July 28, 2010. My wife and I had an overnighter in Freiburg, celebrating... well, just whatever, let's say 13 years in Germany. We had some coffee at this coffee house, next to the Martins Tor, just steps away from the Markthalle international stand-up restaurant area. A guy with a saxophone and his buddy with a guitar came up and entertained the crowds while we sat in the sunshine, watching some rain clouds move into the valley before an afternoon shower.
July 23, 2010. Jan is a Swede who came by our stuga a couple times while we were there. He has quite a bit of property where he hunts moose and boar, and this house he inherited from his wife's family. He gave me a tour of this beautiful house. At one time it had 8 kachelofens, (wood burning tile furnaces)- one in almost every room. On his property he's found old Viking artifacts. Just up the hill from this here is an old church ruin from the middle ages, adjacent to the cemetery where his wife is buried.
July 19, 2010. My wife's parents left today for Munich, after a great visit, so I took an extended period of time up in Freiburg to do this sketch while sitting up above the Schwabentor on the hillside. The view was amazing, and I didn't exactly get the tower into the sketch, but I had a great time, spending 2 1/2 hours on one drawing, something I never get time to do. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the city is more amazing than ever. I even went to the Markthalle and got a plate of my favorite Arabian food.
July 18, 2010. (on location, sitting on the church steps in Binzen) Today is Sunday, a day we set aside to go to church, have a special family meal, take time to rest and think. I realize there aren't many here in Europe who don't attend church any more. It's not that people don't appreciate quietude and beautiful music, or that they don't value goodness,beauty and truth. I think people still desire those things. Speaking as one who abandoned God for a period of time in my life, I think there is a suspicion of the church; a mistrust of those who call themselves "saved." Over time an entire culture discards its belief in the scriptures, and eventually in truth itself. Religion becomes a habit embraced only by the weak-willed, narrow-minded. (In some cases this may be true.) However, this is not the way of those who sincerely desire truth.
July 17, 2010. Here's a little sketch to honor Spain, the winners of this year's World Cup season. I was really pulling for Germany, but it didn't happen this time around. I have to say, I was very proud of the German team though. They were good sports when they lost to Spain. They didn't try to make excuses or slander the other team. They played hard to the end and congratulated the winners after the game. It's a young team, so I'm optimistic about the next go at it in four years.
July 14, 2010. Very hot in Basel today, but I'm not complaining. After a very cold winter, we're having a very hot summer. But no problem. Today it lingered somewhere around 100 F degrees, and we boarded a boat that took us up the Rhine a bit and back. Everybody drove back home and I stayed a little longer to sketch this little corner of the Marktplatz before jumping on a bus and going home.
July 13, 2010. We spent the day in Staufen im Breisgau today. There is a violin shop there to see, as my daughter is searching for an instrument to replace what she has. I took an hour to sketch out the Martin Luther church there. The town is the site of the fictional story of Faust, a German legend about a doctor with an insatiable lust for knowledge. While at an inn in the village he makes a deal with the devil, accepting tutorage from Mephistopheles, a demon, in exchange for his soul. We opted for a different inn to visit, the Café Decker, where in exchange for a few euros, we tasted some cakes and coffee.
July 13, 2010 My in-laws are here for a couple weeks. Yesterday, I took my son and his grandpa to the Cité de l'Automobile National Car Museum just over the border in France. That was my first time there, and I was pretty impressed with the collection. My son has recently been into Bugatti cars, and the museum holds loads of them. In fact, it has over 400 amazing old cars- quite a history lesson as you walk down the rows.
July 6, 2010 (on location) The tall building there is the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, the central bank of central banks. The history of the bank and the power it wields in the global economy make for some interesting reading if you get a chance. Anyway, I see it often, as it sits there near the SBB main train station, where I take travelers before they head off to other parts of Europe. I drew it today as I was sitting across the street on the grass. 8 x 11 in. - 2 hr. pen/watercolor wash
July 4, 2010 It was real Independence Day weather today- but the only celebration going on was over Germany's victory over Argentina last night. We took our visitor down to Basel today, as it's the first Sunday of the month free museum day. I sat on the corner of Elisabethen and Freie streets, getting a sunburn, while the gals found a Starbucks and watched the locals float down the Rhein.
July 2, 2010. So here's the little "stuga" named Sulatorp where we lived all week while we were in Sweden. My daughter was sick with the stomach flu at the time, my son and wife at Liseberg amusement park, so I settled down on the grass and listened to a cuckoo bird in the trees. The cottage was great- a wonderful restful place deep in the woods, owned by some missionary friends who live in our village. From here we ventured out to see several of my wife's Swedish relatives each day and enjoy the amazing countryside.
July 2, 2010. Well, we're back from our family vacation to Sweden, and once again my kids will affirm that every vacation is an adventure with unexpected surprises. On the way to the airport there was a major accident, holding back traffic for two hours with no detours around it. Believe it or not, we had planned for such an event and had left very early. Nevertheless, we finally arrived 15 minutes too late to board our plane and had to purchase new tickets and find a guesthouse in nearby Sohren. (Thus the drawing of Sohren.) Fortunately, we were flying Ryan air, so our original tickets were very minimal. The next day we arrived in Sweden to discover that our rental car company was now closed as it was the day after Midsummer. Therefore, we had to rent a second car from another agency. I wasn't a real happy camper at this point, my wallet shrinking with every setback, but the weather cleared and we ended up having a wonderful vacation after all. I'll post some more sketches in the next few days. (By the way, this building was the old movie theater in town, and I drew it because it was characteristic of many buildings in nearby villages in that it was covered in these heavy, gray shale stone shingles. The shale not only covered the roofs, but the siding of the buildings as well. The village of Sohren is over 700 years old.)