The Ramblings of Joy Laking

Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


 Bikers, helmet-less

Often in pristine dresses, skirts or business suits,

Sit upright and pedal hard and fast.

They are a cycling river.

The bike lanes are narrow

Weaving between the cars and us, the pedestrians,

Twisting around light poles and

Electric car charging stations.


Many of the bikes have large front carts,

Containing one or two children,

Sometimes an adult,

Often a dog.

It is exhilarating to see this river

Of human energy.

Though, I long to ride a bike again

I would never ride in Amsterdam.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

March14, 2023

 Four more paintings worked on. I did another small painting of the tulips. This time they were a little bit opened.    By the time we return from Amsterdam in another week, they will all be open or dead.

The tiny still life was so appealing that I did half sheet, still life of the little plant and the salt shaker, and the large leafed parsley in the lovely shaped green wine bottle.  Finally we could eat the pear, the garlic, and the orange!  And I am planning to bring the wine bottle home for future still lifes.

I’ve almost finished the half sheet, night painting.  For some reason, I decided to try it on hot pressed paper instead of my usual cold pressed paper. I feel like I have been fighting the paper all the way through.  It is like painting on glass and the paint doesn’t stay put.

Yesterday at suppertime,  we had a beautiful sky.  Back to rain today.  This morning I decided to try to capture the gorgeous sky from last evening with the rooflines and tops of the town of Uelzen that we see out our window. 

Tomorrow, we are off by train to Holland to look at the art among other things. My new small pack is too small for a quarter sheet of paper so I will just take along a bunch of tiny watercolour pieces for sketches and tiny paintings. Hopefully we will have Facebook at our hotel  Amsterdam and I will transcribe some of these blog postings into Facebook postings.

Friday, March 10, 2023

March 10, 2023

This morning, I awoke to another snowy day in Uelzen, Germany. Kids are throwing snow balls, people are scrapping sidewalks. It is quite slippery for the folks still riding their bicycles.

  With the snow on the roofs, my night time view from my window, looks much different with snowy roofs and so I continued working for a couple of hours on the large still life, I started yesterday.


When I got tired of working on it, I looked closely at the tulips that I bought yesterday. When they open, (if they open before we head off to Holland next Wednesday) I am hoping to do a large very loose tulips painting.  In the meantime, I did a tiny sketch of the tulips that I bought yesterday. 

I am reading a most fascinating book in my time off, Glenn Gould, Music and Mind, by Geoffrey Payment.  It is a bit of a tough read but I am enjoying reading about the idiosyncrasies of a creative person.  Lots of them I identify with. I pulled this book off Emily’s book shelf in our apartment not knowing that it was a recent gift to Emily from her father, Phil, just prior to his death.  Emily is doing a big music adjudication this June in preparation for studying for a degree in Music Education.  I can see why her Dad gave her this book.  The start of the book upto about page twenty-five is really about the importance of playing with the heart, in addition to playing with the music.   When I was forty, I took fiddle classes every Friday night with an excellent music teacher Peter Dunn. For many of the folks who played by ear in the class, Peter would tell them “Pay attention to the music”.  For me, who easily could read music, Peter would always remind me to play with heart and stop focusing on the music! 

Since we arrived in Uelzen, I have had a relationship with a pigeon, sitting on the top of a roof in my view out the window.  “Aren’t you cold, aren’t you lonely?” I would ask him.

Then yesterday, Jim noticed two smaller pigeons on the roof and I realized that my pigeon friend is not a pigeon at all but the top of a chimney that appears over the ridge-line of the house. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

 March 8, 2023

Lots of people think that watercolours allow no room for changing your mind.  Everything has to be done right the first time.  I used to think that, but gradually after playing around with oils and acrylics, I realize that it is possible to do watercolours without preplanning and to keep the creative challenges all the way through a painting.  Here’s an example, I worked on today:the bakery truck, at the market in uelzen, Germany.  In the first go round, I had a jumble of bread on the shelf in front of the sales person.  I decided that I needed to all a second baguette to sort of solidify the clutter.  I had left some white areas on the lower shelves to  try to get a feeling that they were covered in plastic. 

So I set to work with my tiny fitch scrubber and lots of clean water and scrubbed out another baguette on the upper shelf.  I also scrubbed the hard white splotches on the lower bread. 

Then we went to the market and bought a baguette and I decided on only one lower support because I felt the full one was too much in the centre and might really divide the image.

Here is the finished painting.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

March 7 2023

Yesterday, I woke up at six-thirty this morning and all of the roofs and trees were laden with snow.  I immediately did a little sketch of it out the kitchen window.  It was beautiful but I am certain that Jim didn’t think so when he got up. 

We also found the way to the craft show.  It reminded me of why I don’t like craft shows.  All these poor people just hoping that you will buy something. The only way I enjoyed the Portaupique market and the Great Village market was that I bought something from everyone.  At the craft market that wasn’t possible.  And there was very little that was actually a true arty craft.  There were some wooden stumps with melted glass bowls on them that were great.Of course, it was the huge ones with more than one bowl on them that I liked.  There were some metal ducks that I particularly liked but they were all the same in different sizes and I wondered if they had copied the duck from something since the other animals and ants were pretty basic. They were colourful and if I had been sure the maker was an artist I would have bought one for Danica.  There were three purse makers and all the purses were quite lovely and well-made.  Of course, the one I liked best was made of salmon leather and cost almost four-hundred euros, too much for me.  And then I have the entire issue that since I am a vegetarian do I want to have animal products in my attire.  I do love my red leather shoes and they have held up for years and so I am iffy on this.  I decided I can either find a recycled purse at Louis’s, our second-hand shop and then embellish or dye  it to suit me or I can use my little back pack that has no leather in it and came for free with Susie, my walker. Anyway, there was nothing as wonderful at Danica’s jewelry at the craft market except the stump with two large molten glass bowls and so I didn’t buy anything. 

We were a little low on basics, wine, bread, butter, milk and cheese and so off we walked to the grocery store.  The butter here is fabulous as it is required to have more fat in it.  It is softer and more delicious than our butter.   I did find out that I have to weigh the orange, the apple and the pear that I bought in the vegetable section not at the checkout!  Before we came back home we had wonderful coffee and sweets at the grocery store, bakery, and restaurant.  Everything looked and smelt fantastic and there were lots of people waiting for their turn to get coffee or baked goods.  I wish we had someplace that served such incredible bread back home.

Yesterday, we bit the bullet and found accommodation in Amsterdam in the Museum area for March 15 to 21.  We also booked our trains so hopefully, we will be able to pull this off.  We only have one change of train so we should be able to accomplish the trip.

Today I got up at six and spent an hour or two working on a larger painting of night out the window.  When I got tired of working on that one, I decided to try a tiny sketch of stuff that was on the table in front of me.  Of course, I got hooked and spent the rest of the morning painting this tiny one. This afternoon I finished up the Hunderwasser Train  Station, which I started outside a few days ago and the Flower Sellers.


Saturday, March 4, 2023

March 4, 2023

 March 4, 2023

Yesterday, I decided to go outside painting.  I only lasted an hour.  It was just freezing.  I did get a drawing of Hunderwasser’s train station done.  Every time a train raced by, I just held on to my stuff!  I felt a bit nervous, going off painting by myself which annoyed me but at least I gave it a shot.  I took my “Oma” my light weight walker/ painting chair.  It definitely should have been tried before we came as I can’t easily reach the ground and all supplies have to be held as well as the painting between my knees. 

Today, I started painting it.

Today we walked to the market and I got vegetables, cheese, and more bread. (One of my high school friends suggested I make bread pudding out of all the stale bread, that I have accumulated as I paint it and it was a great idea and used up allot of it).  I also got some fresh rhubarb at the market. Jim had some bratwurst on a bun and was so happy.  It is hard for him to be married to a vegetarian but I keep telling him that if learned to cook, he could make whatever he liked.  

As soon as we got back home, I stewed the rhubarb with some honey and made a vegetable stew for supper.  Then I did a hand wash.  And then after a couple of hours of painting, Jim and I set off to a craft market that is happening today and tomorrow.  Unfortunately we never found the craft market, and I was getting exhausted and eventually we gave up.  We will try to find it tomorrow before, I use up all my energy of other things.

I also finished up the tiny painting I did of the night view out our living room window. I might try a bigger one, which would give me the chance to actually draw the cars. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

March 2, 2023

 March 2, 2023

Recently, Jim and I did a day trip by train into Luneburg.  It was a bit unnerving even though Emily had arranged our tickets and given us directions.  The trains move so fast and I am slower to get to my feet. 

Our initial train was canceled and so we had to wait an hour at the train station.  I sat and did a little sketch of the wonderful Uelzen Train Station with its five coloured columns topped with golden balls.  Image my delight yesterday, when I discovered that the station was designed by one of my favourite artists,  Hunderwasser in 1999.  Hunderwasser died in 2000 and so I am assuming that this was one of his last projects.

Almost fifty years ago, I saw an amazing exhibition by Frederik Hunderwasser at the Saint Mary’s Art Gallery   It was part of a world tour and my German artist friend,  Brigitte Petersmann, had recommended that I see it.  I was hooked and have been a fan ever since.  It was only recently talking to a Parrsboro artist friend, Anna Hergert that I found out that Hunderwasser also started designing buildings in the middle of his career. Within the Uelzen Train Station, there is a small Hunderwasser art exhibition, which Jim and I visited this morning at ten am when the museum opened. Definitely this is one of the highlights of my trip.  I identify with  Hunderwasser’s love of water and of windows and I love his quirky, colourful architectural style that considers art and form before structure when designing new buildings.

I have always wanted to design a building.  After seeing the Hunderwasser exhibition, I asked Jim if I could design his greenhouse instead of purchasing a premade one. I promised Jim a greenhouse for his 80 birthday in January.   He said certainly I could.  Now I need a source of old windows!

We enjoyed seeing Luneburg which has been a town for over 1000 years.  It originally had a wall around it and was an independent wealthy town based on its profitable history of salt production.    I had a tour in the afternoon of the Rathaus, the government building.  Unfortunately, the tour was in German but there was a pamphlet on the building in English. I managed a lot of steps and walking and was totally exhausted afterward. 

I bought more bread this morning for my bread painting. We are now overwhelmed with stale bread. At some point, I need to bite the bullet and discard the stale stuff and get back to eating the incredible bread instead of just painting it and smelling it.