Celtic meets Sufi

2 04 2008

One of my favorite singers is Loreena McKennitt, I hope you will enjoy this song.

The mystic’s dream

A clouded dream on an earthly night
Hangs upon the crescent moon
A voiceless song in an ageless light
Sings at the coming dawn
Birds in flight are calling there
Where the heart moves the stones
It’s there that my heart is longing
All for the love of you
A painting hangs on an ivy wall
Nestled in the emerald moss
The eyes declare a truce of trust
Then it draws me far away
Where deep in the desert twilight
Sand melts in pools of the sky
Darkness lays her crimson cloak
Your lamps will call me home
And so it’s there my homage’s due
Clutched by the still of the night
Now I feel you move
And every breath is full
So it’s there my homage’s due
Clutched by the still of the night
Even the distance feels so near
All for the love of you
A clouded dream on an earthly night
Hangs upon the crescent moon
A voiceless song in an ageless light
Sings at the coming dawn
Birds in flight are calling there
Where the heart moves the stones
It’s there that my heart is longing
All for the love of you



An old painting, from Art college, but I still love it: Zebra in the doge’s palace. Oilpainting

More Incense

30 03 2008

As so many people enjoy talking about incense and other smelly stuff, I will share some more favorite recipes.

Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin, Copal, are literally tree-resins, which you can burn in small granules on charcoal blocks. basically any kind of container can be used, they have to be capable of holding very hot coals. It helps a lot if you fill the container with sand.

Here are two small incense burners; the one on the left is Chinese; filled with sand, the one on the right has a metal mesh on which the coal rests.


The plant on the right is the mint I had to buy after American-Bedu gave us the recipe for Saudi-Champagne. I now use a lot of mint.

You can easily blend your own incenses, remember that once burnt many herbs and stuff smell very differently. According to aroma-therapy smell has a great influence on us. If that is so it makes sense to have different incenses for different purposes. With incense it’s the same as with cooking: as soon as you get used to the idea you start changing the recipes, or make up your own. Usually you want to keep the proportions of dried stuff much smaller than the resins. However, the second recipe turns that rule around, and is yet a very nice one.

The recipes usually use essential oils. Here are some of my ingredients. From right to left: Dragons-blood-resin, Copal, Frankincense, Camphor, (empty, that stuff has just completely disappeared!!!) Sandalwood, more Frankincense, Bezoïn, Myrrh and Storax.


It is best to grind the ingredients as fine as possible, and dragonsblood for example comes in large chunks, But I usually leave the resins as granules. Here are my two pestles, a course, and a fine one. I am here making the violet dusting powder. (without the violets, but I’m using extra lavender ground very fine)


As I cannot give the recipes other than tea-spoons and drops and dashes, I’ve photographed the ingredients to give an idea of the proportions.

Sweet Incense


  • three teaspoons of Frankincense
  • one teaspoon of Myrrh
  • one teaspoon of dried rose-petals
  • three drops of amber essential oil

This is a very simple and sweet smelling incense, crush the dried rose-petals into small bits, mix everything together, and add the drops of amber. Store in a tight lidded box.

Incense for Romance


From the top, clockwise

  • Three teaspoons of sandalwood
  • one teaspoon cinnamon
  • one teaspoon galangal
  • two teaspoons rosepetals
  • three drops neroli essential oil
  • one teaspoon dragonsblood resin

Crush the rose petals and dragonsblood resin, mix everything together, and add three drops of neroli. It’s such a small vial because it’s so bloody expensive!

This is a very unusual scent, it’s herby, spicy and sweet. Defenitely for the evening. It should get you and your mate’s blood running. Please inform me if it is so!

The proof of the incense is in the smelling! I’ve just tried them, and; lovely! But I think a little goes a long way, so for me these two will last me quite a long time.


Romantic body-oil

With all these essential oils you can also make yourself some lovely smelling body-oil for after your bath. This one is for women, it makes you even more attractive, and is supposed to work as a magnet for men, so you might want to be careful when to use it!!! As a base you can use either Jojoba or almond oil. You can make it on friday (venus’s day) But then I just made it on a Sunday, and it still smells lovely. 🙂 With recipes for scents, I think you should look at the recipe, but blend until it seems right to you! For use as a perfume, use just a tiny bit of base-oil, and then add the essential oils.

Blending fragances is an aquired art, and takes a keen sense of smell, but it gets easier with practise.


  • Jasmine
  • Red rose
  • one drop of lavender (not more)
  • drop of musk
  • and Ylang-ylang. be very careful with the Ylang-ylang, while it is lovely in a blend, too much smells (strangely) like cheap soap.

For men!

Very earthy and passionate, be prepared for anything! And according to my book it also works as an aphrodisiac with amazing results! Hum, if anybody actually is going to make this, and gets these amazing results, I would love to get a report of it!!!

Start with a base of Musk, and Patchouli. Add cinnamon, carnation and vanilla. Blend and add until the scent is right for you.


Next time I will post a list of what different scents are supposed to do, and share some more recipes.

The Tree of Life

23 03 2008

Today is Easter, the resurrection of Christ. Also: Ostara, a pagan festival of awakening nature and fertility. I find it very cheerful. Especially as there is a lot of chocolate going around in the shape of chocolate eggs. Eggs are also painted and decorated as the Iranians do for Nowrooz.

It’s another festival where some people put trees up: in the case of Easter usually twisted branches in a vase, that will start sprouting leaves in a few days, and the branches are decorated with eggs and hares and birds.

This symbolises the Tree of Life. A universal symbol. The middle eastern image of The Tree of Life, as a simplified tree with two figures, or animals at either side is well-known.



What I hope interests you, my friends is; that this image is very popular in the north of the Netherlands!

Dutch doors have a window above the door, to let in the light. These doorlights are very often decorated with a stylised Tree of Life. The idea is, that every time you come in through the door, you get blessed. Many of these have been removed, and they are still disappearing, which I think is a pity, so I photographed a few for you. These are all from the city of Groningen. Most are made from cast iron.

This is a very elaborate one from the 17th century


The 18th century had more stylised ones.


The early nineteenth century’s ones are similar. This one is merged with a ”horn of plenty” grapes and flowers are dripping down.



Later on the Tree of Life, became more simplified,


And this is the most common form to be seen.


And, of course, I have one myself. It is very close to the middle eastern examples like this shell-carving.


Only mine is in the kitchen, because I live in a thirties house, with no door-light. There are no trees after 1900. Don’t know why.


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10 03 2008

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A favorite song

4 03 2008

Freedom! .traq-op-strand.jpg

A song and lyrics I would like to share. But I expect ya’all know this one. Well, now you know I really like this one! 🙂

And I see some of you as my traveling eagle companions.

They came flyin’ from far away, now I’m under their spell
I love hearing the stories that they tell
They’ve seen places beyond my land and they’ve found new horizons
They speak strangely but I understand

And I dream I’m an eagle
And I dream I can spread my wings
Flyin’ high, high, I’m a bird in the sky
I’m an eagle that rides on the breeze
High, high, what a feeling to fly
Over mountains and forests and seas
And to go anywhere that I please

As all good friends we talk all night, and we fly wing to wing
I have questions and they know everything
There’s no limit to what I feel, we climb higher and higher
Am I dreamin’ or is it all real

Is it true I’m an eagle
Is it true I can spread my wings
Flying high, high, I’m a bird in the sky
I’m an eagle that rides on the breeze
High, high, what a feeling to fly
Over mountains and forests and seas
And to go anywhere that I please

Beautiful angel of death

1 03 2008

But not painted by me, but by a guy called Carlos Schwabe. As Shahrzad mentioned: the angel of death should be beautiful.

I always really liked this one as a kid.


And the really cute Death, according to the writer Neil Gaiman.


The Tarq in the Alhambra

27 02 2008

Well, finally finished: The Tarq in the Alhambra.

It’s not just the painting, I have also changed my brand of gouache paint! That’s a big decision you know! I have now switched to Lasceaux. It means renewing the whole range of colours, but also having for a small part to re-learn working with the paint. The colours will work differently together, so that means I must re-learn mixing them. It paints slightly different, and dries differently too.

But I’m very pleased! This is really a beautiful paint; véry rich. Meaning very deeply pigmented; the cheaper a paint, the less pigments they put into it. The colours then become increasingly pale. Also they might be inferior pigments wich will fade over time. Paint is nothing more than: pigments and a carrier. That can be Arabic gum for watercolours and gouache, linseed oil for oil-paint, Acrylic for Acrylic-paint, or egg for tempera. Or spit: which is what they used on pre-historic cave paintings.

This is the first result with the new paint:


A horse in the Alhambra 3

19 02 2008

Is finished! Here you can see it half finished, the walls are almost finished. I use many layers of gouache paint, which then melt and mix, making for a very rich texture. I’m also slowly working things out here, because, yes, it’s a horse in the Alhambra, but I’m using the series also to try out difficult problems. In this case a play with light and dark.


The finished painting!


Horse in the Alhambra 2

17 02 2008

The painting of Trabag is in its first stage, just monochrome colouring, but everything is at its place. From now on it’s just a lot of work. I sometimes start an oil-painting this way too, but this is going to be in gouache.


The whole series is very much inspired on Mughal Miniatures from the British Museum. I never go there without having a look at my particular favorites. They are often quite flat, space-wise,but I’m noticing the space in the paintings is getting deeper. Trabag has quite a lot of depth.

moghul_miniature_amberhead.jpg. . moghul_miniature.jpg

The Alhambra horses are also quite small, 15cm by 15cm, and painted with gouache, and embellished with real gold and silver leaf. I sometimes put them into real space, and sometimes I just use tiles or a stone-grid as a background.

This is the ”Quarto Dorado”


And different ways the horses are put in:




American Bald Eagle

16 02 2008

I’m posting this because I think Lofter will like it.. .americanbaldeaglebok.jpg

Last year Colorado Saddlery in Denver moved premises, and every now and then they found something in the rafters and send it to us, thinking we might like it.

There was this saddle-tree without a horn, and very old-fashioned bars: no modern horse has such a back. As I am still really an apprentice I thought I’d use it to try my skills on. And, I’d make something really over the top. Something very ”American”. I was thinking of those great American Carousels (mostly made by immigrants) and came up with The American Bald Eagle! The head by the way, is carved out of a piece of willow-wood-for-wooden-clogs! So there is a dutch connection!bald-eagle-kop.jpg

This is an American carousel horse: . carrousel_denzel_horse.jpg

It is, notwithstanding the insane design, an old-school saddle. Separate front-jockey, hard-seat, double-D rigging, and an eight-string construction. Enjoy!



Just adding another carousel horse: carouseleagleprance.jpg

And a Stein&Goldstein head: Cool! : carrousel_steingoldstein.jpg