Sketches from Second Week in Netherlands

My sketching is getting faster, more articulate.  I’m concentrating on studying spaces rather than individual things.  Trying to capture the momentum, the volume, the atmosphere, the alignments, the proportions, the scale.  Most of the field sketches shown here have taken less than 30 minutes.  Waiting for trains, sitting still for a few moments, taking notes during lectures.

The last one, Plaza over the old canal, took about two hours on a congested Saturday morning.  I have been to this spot almost daily since coming to Utrecht and am fascinated by the space.  At night it is lit with a spot light directly into the heart of the plaza while the purple lights from Winkle van Sinkle pull you through to the other side.  In the the mornings, a few commuters pass through on their way to the Hoog Catherijne train station.  The afternoons see so many people lingering for a look across the canal or leisurely passing in adoration of this historic space.  As I drew here, hundreds of people slowly wandered through and stopped for a smoke or to snack or to watch people pass by.  Musicians set up, performed, and then moved on.  People looked over my shoulder.  Once, when I dropped my bag of pencils with a loud noise, a woman sitting on the steps below me said something in Dutch.  I told her I didn’t understand and she quickly switched to English and said “That bag must be heavy!”  I laughed as she told me that in Holland any time someone drops something, its common to comment that it must weigh a lot.  As I continued to sketch, the weather changed from a sunny morning to a cool, dreary afternoon but it didn’t change the usage of the space at all.  A few people were soliciting passers-by for a charity to protect the environment.  One of them sat next to me for a while and asked, once we switched our conversation to English, why I chose this spot.  I mentioned that I was fascinated that in such a flat country there was so much topography in this spot.  The high Dom Tower in the distance, the Old Canal far below.  The pedestrians on one side of the plaza are at least five meters lower than those on the other but barely notice as they climb up above the water below. This plaza is actually a bridge.  The Old Canal passes under this spot and is completely exposed on either side.  As I said this, the man looked around and smiled.  He told me that he grew up a short distance away and that he comes here all the time but had never noticed that he was actually standing on a bridge.

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About matthewtraucht

Graduate school student at the University of Minnesota's College of Design pursuing a Master's of Landscape Architecture, class of 2013.
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