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Friday, July 19, 2019

Sketches and Memories of Belgium

In early June I traveled to Belgium. I was scheduled to teach two workshops with French Escapade…but first a little playtime! Two friends joined me in Brussels, Phyllis from California and Cris from Brazil. Our days in Brussels was lovely. Each day we ventured out to sight see and sketch. It rained a little but usually in early morning or during the night. The days were cool and pleasant. I was prepared for cooler weather and usually wore a light down jacket, scarf and sketching gloves. We had a wonderful time taking in the sights. We stayed at the ibis Hotel in Brussels. It was centrally located and a easy walk to the cathedrals, museums and sights.
It came time for my workshops. We met up with Jackie Grandchamps and Valerie Sals, the owners of French Escapade and our guides. After a 90 minute drive we arrived at our destination, our home away from home. We were 20 minutes from the historic center of Brugge (or Bruges). After 4 days in a busy city I was delighted to be in the country side with it’s green pastures, sheep, cattle, horses, chicken and one noisy peacock! What is a peacock doing in Belgium?

The day we visited the windmill in Damme everything was perfect. The day saw bright and sunny but not too hot. I had a cool breeze on my back and the windmill blades were rotating against the blue sky with large billowing clouds. I'm always on the look-out for interesting shadows. Imagine my delight when I saw the blade of the windmill wrapping the tower. It begged to be painted!

Belgium is very green and with that comes wet weather. I came prepared with a lightweight raincoat, umbrella and rain boots. Little did I know how quickly things would change. By the end of the week 

Europe was in the grips of a heatwave. The hot air came from the Sahara. Belgium, Germany and France were hit hard with severe heat warnings…ugh. I had plenty of clothes for cold rainy days but very little for the sweltering heat. 
Time to buy new hats!

I created a YouTube video titled, Sketchbook Tour: Belgium. Sketches of Brussels, Damme, Brugge, De Haan... Inside you'll see the lessons I taught and my commentary. At the end I show the supplies I used (sketchbooks, palette, paint, pens, ink...).If you have a problem viewing the video on my blog click here to see it on my YouTube Channel. VIDEO HERE

Since I've been home I did this small piece called “The Lace Maker of Brugge”. I enjoyed watching this woman sitting in her doorway making bobbin lace. In the upper left-hand corner you can see the lace I purchased from her. It took her more than 15 hours! She is obviously an older woman but her hands were young, pretty and agile.
I will carry memories of Belgium in my heart.  So many people worked to make this workshop special: French Escapade and our  hosts at the hotel...especially Monique! A BIG thank you to my students for sharing my love of travel and sketching on location.

Happy Sketching!

First Workshop Group June 12-19

Second Workshop Group June 19-26


  1. It looks like you had a lot of fun. I've never been to Belgium. The closest that I've been is when my dad had a temporary duty assignment in Denmark. My dad was there for 6 months and my mom, brother, sister, and I were there during our summer break, nearly three months! We did a lot of touring during those months.

  2. Loved this post, Brenda! Especially enjoyed all the great information in the sketchbook walk through! Your yellow pilot is my favorite color! I may have to gift myself a late birthday present! I have not been happy with the fountain pen I've tried so far, so hearing how reliable you feel that one is, tempts me. It's on my bucket list to join you in a workshop again one day. Sure would be a joy šŸ˜‰! Thanks for creating the video. Hugs, Katie in AZ.

    1. Katie, Glad to hear you enjoyed the sketchbook tout of Belgium. The Pilot Vanishing Nib is a great pen. The medium sized nib is so smooth and my favorite!