Sunday, June 29, 2008

How a Dutch Windmill Works

Roland Lee watercolor painting of the Stellingmolen at the Open Lucht Museum in Arnhem Netherlands

8" x 12" Watercolor painting of Dutch Windmill by Roland Lee. This big Stellingmolen at the Open Lucht Museum in Arnhem Netherlands has its sails trimmed and operating. I had a chance to study this molen up close and see them demonstrate putting the canvas sails on and taking them off.

Click here for more information about this painting of Stellingmolen in Holland


Admittedly, this is from someone who isn't really qualified to speak on the subject, but in general this is how the windmill (molen) works. The four-bladed Sails Grinding stone on De Volharding windmill in Zeddam(sometimes called wings by the locals) are angled so they catch the wind, operating a gear mechanism inside the cap which turns a vertical shaft. This shaft is harnessed to huge grinding stones for milling grain. The windmills were also often used in Holland to operate an Archimedes Screw for pumping water. Although used since the 12th century, today most windmills in Holland are static and kept only for historical purposes.

Wooden cog wheel on De volharding windmill in Zeddam HollandWe were fortunate to have a private tour of De Volharding windmill in Zeddam Holland, owned by Remco Harmsen and Mara Waszkiewicz. It is fascinating to see the inner workings with the huge mechanisms and multi-ton millstones. Remco took me up a narrow ladder into the cap to see huge wooden-tooth gears. I was surprised that it only took a slight wind to turn them and they were so smooth and quiet--No creaking or groaning as I expected. Remco Harmsen owner of De volharding windmill in Zeddam HollandOne day Remco hopes to have the windmill completely restored and operating on a regular basis. We were lucky to happen on this one while it was in motion, as most are not.

De Volharding windmill in HollandThe wooden lattice structures you see on the sails in paintings and photos are actually just the supports. In order to actually catch the wind, the miller must stretch canvas over the latticework and "trim" up the sails to best capture the wind power. This is done by braking the sails and rigging them up (or down) one sail at a time. It's fun to watch the process, and see the big wings in motion.

Click to see all my paintings from the Netherlands

Click to see all my travel sketchbook drawings from Holland

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Paintings of Dutch Windmills

St. Maartensdijk Molen windmill in HollandI've spent the last two weeks working on some new paintings of Windmills in Holland. I started with small watercolor studies of some of my favorite windmills we visited in the Netherlands and I'm now working on a couple of big watercolor landscape paintings of Holland.

This painting is of a windmill in Sint Maartensdijk on the island of Tholen in Zeeland. I visited this windmill a couple of times to get some photos and sketchbook reference. All the windmills were bigger than I expected and the big wings are really something to see when they start turning. The lattice work that you see on most photos of windmills actually supports the canvas sails which are stretched out across them to catch the wind. Without the sails the wings won't turn.

click here for more information on painting of St. Maartensdijk Dutch Windmill

Monday, June 23, 2008

Traditional Dutch Clothing and Dutch Girl Hats

Jodi and Zach Simmons in Dutch ClothingJodi and Zach dress up Dutch right down to the traditional wooden shoes.

While we were in the Netherlands Nellie and her sisters collected a few Dutch girl caps, aprons, and other Dutch regalia in preparation for a planned "Dutch Girl Camp" for all the cousins and granddaughters. So on Saturday our home was inundated with blond-headed girls in full Dutch costumes including authentic wooden shoes. They made traditional Dutch goodies, Dutch crafts, and ended up with a photo shoot. By the way, Nellie painted the wooden Dutch Windmill in the photos to match the Molen in Tholen Zeeland Netherlands where many of her ancestors lived.

Photo of traditional dutch clothingJennie, Ellie, Emma, and Josh all decked out in Dutch regalia.

Photo of girls in Dutch costumesJolynn, Alyssa, and Hannah standing by an authentic replica of the "Tholen" Windmill in Zeeland.

Dressing up in home made Dutch costumesBarb and Kelsey look grand in their Dutch girl clothing.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Typical Facades and Gables in Dutch Architecture

Building facade in Tholen NetherlandsThis building near the center of Tholen features a typical, yet elaborate gable front. Most of the buildings are very narrow, with two or three stories above. The street levels can either be homes or storefronts even in the same part of town. Always the windows are dressed with lace curtains and potted flowers inside the home. Every home without exception is immaculate and "home show perfect."

Store front facade in Dutch CityThis style of store front facade was very typical of almost all Dutch cities. The date of original construction is proudly posted on the top of many of them dating back many hundreds of years. It is fun to walk down any city street in the Netherlands and just look at the building architectural features, noting the dates.

As I noted before, brick is extensively used in all construction in the Netherlands. Many fronts had little wings that jutted out where the face met the roofline. Often, the bricks were set at an angle along the diagonal rooflines as well. The brick masons were certainly skilled in their work and must have been competing for awards in design uniqueness.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Studies for Paintings of Churches in Holland

The main tower of the Oudekerk or old church in Tholen NetherlandsThe tower of The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Our Lady's Church) dominates the town of Tholen. It was built in 1375 while construction of the nave, aisles, the choir and the transept began in 1400. In 1578 it became a Protestant church and remains so today.

OF COURSEevery town in Holland has at least one major church building dating back centuries, but some towns have everal churches. Since Holland is relatively flat, the Church steeples always stand out in the skyline and (along with the windmills) help identify when you are approaching a town. In many cases the old church (Oudekerk) is the actual center or centrum of the city, with streets readiating out from there. The drawings here were done in the town of Tholen Netherlands where we lived for a week.

Study for a painting of the old church in Tholen NetherlandsI decided to make a study of the ornate windows on the Oudekerk in Tholen and had barely begun when the rain started to fall as it does often in Holland. I ducked under a tree and continued sketching, but eventually couldn't keep the water off the paper so I called a halt.
the new church in Tholen NetherlandsThis is the new church located on the town market square. One morning while walking I stopped to relax on a bench in the square and this stately building beckoned me to sketch it. As I worked, a number of kids and adults on their way to work and school stopped to take a look.

View all Holland Travel Sketchbook Drawings by Roland Lee

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sailboats in Volendam Holland

A few more pictures of my sketchbook drawings from Volendam Holland. These three drawings were done around the little bay in Volendam, north of Amsterdam Holland. Take a look at all my travel sketchbook drawings from holland on my Roland Lee Art Gallery website.

Picture of a sketchbook drawing rom Volendam NetherlandsA variety of boats steadily came in and out of the little harbor at Volendam. From across the bay a string of store facades formed a nice backdrop to the scene. I sketched this scene from a small jetty that separated the little harbor from the bigger sea of Markemeer.

Typical Holland SailboatWhen we arrived at the bay in Volendam this big typical Holland sailboat was moving slowly out of the harbor. The mist was still on the water and the effect was almost ethereal.

Sailboat in Volendam Harbor on the MarkemeerWhat impressed me most was how the sailors could maneuver their boats into any available spot at the docks. Holland is famous for their seamanship skills and I got to see evidence of their skills firsthand all over Holland. these people love their boats.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Paint the Parks Exhibit in St. George

Roland Lee and Don Weller at the Paint the Parks Top 100 Travelling ExhibitArtist Don Weller made a presentation at the St. George Art Museum tonight as part of the Paint the Parks Top 100 Travelling Exhibition. Both Don and I have paintings in the exhibit. Don was an influence when I was a young artist back in the 70's and it was a pleasure to meet him and visit about the changing face of art. The exhibit continues at the St. George Art Museum through July 7 when it moves to its next venue.

See the complete travelling exhibit schedule for Paint the Parks

Monday, June 16, 2008

Authentic Traditional Dutch Clothing

Photo in traditional Dutch clothing in Volendam NetherlandsFrom the time we arrived in Holland Nellie wanted to have our picture taken in full traditional Dutch costumes. Everywhere we went in the Netherlands she would ask, and they would always tell us to go to Volendam where they still wear traditional clothing. Since we were in Zeeland, at Holland's southern end I wasn't anxious to drive clear up to Volendam which is north of Amsterdam. But alas, we finally got there and took this picture. Once in costume I discovered I could also play the accordian -- amazing!

Drawing of Volendam Museum where they displayed historical exhibits and beautiful genre paintings of early Netherlands scenesOur first stop in Volendam was the Volendam museum. I quickly sketched the building before going inside. They had a wonderful display of traditional Dutch clothing and fantastic historical displays, but I was most intrigued by the number of gorgeous original Dutch genre paintings hanging throughout the museum.

Picture drawing of traditional Dutch Girl Caps in Volendam Museum NetherlandsNellie and her sisters are going to throw a "Dutch Girl Party" for all the nieces and granddaughters this week, so they paid careful attention to the Dutch girl caps. They are made of heavily starched lace material with long wings. I thought it would be tough to keep them on in the wind, or stay starched in the rain.

Dutch Girl Caps in VolendamI sketched these hats while in the Volendam Museum. Nellie bought a couple of Dutch girl hats, lace, and other traditional Dutch clothing items while we were in Volendam. I'm grateful we didn't have to pack home wooden shoes too. We already have those at home.

View all Holland Travel Sketchbook Drawings by Roland Lee

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thatched Roofs in Holland - Travel Sketchbook Drawings

I never expected thatched reed roofs in Holland and yet almost everywhere we went, especially in the countryside, we saw them. Some were all thatch, others half-thatch and half-tile. I think today they do it for tradition, but in the past it was the cheapest and most readily available roofing material. I'm guessing that the thatch roofing experts today make a lot more money than the ones in the past!

sketchbook drawing study for painting of thatched roof house in Holten NetherlandsThis is a beautiful thatched roof farmhouse in Holten in the province of Overijssel. The thatched roofs are very thick and neatly trimmed off around the edges. I would love to see one actually under construction. It must be a time-consuming process but looks wonderful when finished.

sketchbook drawing study for painting of thatched and tile roof house in the NetherlandsMost of the common homes had a combination thatch and tile roof with the thatch on the top half. The thatched part was always capped the same way, with a dark red tile mound that ran the length of the ridgeline.

sketchbook drawing study for painting of thatched camelback roof house in NetherlandsMany homes had this "camelback" style design. When I asked about it the explanation was simply that the larger part of the home with the high roof used to be an attached barn for animals. Most of course have now been converted into part of the living quarters. Can you imagine bedding down in the same house with the cows and pigs?

View all Holland Travel Sketchbook Drawings by Roland Lee

Friday, June 13, 2008

A few Holland Sketchbook Drawings - Giethoorn Netherlands

I've decided to start posting a few random drawings from my travel sketchbooks each day. These drawings were done on location in The Netherlands. They are not necessarily designs for paintings, but more of a personal record in word and picture of my own experiences as I travel. Some will undoubtedly end up as painting reference.

Vonder (footbridge) that cross the canals in Giethoorn NetherlandsIn Giethoorn Netherlands, sometimes called Holland's "Green Venice," the houses sit on little islands separated by a series of long narrow canals. Vonders, or footbridges allow residents to get to their houses.

Combination barn and boat house in Giethoorn HollandThe residents of Giethoorn have little canals that serve as driveways to their barns. Of course part of the barns are used as covered boat houses for the family means of transportation.

cook House next to reed thatched roof home in Giethoorn NetherlandsSometimes the homes with thatched reed roofs would have a tiny cook house out to the side which had a little cook stove and tile roof. They say this was much safer than cooking in the main house due to the possibility of the reeds catching fire.

View all Holland Travel Sketchbook Drawings by Roland Lee

View all original paintings of the Netherlands by Roland Lee

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Farewell to the Windmills of Holland

Photo of Holland windmillBicycles, windmills, and water -- we won't soon forget Holland.

Well, we're finally back home in Utah and trying to adjust to the time. It's always a sad farewell when our trips come to an end. But My head is loaded with memories, and my travel sketchbooks are full of drawings -- now it's time to paint.

We spent 24 hours on the road and got in very early this morning. We flew out of Gatwick to Atlanta where we cleared customs and had to change planes. Kind of an ordeal because of the long security lines. We also had to retrieve and re-check our baggage. Nellie's suitcase had exploded and we had to tie it up with rope. From Atlanta to Los Angeles and then via United commuter into St. George where we were (as always) surprised to see that our luggage had made all the connections too. We got home at 1am and crashed. It's such a contrast between the deep greens of Holland and the desert reds of St. George, but it's good to be home.
Roland and Nellie under the wooden shoes in the open air folk museum in Arnhem.

Nellie, Barb and Tricia wear the bright orange colors of the Holland soccer team.
Enjoying Pannenkoeken at a local pancake house.
Nellie grabs the pruning shears and gives a demonstration for the gardeners at the Royal Palace in Apeldoorn.
Barbara relaxes with a handsome guy she met at the Palace

View all Holland Travel Sketchbook Drawings by Roland Lee

Friday, June 06, 2008

Photos from Holland - Trip's End

Roland Lee sketching along the canals in Giethoorn NetherlandsSketching in Holland's "Green Venice" in the town of Giethoorn.

Canals in Giethoorn HollandWe're back in England after two weeks in Holland and we have internet access again (hooray). After a week in Zeeland, the south Province of Holland, we zigzagged all over the north part of Holland exploring the towns and soaking up the culture. Holland is amazingly beautiful, and is the cleanest country I've ever seen. The tidy farms and well-kept farmhouses are only rivaled by the Amish Farms in Lancaster Pennsylvania -- and they are Dutch too! After dropping Barb and Tricia off at the Deventer Train Station this morning, Nellie and I drove the Picasso rental car back down to Belgium where we got lost in Brussels. From there we caught the Eurostar train under the English Channel for London -- then by train to Horley where we are staying at the Rosemead Guest House. Tommorrow morning we head back to the states from Gatwick Airport. I can't upload photos from here, so I will do that when I get home.