and went to Gouda! (What a good friend!)
This is one of the small alleyways in Gouda alongside the village church and just around the corner we found a shop with pencil sketches in the window. I am a frustrated art collector and in my mind I would like to be collecting Picasso's and Rembrandt's, Van Gogh's and Lichtenstein's, but on a teacher's salary, that just isn't going to happen. In my mind, however, I collect these beauties and all my walls are adorned with interesting, captivating art.
When we walked down this alleyway, very close to where Bryan is standing, a man walked outside his gallery to have tea and a cookie, and to sit in his chair in the sunshine. His shop kitty followed closely behind. I asked the artist (in sign language, more or less, because I don't know Dutch) if we could come in his shop to see his artwork. He motioned us in and he sat on a chair to have his tea.
I was captivated by his work, and when I picked up this picture, I simply couldn't put it down.
The artist and I wanted to talk about his sketch but with the language difficulties we just couldn't get very far. It was heartbreaking, and heart-filling at the same time. We agreed on a price (I didn't barter and it wasn't expensive) and I paid him in euros. Bryan reminded me that I would have to get the sketch home because this is not a small piece of work - perhaps 60 cm. wide. It didn't matter. The frustrated art collector in me wanted it. I wanted to have those deep-looking, reflective eyes in my house. I wanted to remember this experience with this man with all the years of his career building to moments like this - when he has visitors to his gallery and looks forward to tea in the sunshine with his cat.
It was difficult to leave the gallery when we were done, and this feeling still strikes me. We kept looking at each other as if we had something to say, but neither of us could communicate. I think he was pleased that someone appreciated and understood his work, and I was pleased that someone could create something that affected me so deeply. (Thank goodness I lost that terrible white hat! It now belongs to someone in the Netherlands.)
So we walked away, but I wanted a picture of this street, his street, so I could remember what it looked like on this cool spring day. I went back and found him, sitting on his chair, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine.
You see him there, on the right side, sitting in the white chair. His shop is opposite him on the left side of the street. To the back of us is the old Gouda church.
Gerrit Kloens, artist
For a six-minute video on Gerrit Kloens and his art, CLICK HERE.
On another day, Bryan and I decided to go to the Rembrandt Museum House but when Bryan found out I wanted to go to a 3-hour class about etching and how the 17th century artists mixed their paints, he was less than thrilled. When we learned the classes are continuous walk-bys for the visitors we went together and we were not disappointed.
This instructor was very articulate at explaining the process of etching and why Rembrandt was so successful at this art form. (Of course, it only made me want to do one myself!)
Tools for etching.
After the metal etching is done, it looks like this.
The large-looking mallets on the left were used to take the ink and "ink" the metal etching. They were made of skin that doesn't absorb the ink, which, unfortunately, was made from the skin of dogs - because (as many of us know), dogs don't perspire and therefore their skin is more resilient to the absorption of ink.
When the metal form is inked, it is put on a piece of paper and put through this press.
A finished print.
On another day, Bryan and I went to the small town of Delft, but not specifically to see the tiles! Many of the museums in Amsterdam are closed for renovations and the tulip gardens, which we really wanted to see, were still dirt, so we ventured out to new towns outside of Amsterdam.
In Delft we went to the top of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). Here is Bryan looking up the 300 + stair staircase to the top of the spire. (Doesn't he look gallant in this light? :)
Here is the view to the marketplace from the spire.
View from Nieuwe Kerk.
"Yeah, baby. We climbed the spire!"
Here's a picture from Utrecht, home of the infamous Maarten Andriessen. It was home to the most enjoyable toy store I've ever had the privilege to visit - we played with everything! Of course, it was the Pinocchio toy store!
When I was a child I WANTED to be in the circus! (Eek. Tell me it wasn't so!)